BERKHAMSTED put their dismal run of form behind them to pick up a much-needed victory in a bad tempered clash at Broxbourne Borough.
Lawrence Bunker fired home the winning goal for the Comrades from the penalty spot, before three players were shown red cards following a melee late on in the game.
The victory came as a welcome boost for Berko – who had ended 2011 with seven consecutive defeats – and manager Mick Vipond hopes the result is a sign of things to come.
“We are really pleased,” he said. “The new year changes a lot of things and one of those things can be football.”
“Hopefully we can now continue where we left off after a really good win.”
Berkhamsted can be rightly proud of the victory on Monday, having produced a gutsy and determined display.
There were few chances of note in the first half of the game, but things started to liven up after the interval.
Berko were forced into a change as Steve Hawes suffered a recurrence of a back injury, and Josh Chamberlain took to the field in his place.
And the visitors found themselves in front shortly afterwards.
The Broxbourne players were left furious after the referee awarded Berko a penalty for a trip on Tyler Hatherley in the area, and Bunker stepped up to slot the ball home and give his side the lead.
Clearly riled by the goal, Borough went in search of an equaliser – and would have been level had it not been for two remarkable saves in quick succession from Comrades keeper Eddie Farmer.
The hosts continued to press for a leveller, and Comrades duo Jon Davies and Mark Teasdale were shown yellow cards as the game turned fractious.
Jamie Gavin came on for Jon Davies as Vipond looked to freshen things up, and Berko should have doubled their advantage minutes later.
Hatherly produced a fine jinking run and set up Bunker, but the Comrades striker could only fire over the bar.
And then came a moment of madness from both sides.
Josh Chamberlain was caught by a bad tackle and, clearly angered by the challenge, led with his elbow as he went up for a header moments later – resulting in a red card.
The Broxbourne players were furious with Chamberlain, and a fracas ensued, resulting in further red cards – for Berko’s Louis Rose and Broxbourne keeper Ed Thompson.
It was a disappointing end to the game, but Berko held on well and secured the much-needed three points.
And Berko boss Vipond is hopeful that his side can build on the victory.
“We are only halfway through the season and there’s no reason why we can’t climb a few places,” he said. “A top six finish would be great.”