Ten-man Berko march on in FA Cup

Berko's Dan Jones got The Comrades level against Hoddesdon yesterday (Saturday).
Berko's Dan Jones got The Comrades level against Hoddesdon yesterday (Saturday).

Berkhamsted march on in the FA Cup after an exciting away win in a five-goal thriller on Sunday in the extra preliminary rounds.

After dispatching Crawley Green 3-2, Berko have been drawn at home to Slough Town in the next round for a tie that should draw a bumper crowd to Broadwater on Saturday, September 2.

Slough are two divisions above Berko and Comrades’ manager Steve Bateman is a former player and manager of the Rebels.

The last time they came to Broadwater in the FA Cup was in the 1990s when Slough were in the Conference and they ran out 4-1 winners. Slough then got through to the famous cup competition-proper that season, only losing after a replay with Reading.

Max Farrelly failed a late fitness test for the trip to Crawley Green on Sunday, so Dan Jones was recalled to the Berko starting line-up.

The Comrades played up the hill at Barton Rovers’ ground – hosting its second FA Cup tie of the weekend – and made a fine start.

Alex Campana nearly found Stacey Field at the back post after a whipped cross.

Ashley Morrissey then gave Berko the lead in the 11th minute when he beat several men, cut in from the left of the area, and with people looking for a pass, smashed a shot past Charlie Yates for a fine solo goal.

Berko doubled their lead with another quality goal in the 25th minute. Morrissey set it up, laying the ball back neatly for ex-Green man Sean Coughlan who smacked it from 15 yards into the bottom corner of the net.

Berko should have been further in front before the interval with Morrissey and Jon Munday putting efforts over the bar and Field had a fine shot blocked.

Early in the second-half, Morrissey played in Field with a straight pass but the chance was not taken. Green broke up to the other end and pulled a goal back when Liam Toomey found some space and hit a 20-yard shot just inside the foot of the post.

But Berko were unperturbed and Field headed against the bar from a Morrissey cross. Campana and Jones had shots blocked as Berko played down the hill.

Pat Daly equalised when Munday slipped. However, the hosts were only level for one minute. A clumsy challenge on Field earned a spot kick and Jones fired it past a statuesque Yates for the winning goal.

Berko should have had a second penalty but the match officials missed a hand ball.

Even more drama was to come when Coughlan got his marching orders for kicking the ball away – his second yellow card of the game.

But 10-man Berko held on for the win.

Berko: Tasker, Mead, Weeks, Jones, Munday, Rodrigoe, Campana, Hawes, Field (Campbell), Coughlan, Morrissey. Subs not used: Osborne, Carter, Farrelly, Jowle, Prior and James.

Next up for Berko is a trip to the unbeaten and newly-promoted Harpenden Town this Saturday in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division.

A win would set a new club record of six straight wins in all competitions to start a season. Berko are top of the league after last Tuesday night’s good performance and fine 3-0 win on the road at Holmer Green.

Morrissey,recalled to the line up, gave his full back a torrid time all night, and he was the one to make the breakthrough in the 18th minute when he latched onto a Coughlan cross to rifle in a shot from 10 yards past Holmer keeper Sam Butcher.

It took until nearly the interval for Berko to get the crucial second buffer goal.

Coughlan was again the provider, with Field sweeping the ball home to give Berko the two-goal cushion their play deserved.

In the second-half, a Farrelly effort was cleared off the line while at the other end Berko keeper Carl Tasker saved well from a Dean Munday effort.

Jon Munday got the ball in the net with a powerful header from an Adam Mead free-kick by Adam Mead but the offside flag went up.

Ashton Campbell came off the bench to create the final goal with a cross from the right that Field headed home for his sixth goal of the season to make it 3-0.