Airedale Park has been home to Holmer Green since 1975. It is part of a multi-sport complex that includes cricket and tennis as well as football. All of the facilities, changing area, clubhouse, snack bar and toilets, are situated in the clubhouse block which is separated from the football pitch by the car park. There is a sectioned off walkway for the players and official to get to and from the playing surface. Access for spectators is through a single gate which takes you into the ground next to the corner flag. There are two covered areas around the ground. The Don Want Stand is the main stand, situated on the Watchet Lane side of the ground. It has two rows of wooden seating but is mainly a covered standing area. The second covered area is a concrete base with scaffold poles and a corrugated roof set to the left of the goals at the car park end. This is perched upon a grass bank and, as such, offers a good view of the game. The dugouts are situated opposite the Don Want Stand and are both adorned with the phrase Please Do Not Swear a feature picked up by David Bauckham in his book Dugouts (http://www.pyramidpassion.co.uk/html/dugouts_book.html).
The goal seemed to wake up Holmer Green and they immediately set about looking for an equaliser. They didn't have too long to wait. Just seven minutes after going behind they were level. A ball down the left was pulled back to the edge of the box where it was met by Joe Collins. His stinging drive nestled in the far corner despite Tasker in the Comrades goal getting a touch to it.
Unfortunately for the paying public, the remainder of the half didn't really live up to the lively start. Don't get me wrong, it was a good enough half from both sides, but neither managed a really serious attempt on target for the remaining 30 minutes of the half. It was a pretty even affair and the half-time score line of 1-1 was a good reflection on the game.
A very welcome trip to the clubhouse for a warming cup of tea, on what was turning into a very chilly evening, went down very well and pretty soon the attendance of 44 was ready and waiting for the second half.
We didn't have long to wait for the action to hot up in the second period. Within 3 minutes of the restart the home side had got their noses in front with a superb goal. Their equaliser was a pretty good effort from outside the box but their second eclipsed the first effort. When a corner was cleared to the edge of the box it fell to Greg Deer who hammered an unstoppable effort beyond the desperate dive of Tasker and into the net. This goal was the spark for a much more open and end to end second half. Both sides managed to create some good openings but could not quite convert them. The home keeper made a good reflex save when a cross was inadvertently directed towards goal by a defender. At the other end an alert Comrades defender was at hand to clear a Green effort off the line.
With under 20 minutes remaining it looked as if the home side had finally made the points safe when Powles deftly diverted a cross past Tasker into the net. However, the assistant on the far side immediately flagged for offside. It was a very tight decision but I was directly in line with it and, I have to say, I think the official just about got it right.
Berkhamsted never gave up the game and still had a couple of decent chances in them. Twice they produced deep crosses which couldn't quite be converted at the far post.
All in all it was probably fair result. Although the first half was a very even affair I did feel that the home side edged the second half. Having said that, there won't be many points or places between these sides come May. Holmer Green leapfrog their opponents with the three points and Berko were left to leave the pitch obeying the signs in the dugouts, of course.
Berkhamsted now have to re-group and prepare themselves for the visit of Morpeth Town in the Vase on Saturday. This is the furthest that The Comrades have ever progressed in this competition and I am sure that everyone in the Spartan South Midlands League wishes them well in their endeavours.
Holmer Green - @holmergreenfc
Berkhamsted - @berkofc
Spartan South Midlands League - @spartansmfl