A positive start (and a bit of history making)
After the Tuesday night pre-season footballing lesson dished out by Witham Town it was natural for the Blues’ fans to feel uneasy heading into their first competitive game of the season against a familiar foe, Tring Athletic, a team that had routinely beaten Hertford only a few seasons ago.
Following the Witham disaster manager Paul Halsey opted for a more settled side to face Athletic and it showed from the start of the match, with the Blues’ first goal coming within 2 minutes. Good link-up play from Lewis Donovan & Leigh Rose found Charlie E. Smith on the edge of the box, a quick drag back and shot beat Matt Evans in the visitors goal. (Charlie E. Smith has been with us since the start of last season – Charlie K. Smith is our new signing this season from Hadley, we’re still working on nicknames for them!)
It was not the start Tring wanted and the early goal had our Hertford buzzing as they took every opportunity to test the keeper who had been called into action within the opening seconds when the dangerous Jordan Watson had got free down the left and forced him into tipping his shot past the far post.
After 14 minutes Athletic nearly pulled one back. Sonny Bailey-Aird linked up with Stewart King and when the former’s cross came in Chris Vardy will probably feel he should have scored instead his effort went the wrong side of the post. That piece of play boosted Tring’s confidence and a few minutes later Ryan Sturges appeared to have sent Chris Vardy through on goal until Blues’ defender Danny Wolf managed to stretch a get a big toe to the ball.
Just as Tring were starting to get back into the game they were rocked by another quality goal from Hertford when Lewis Donovan curled home a superb free kick from just outside the box, after Kardan Campbell had been chopped down.
Around the half hour mark Tring forward Stewart King robbed a defender but chose to shoot from a difficult angle when a better option may have been to take the ball into the area. This incident showed Hertford were far from impregnable at the back and some work is still needed on the training pitch.
Just before half time the visitors were awarded a penalty. It came from a nice move involving Ryan Sturges and Chris Vardy and when the ball reached Stewart King in the box he was caught by a defender for a clear penalty. With regular penalty taker Graham Hall having retired Chris Vardy took over the responsibility and smashed the ball past the keeper to give Athletic a timely boost.
The goal would have changed the nature of the half time team talk for both sides and after being second best for most of the opening 45 minutes Tring were right back in the game.
Half Time: Hertford Town 2 – 1 Tring Athletic
Hertford started brightly in the second half, Matt Evans had to be on top form producing a great save from a rasping shot from Charlie Smith then did well to recover quickly to prevent Jordan Watson from snapping up the loose ball. But a minute later Evans could only stand and watch as Watson fired a magnificent shot from nearly 40 yards that smacked against the bar. This woke the Stable End up from it’s slumber with chants of “Dod-gy keep-er”.
The game was more evenly contested now and Hertford were not exerting the sort of control they did in the first period. Tring came mightily close to an equaliser in the 51st minute when good battling by Stewart King enabled Sonny Bailey-Aird to collect the ball and whip a cross over to the far post to pick out Chris Vardy but his shot went the wrong side of the post.
Having fought their way back into the game after conceding 2 cracking goals from Hertford, Tring then let them grab a 3rd in the 56th minute which owed more to self infliction than total football. Full credit to Leigh Rose, who had a superb game, for sniffing out the opportunity then keeping a cool head to slot the ball home but Athletic will be kicking themselves having ample opportunity to clear their lines.
Hertford were looking confident and strong but they should have wrapped the game up in 73rd minute when Watson and Rose combined in the area with a million shots at goal but could find the back of the net.
Three substitutions were made during the course of the game, Recce Hewitt came on for Lewis Donovan, Tegana James for Jordan Watson and a history maker in the shape of Mattie Crook, the youngest player to play a competitive game for the Blues aged 16 years and 51 days old.
With 7 minutes of normal time left Tring again pierced the home defence when a combination of Ryan Sturges, Chris Salmon and Chris Vardy played Stewart King through and he calmly slotted the ball past the keeper to bring them right back in the tie.
Tring pressed for an equaliser and made life a bit more uncomfortable for Hertford. The last few seconds saw the Blues running down the clock, keeping the ball by the corner flag before the referee finally blew his whistle.
Full Time: Hertford Town 3 – 2 Tring Athletic
Match report by Tring Athletic
Photos © 2014 Dan Sinclair
|Charlie K Smith|
|Tegana James (TJ)||Sub|