Berkhamsted 0-3 Dunstable Town
Berkhamsted were left stunned as a Lee Roach hat-trick inside the first 30 minutes consigned them to defeat against Dunstable Town.
Speed merchant Roach terrorised the Berko defence in the opening stages, and by the time they had warmed to their task, the game was already out of reach.
Berko boss Mick Vipond said: “I’ve been at this level of football for a number of years and that is the best individual performance I’ve seen from a player. He had a great attitude.
“If you took him out of the game or he was in our side, we could have won it. There was not a lot of difference between the two teams.
“We played some good stuff, which was encouraging. There was a good tempo to our play and some good passing.
“I did not feel how I normally would after losing 3-0 at home, that’s for sure.”
It was always going to be a difficult task for the Comrades to contain high-flying Dunstable, and their job was made even harder after Roach bagged his first goal in the fifth minute.
A slip at the back allowed Roach to nip in and fire home to put the visitors in front.
Dunstable came close to adding a second when Nathan Frater’s header rattled the crossbar, but it did not take the visitors long to double their lead.
Again Roach was too good for the Berko defence and slotted home with aplomb.
The Comrades didn’t let their heads drop, though, and produced a couple of good chances of their own as Lawrence Bunker and Matt Wardle both fired over.
Bunker then had a goal chalked off for offside, before Roach completed his hat-trick in scintillating style.
The striker picked up the ball before embarking on a jinking run through the field and firing home.
Berkhamsted got to grips with Roach in the second half, and Mick Vipond’s introduction of Aaron Usmani and Ivailo Dimitrov gave the Comrades a better foothold in the game.
Usmani and Kerkstun Macpherson looked lively up front, but the final delivery was lacking for Berko and Dunstable held on comfortably for the win.
“We got to grips with him (Roach) much better in the second half and created some good opportunities ourselves,” said Vipond.
“We are changing things around slowly and there’s a lot of encouraging signs.
“We set the bar quite high over the last couple of seasons. If you told us two years ago that we would get back-to-back promotions and be in ninth place in the league, we would’ve thought that was asking too much.”
Next up for Berko is a trip to Haringey Borough.