Tring Athletic slip to a narrow defeat in season’s curtain-raiser

The latest local football news.
The latest local football news.

Matthew Key

The game took place at a sunny Grass Roots Stadium with both teams looking to get off to winning starts, writes Matthew Key.

It was even in the early stages, with the first real chance of the game going to Tring, who last season went so close to winning the league title and promotion. A great ball from Ben Johnson was met by the head of captain Max Mitchell, whose header was tipped over the bar by Colney keeper Charlie May.

Two minutes’ later it was the same combination of Johnson to Mitchell, this time with an even better save coming from the Heath stopper.

Colney’s first opportunity came in the 20th minute after a questionable hand ball decision from the referee gave the visitors a free-kick just outside the area. Although on target, the shot was comfortably saved by Lewis Todd in the Tring goal.

The deadlock was broken by the visitors in the 24th minute. A long ball over the top of the Tring defence fell to ex-Tring striker John Clemence, whose first shot was well-saved by Todd. Unfortunately, the rebound fell straight back to Clemence, who finished into an open net.

It was a difficult goal for Tring to concede, made even worse by the fact it was scored by a former player.

Colney thought they had made it 2-0 after a deep corner was headed in, but the goal was ruled out by the referee for an infringement on Todd.

The visitors held the narrow 1-0 edge into half-time break, with Tring knowing they hadn’t been at their best.

Tring started the second period quickly as they looked to find an equaliser. Mulik Rickman volleyed a cross that beat the Colney keeper, but not the bar.

Phil Lowen then hit a fierce shot that was spilled by May, but he recovered quickly to grab the rebound.

The key moment of the game arrived in the 53rd minute. After some good work from Mitchell, he found a cross that fell to Oran Swales, however the Tring striker could not direct the ball goalwards.

From that Tring attack, the profligacy was punished when a long ball from Colney was played back to Chris Griffin, whose first-time strike from 25 yards found the bottom left-hand corner.

Again, it was a tough pill to swallow for Tring, who had started the second-half so brightly and looked the more likely to score.

Despite conceding the second, Athletic continued to play on the front-foot and they were only denied a goal by good defending and goalkeeping.

A Mitchell free-kick was headed goalwards by Jacob Carter, only to be tipped over the bar by May again.

However, Athletic were given a lifeline in the 70th minute when a short corner was played to Swales, who was then bought down in the box. Mitchell dispatched the penalty, hitting the ball hard into the right-hand side of the goal to make the last 15 minutes interesting.

Tring substitutes Dan Ferringo and Ollie Butler had shots blocked and a final chance arrived when Lowen had a strike following a short free-kick, only for the effort to be blocked, while Mitchell’s follow-up hit was also saved.

Clemence was shown a yellow card for a late challenge and that was the last action of this tight clash.

Tring will feel aggrieved as they certainly did enough to earn at least a share of the spoils.

Next up for Athletic is a trip to Hellenic League Premier side Burnham this Saturday for an FA Cup extra-preliminary round tie.

Tring’s line-up: Lewis Todd, Ben Johnson, Chris Vardy (Daniel Ferringo), Phillip Lowen, Tommy Fletcher, Jacob Carter (Ollie Butler), Mulik Rickman, Alex Ward (Luke Dunstan), Oran Swales, Matthew Mitchell (captain), Brett O’Connor. Subs not used: Frankie Hercules, Connor Blake.

Attendance: 116.