Although this match was a cup game the two sides are also league mates in the Spartan South Midland Division Two. In fact, there's only two points between them as they sit in 16th and 17th spot respectively, although Raiders have played four games fewer than this evening's visitors.
However, despite their lowly league position, it was the Luton side who started much the stronger of the teams, clearly out to avenge the 3-0 home league defeat from earlier in the season. as early as the fifth minute they unlocked the home defence with a delightful ball between the home centre-back and left-back, allowing the pace of Ethan Scott to do the rest. He got in behind the full-back but was, on this occasion, thwarted by the speed off the line of home keeper Ryan Parker, who did well to narrow the angle and make the block.
Berkhamsted began to awaken from their sluggish start but when they took the lead on 15 minutes it was still somewhat against the general run of play. The goal came after Luton lost the ball in midfield and were caught out by a swift counter. The ball was immediately fed to Tom Flanagan on the right flank who cut back inside his marker onto his favoured left foot before curling the ball around Dhesi into the far corner. 1-0
The goal envigoured the home side who, like their opponents, had discovered that the flanks, particularly the right, seemed to be the way to make progress. Unsurprisingly, when the equaliser arrived on 26 minutes, it was that very route that caused the damage for Raiders, the ball inside the left-back again. This time Ethan Scott's pace got him to the ball way ahead of Parker, who once again had come off his line, only to find himself in no-man's land as Scott slid the ball past him into the net. 1-1. Once again, it was the visitor's turn to look the more dangerous. Lone striker Wayne Polson came close on the half-hour, turning sharply on the edge of the box before firing just over.
There were no further major opportunities in the first half until the final minute when a short corner routine saw goal scorer Flanagan get to the visitor's by-line before firing a cross-shot across the face of goal. Unfortunately for the hosts, no-one could get on the end of it and the ball was smuggled clear by the defence.
HT Berkhamsted Raiders 1 The 61FC 1. All-square at the break was, in my opinion, a fair reflection on the overall game. The visitors started strongly but fell behind. They deserved their equaliser but neither side really did enough to earn a lead.
Raiders responded to this period pressure with a counter attack down the right which saw Flanagan cross low across the six-yard box. Dhesi was stretching to get something on the cross and succeeded only in pushing it out into the danger area but, luckily for the keeper, there were no home strikers on hand to finish it off.
The game then settled down somewhat after that burst of activity. No lack of effort from either side though, plenty of huffing and puffing but no clear cut chances.
With the clock ticking down Berkhamsted had one last opportunity when Napier flashed a shot across the face of the home goal but that was it, the referee blew for the end of the game and we were heading straight into a penalty shootout.
FT Berkhamsted Raiders 1 The 61FC 1. Over the 90 minutes a draw was probably the fairest result. Both sides had their chances but neither dominated enough to say they should have won the game inside 90 minutes.
Rob Alcock (Raiders) scores. 1-0
Liam Tyler (The 61) scores. 1-1
Tom Shaw (Raiders) sees his effort saved by Dhesi. 1-1
Joe O'Dell (The 61) hits the post. Still 1-1 after two each.
Evan Napier (Raiders) scores. 2-1
Ollie Manning (The 61) scores. Now 2-2 after three each.
Tom Craddock (Raiders) scores. Dhesi got a hand to it but couldn't keep it out. 3-2
George Heaps (The 61) scores. 3-3 after four each.
Tom Flanagan (Raiders) score. Again Dhesi almost kept it out. 4-3
Jason Freeman (The 61) sees his spot-kick saved well by Ryan Parker.
Berkhamsted Raiders win 4-3 on penalties and will face Aylesbury Vale Dynamos in the next round.
Berkhamsted Raiders: Ryan Parker, Joe Chott, Kaison Warren, Luca Ozcan, Jack Petrovic, Ed Bryant(c), Tom Flanagan, Tom Shaw, Lucas Bennett, Harry Loakes, Evan Napier. Subs: Adam Jewell, Rob Alcock, Jude McKay, Tom Craddock, Ollie Burchnall
The 61FC: Gurjosh Dhesi, 3.Jason Freeman, Adam Carter, 5.Liam Tyler, Jerome Isles, 2.Joe O'Dell(c), 10.George Heaps, 8.Ollie Manning, Curtis Finch, 11.Ethan Scott, 9.Wayne Polson
If you want to catch either of these teams in action this weekend, both have league games. Berkhamsted Raiders welcome mid-table Sarratt to Broadwater. The reverse fixture, in August, finished 2-1 to the home side. Sarratt's goals coming from Zach Booth and Jayden Chambelain. Harry Loakes scored for Raiders.
The 61FC are on the road again as they head North to take on ninth-placed New Bradwell St Peter. They met on the opening day at Kingsway Recreation Ground. The Petes took home the three points with a 3-0 victory thanks to Ted Brown, Ben Wilson and Luke Burrows.
It's been almost ten years since I first visited Broadwater or, as it is now known The Glencar Community Stadium. The ground is just a short walk from the town centre and is just one sports facility in an area wedged between the main railway line and the canal. Aside fro the football ground there is also the tennis & squash club, bowls club and a skatepark. Parking at the football ground is very limited, but there is a good-sized car park just a few hundred yards further down Broadwater.
From memory it doesn't appear that the ground has changed much since I last visited which is not surprising considering how tightly hemmed in it is. There's not a lot of room for extra stands or building within the ground. This is particularly clearly demonstrated on the station side of the ground where spectator walkway is very narrow and backed by a brick wall which marks the boundary to a residential area. There are covered, terraced standing areas behind both goals. The Digger Phillips Stand at the railway end and The Sammy Dormer Stand at the Broadwater end. On the car park side of the ground there is covered seating running along about a third of the length of the pitch. The dugouts are built into the wall that separates this stand from the playing surface. The clubhouse is situated outside of the ground, alongside the car park. However, there is also a toilet block in the ground at the canal end.
When I first visited I described the stadium as quirky with some old-style atmosphere. I stick by this. It's certainly not your bog-standard non-league ground, which is a good thing. In my opinion, well worth a visit.
Ground Number: Re-Visit