Report courtesy of Peter Dudley
So for the sixth time in seven rounds of the Vase I was at Broadwater for the Last 16 tie between Berkhamsted and Morpeth Town.
The tie had been delayed a week due to Morpeth’s tie with North Shields in the previous round having only completed on Monday and the Northumberland side had defeated the current holders so came into this one in form. And with only three league defeats all season in what is a tough league Berkhamsted knew they would face a very stiff challenge.
It was the visitors who had the first chance on five minutes when skipper Keith Graydon fired an effort just wide from outside the box whilst the first moment of danger in the Morpeth box came on eleven minutes when a hosts free kick was just too high for Jim Baldry.
Moments later Lewis Rodridge found space in the visiting area and forced keeper Karl Dryden into making a save. However from the resulting corner the hosts took the lead when Tom Carter saw his downward header find the net and the Comrades had their noses in front. Berko were enjoying a good spell and on the quarter hour mark forced Dryden into another decent stop as the hosts threatened another goal.
The visitors though started to see more of the ball thereafter without really creating an opening as the hosts were holding them at arms length. Ten minutes before the break after a spell of pressure from the visitors the hosts denied them with a good block before there next effort was deflected over.Chris Swailes headed the resulting corner over the bar.
Then came a heavy challenge on Berko full back Dan Edwards from Sean Taylor. It was probably the first real menacing challenge in the game so far but it resulted in a booking for the visiting midfielder. The hosts then broke down the left through Josh Chamberlain and the ball found its way to Alex Campana who saw his effort blocked. Morpeth full back James Novak then fired over the bar from distance, but the visitors still hadn’t tested Carl Tasker in the hosts goal as yet.
Then in first half stoppage time came a controversial decision from the referee when he awarded a penalty to the visitors after Graydon’s free kick struck Chamberlain on the arm/body in the wall. It looked very harsh indeed but Luke Carr stepped up to convert the spot kick and the visitors had scored right on half time. The Berko boys were furious and felt hard done by as they left the field for half time. It did leave the tie perfectly poised though.
Half Time Berkhamsted 1 Morpeth Town 1
The goal obviously gave Morpeth a huge lift and they came out with much more purpose second half and they also had the wind at their backs too and four minutes into the half they had good chancewhen Baldry missed a header and allowed Michael Chilton in to beat Tasker to the ball but saw his effort blocked. Morpeth though were really piling on the pressure as the half went on as they looked to turn this tie around.
On 64 minutes they did finally take the lead when a corner into the six yard box fell to Chilton who poked home from a yard out and saw the Northern League side hit the front for the first time. Berko could barely get out of their own half and almost saw the wind help the visitors out with just under twenty minutes left when a Graydon free kick from the right touchline caught the wind and almost found its way into the far corner.
As the game entered its final ten minutes the hosts did start to get a foothold in the game again although saw an 83rd minute free kick from Novak curl just over the Berko bar. The hosts task was made tougher though with four minutes left when full back Edwards received a second yellow after a poor challenge on Graydon but it didn’t deter them as they began to put the Morpeth backline under pressure.
With a minute of normal time left the hosts saw a corner headed just wide by Baldry at the back post when totally unmarked and into stoppage time Franck Jowle tried one from long range but struck it straight at Dryden. The hosts went closer still deeper into stoppage time when Dryden failed to hold onto a cross but Bradley O’Donovan could only pokes over from close range.
Five minutes into stoppage saw the hosts win a corner which saw literally every single Berko player, including keeper Tasker, up for it inside the box. Unbelievably the Morpeth keeper Dryden pushed the cross against his own bar and saw the ball drop dangerously into the six yard box before it was scrambled clear by the visiting defence which was followed by the final whistle.
So Berko were a whisker away from forcing extra time but it wasn’t to be for the Hertfordshire side. Morpeth looked solid and strong and did have much the better of the second half although were pushed all the way today. So it is Morpeth Town who host Bristol Manor Farm in the the Last Eight of the FA Vase.
Full Time Berkhamsted 1 Morpeth Town 2
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