Tring Athletic were knocked out of the FA Vase at the third-round stage in a narrow cup replay defeat on penalties to high-flying Biggleswade on Saturday.
After 240 minutes spread over two games, there was little to choose between the sides but Biggleswade won a penalty shoot-out 5-3 to move into the last 32 after it ended 0-0 following extra time.
It was gutting for Tring but after losing a bit of form lately it was encouraging to see them push the SSML Premier leaders to the limit.
As expected from the two teams who are challenging for the league title, this was a tight, competitive cup affair with few chances and the keepers were generally untroubled.
Afterwards, Athletic boss Ian Richardson said: “I am so proud of my boys and gutted to go out of the FA Vase on penalties.
“Two excellent sides did the [SSML Premier] proud and congratulations to Biggleswade and good luck in the next round.”
Athletic are now hoping they can get back to winning ways and mount a challenge for the league title.
They sit in second place in the table, just two points adrift of Biggleswade, although the table-toppers have two games in hand.
Tring were due to play again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when they travel to Letchwoth Garden City Eagles for a Herts Charity Shield game.
It’s then back to league action this Saturday with a trip to 16th-placed Harpenden Town.
Meanwhile, last Tuesday night Athletic disappointingly bowed out of the St Mary’s Cup following a 2-1 defeat at home to Chipperfield Corinthians.
Athletic made ten changes from the previous Saturday’s game and from the kick-off were on the defensive.
Corinthians had two clear chances in the early stages and then took the lead on 15 minutes in fortuitous circumstances. Tring keeper Luke Priestley’s clearance hit Chipperfield centre forward Conor Flanagan and rebounded into the unguarded goal.
Five minutes into the second-half Corinthians made it 2-0 after a defensive error allowed the persistent Nathan Pooley to collect the ball and round Athletic’s keeper to shoot into an open goal.
The goal gave Tring added impetus and they pushed forward in numbers, winning several corners and free-kicks.
Tring managed to reduce the arrears when a Joe Fitzgerald cross from the right was headed in by Kyle Johnson but they were unable to add another to force a replay.