20th December. AFC Dunstable 1 Berkhamsted 0
In a match that AFC were pretty comfortable for 80% of it, their goal lived a charmed life in the final 10 minutes, where the visitors will feel they deserved an equaliser, as they just could not force the ball over the line.
After getting their first ever win at Broadwater back in October, AFC knew that Berkhamsted did not play to their full potential, so they needed to be switched on from the opening blast of the referee's whistle. After the disappointment of exiting the FA Vase, AFC had put in plenty of work on the training pitch, after having last Saturdays game called off.
There was one change from the Vase game as Wayne Mills was unavailable, so James Bishop slotted into right back. AFC boss Steve Heath is still missing injured Jimmy Hartley, Leon Simpson and George Biggadike. Only 2 ex AFC players started for Berkhamsted in the shape of BJ Christie and Courtney Massey. Of course Steve Hawes had a season at AFC but returned to Berko last season. Skipper James Baldry was suspended and there was no sign of Dale Turney and Kyle Lincoln. Danny Ryan is still a long term injury for them but was at the game as a spectator. Not to be forgotten was AFC's most successful manager Alex Butler, who was in the away dug out.
AFC started the game very confidently and kept the ball well as they probed looking for an opening. The dangerous pairing of Josh Chamberlain and Christie were being kept in check by the AFC defence. Jonathan Cooper was having plenty of the ball, as he looked for the killer ball, as the visitors on many occasions had 3 players on him. The first real chance of the game came on 18 minutes. A right footed strike from Jamie Warne saw Carl Tasker turn around the post. From the resulting corner Leon Cashman's header smashed against the cross bar and from the ensuing goalmouth scramble, firstly Jermaine Hall then Chris Francis could not force the ball home.
AFC continued to force the play and when a Newman Carney free kick picked out Fabio Bufano, he could not get his header on target. With the powerful striking duo Berkhamsted have, the AFC defence had to be alert and when Christie robbed Bishop on the half way line, he set up Chamberlain but somehow missed the target from 4 yards out.
Half time: AFC Dunstable 0 Berkhamsted 0
The 2nd period of the game was much more closer, as both sides started to cancel each other out. It was looking like the game was going to be goalless and only something special might separate the teams. This happened on 74 minutes. Once again a sublime Carney free kick picked out Cashman and his towering header this time found the target to jubilant scenes on the pitch. Could AFC hold on was the question. Finally the visitors moved Christie from the left wing to spearhead their attack and it was no surprise chances started to be created. They struck the bar with a Ed Canham header and 3 attempts to find the net from the rebound were unsuccessful.
Then a break from Warne could have eased the AFC nerves as his shot crashed against the post. With only 2 minutes left on the clock, a Chamberlain shot hit the AFC upright and it seemed to roll along the line to safety and it was not going to be Berkhamsted's day.
A relieved AFC boss said " It was a really good result for us today. The lads worked really hard for the 3 points which is a credit to Berkhamsted. We had good spells in the game but so did they. Sometimes in football it comes down to very fine lines and today it went in our favour" he continued " with leaders Kings Langley surprisingly losing to Tring Athletic, is gives the chasing pack hope that they can be caught"
AFC Team: Perks. Bishop. Carney. Bufano. Cashman. Warne. Cooper. Hansard. Hall. Olaleye. Francis (Silvestri 79). Subs not used. Griffiths. Harvey. Langston. Porcelli.
Goalscorer: Cashman (74)