There was penalty shoot-out heartbreak for Berkhamsted as they were beaten by Ampthill Town in the Dudley Latham Memorial Premier Division Cup final.
An exciting game had finished 2-2 after extra-time, but it was Ampthill who held their nerve to win the shoot-out 5-4 and lift the cup.
Berko were at full strength for the clash at Tring Athletic’s Grass Roots Stadium, apart from the suspended Jordon Frederick.
The Comrades were first to think that they had scored when Ampthill keeper Martin Conway appeared to pull a ball back into play from over the goal line in the early stages.
However, it was Ampthill who took the lead in the 12th minute when a weak header landed at the feet of the unmarked Tyrone Taylor, who lashed the ball into the net.
Conway kept out a header and a shot from Josh Chamberlain after good work by Connor Calcutt on the left wing, before Chris Crook got a yellow card for a bad foul on Chamberlain.
Ampthill looked the more dangerous side in the first half playing down the hill, however the second half was dominated by Berko.
Mick Vipond’s side had their tails up after Chamberlain equalised with a fine shot when Jamie Gavin flicked a Calcutt ball into his path on the left in the 56th minute.
Chamberlain again got the ball in the net but it was disallowed for offside in the build-up that again featured Calcutt.
Chamberlain then set up Calcutt in a reversal of roles after some fine trickery on the left, but the shot went over.
James Towell came on for Frankie Jowle and his running with the ball added to the pressure on Ampthill.
Calcutt beat two men from a Dan Griggs cross but Berko could not get in front, and Ed Canham came forward but was booked for a needless challenge on the keeper.
Ampthill brought on substitute Warren Garcia and his 25-yard drive flew just beyond the post, while Alvin Rajaram was booked for another bad foul on Chamberlain and Steve Hawes also picked up a yellow card.
The teams were soon reduced to 10-a-side when Michael Lyon kicked out at the grounded Hawes, who got up in a threatening manner, so both went to the stand for violent conduct just before the game headed for extra-time.
Another long range effort from Garcia went over the bar as Ampthill got their second wind, before a disastrous collision between two Berko defenders allowed the ball to fall to Phil Draycott who again put Ampthill in front.
However, it was not long before Calcutt converted a Towell cross to equalise and put the game back in the balance.
There was controversy when Conway stayed on the pitch after stamping on a Berko player, so the keeper was able to play his part on the penalty shoot-out – even scoring from their first kick.
Griggs, Jamie Gavin, Towell and Calcutt all converted their penalties for Berko but Conway pulled off two fine saves to keep out efforts from Ashley Morrisey and Adiel Mannion.
Carl Tasker saved Draycott’s spot kick, but all the others went in and Ampthill landed the cup 5-4 on penalties.
On Saturday Berko play their 63rd and last game of the season at home to AFC Dunstable in the SSML Premier Division, 3pm k/o.
The penalty blues also struck Berko’s youth team 24 hours earlier when Colney Heath got through to the final of the Brian Hitchings Cup.
Jay Caines was brought down for a penalty which Jacob Noonan converted to give Berko the lead.
However, when an injury temporarily took Berko down to 10 men, Colney Heath equalised from a corner.
All the penalties were on target, but the visitors’ keeper Matthew Fallon saved two, to allow Heath to proceed to the final with a 4-2 win.