Tring Athletic bounced back from their defeat at Hertford Town in emphatic style with a convincing win over near neighbours Berkhamsted in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd of 205.
The visitors started strongly, winning three corners in the first three minutes, and they went very close to opening the scoring when captain Jim Baldry saw his header cleared off the line by Chris Mason.
But it was Athletic who broke the ice in the 15th minute from a well-worked free-kick that released Taylor Collins into the area, and he took full advantage to crack a shot past keeper Carl Tasker into the far corner.
It was a typical local derby with some good attacking play interspersed with some fierce tackles and fractious moments, and it was no surprise that the referee had wave his yellow card on occasions to calm things down.
With four minutes to go to half-time, Tring doubled their lead with a nice move involving Chris Mason, Ben Seaton and Lee Stobbs – with the latter’s lovely cross smartly headed home by Collins.
Berkhamsted ended the half on the offensive in an attempt to get a goal back before the break, and they came very close to achieving that aim when Matt Evans brilliantly tipped a shot from Tom Carter over the bar to preserve his side’s two-goal advantage.
Early in the second half, Kieran Turner tried to bend a shot into the far corner and George Carbery shot wide for Berko. Carter then had a great chance to reduce the deficit when a cross picked him out in the area, but his shot lacked the power to beat Evans.
Just past the hour mark, Athletic should have put the game to bed when Collins and Stobbs combined to give Turner the easiest of chances, but from just a few yards out he somehow scooped the ball over the bar.
However, Turner was later to make amends. In the 81st minute he cut inside from the left and laid the ball nicely into the path of Sam Joliffe who, from 30 yards, cracked a shot that fizzed into the net off the underside of the bar.
Turner then decided to get in on the act himself three minutes into time added on, showing too much pace and trickery for the visitors’ defence before slotting the ball past the keeper to round off a very good day for Tring.
Afterwards, a delighted Athletic manager Ian Richardson said: “This was a great reaction to last week’s disappointment. All the goals we scored today were superb, and we wont see a better goal than Sam Joliffe’s all season.”
This win ensured Athletic ended 2015 on a high note with just one defeat from nine games.
They have scored 10 goals in their last two home games and kept four clean sheets from their last six games, all against top sides.
They will hope to continue their good form in the New Year where they face another stiff test, with Hadley the visitors to The Grass Roots Stadium on Saturday.
Berko, meanwhile, will be hoping to bounce back in positive fashion in their trip to Holmer Green.