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Berkhamsted 0-3 Great Wakering Rovers

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Johnson boost for Impressive Rovers

Brian Jeeves reporting on real football at Broadwater.

Great Wakering Rovers produced an excellent display at the picturesque Broadwater Ground, sweeping aside Spartan South Midlands League Berkhamsted. The opening exchanges were frantic but fairly even. In fact, the hectic start was completely out of contrast with the pace of life on the canal boats sailing behind one of the goals, but more in line with the noisy trains hurtling between Euston and Glasgow, behind the other. Josh Chamberlain’s low cross had Rovers goalkeeper Adam Seal fully extended while Billy Johnson went close after charging down Carl Tasker hurried clearance.

Rovers seemed to settle the quicker. Jake Broome was quick to intervene as Dan Trenkel lurked, then Dave Collins’ deep free kick was headed clear in the nick of time by Jamie Gavin.

Despite creating the better early chances, Rovers had to thank Seal for keeping their goal intact when racing out to block from the impressive Connor Calcutt. Nevertheless, it was the visitors who continued to press, and indeed believe they had taken the lead when Johnson’s lobbed effort found the rigging, only for a hawkeyed assistant to flag for what could only be described in proper football terms as a “Premiership foul.”

This was turning into a decent contest, with the teams continuing to spar with each other. Seal did well to punch clear Tom Hardy’s teasing centre, then Collins picked out Johnson only for the Rovers front man to fire wide of an upright. The old gentleman sitting just along from me risked a coronary while over enthusiastically enquiring to the beleaguered assistant as to whether  the Rovers man was off-side, nonetheless displaying that supporters at this level are just as passionate as those who fill the stands at the likes of Old Trafford and  Stamford Bridge.

Calcutt was causing the visitors rearguard all sorts of problems. Firstly, the big striker saw a shot deflected wide, and then the Rovers defence were at action stations as his header flashed across the target.

Having spent so much of last season on the treatment table, Billy Johnson was enjoying his opportunity to be back in the first team. As the interval approached, he was desperately unlucky to see an effort beat Tasker but hit both bar and post. However, he was not to be denied. Two minutes before the break he had the onion bag bulging after lifting the ball over Tasker.

After the half time cuppa, Rovers struggled to settle, the early minutes were somewhat scruffy, then they gifted Berkhampsted with a chance to restore parity. Seal raced clear of goal in an attempt to thwart Frankie Jowle, but only succeeded in flooring the Comrades man. Despite claims the foul was outside the area, whistler Phillip Evans pointed to the spot on the advice of an assistant. The flagsman in question was a dead ringer for David Cameron, drawing the response “We’ll have one next Mr Priminister” from one of the Great Wakering charges. Anyhow, the visitors need not have worried. Calcutt struck the penalty low to the custodian’s right only to see the former Southend Manor man pull off an incredible save.

Great Wakering took full advantage of this let-off. Billy Johnson rounded Tasker to double his and Rovers total after superb work from Trenkel and Jay Smith. Minutes later, Johnson was desperately unlucky not to complete his hat trick after beating Tasker, only to see the effort canon back off a post.

Dan Trenkel proved to be an excellent foil to the endeavour of Johnson; the Rovers player-boss was rewarded for his tireless efforts by adding the visitors third with just over twenty minutes to play. Trenkel sent a low shot into the net via a post, but he’ll be quick to acknowledge the contribution from Jay Smith, who found him with an exquisite reverse pass.

Seemingly out of the game, Berkhampsted rallied. Glenn Thompson headed just over, while Ashley Morrissey sent a crisp snap shot into the midriff of stand-in keeper Louis Godwin-Green. Then the same pair continued their duel with the Rovers goalie producing a wonderful save low to his right, much to the disbelief of the young striker and the home crowd.

The final chance of the afternoon fell to Johnson, but the Rovers man was to miss a claim of the match ball after seeing his strike from just outside the box sail wide.

Despite the defeat, Berkhampsted did enough to suggest they’ll have a decent campaign, while Rovers goalkeeper Adam Seal spoke of his delight at saving the penalty, but was quick to praise the rest of his teammates. “This was a decent performance” he added, “Everyone stuck to their tasks, we’re moving in the right direction”. Indeed, perhaps an entry in the doomsday book will soon not be the main village claim to fame, in this form, come May, they’ll be etched into the Essex Senior League’s honours list as well.

Berkhamsted: Tasker, Gavin, Frederick, Jowle, Griggs, Calcutt, Chamberlain, Hardy, Hawes, Canham, Broome.

Berkhamsted substitutes: Thompson, Towell, Morrissey, Mead.

Great Wakering Rovers: Seal, Reed, Pugsley, Benjamin, Hepburn, Skelton, Levitt, Smith, Trenkel, Johnson, Collins.

Great Wakering Rovers substitutes: Godwin-Green, Ajayi, Williams, Fletcher.

Estimated attendance: 50