Athletic start league campaign with a defeat

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After an entree of two cup games, Tring Athletic opened their Spartan South Midlands Premier season with a disappointing home defeat to Welwyn Garden City.

Only one goal separated the sides but the visitors were much the better team and should have won by more.

Last season City finished sixth in the standings, one place and two points behind Athletic, but during the off-season have invested heavily in new players and only three remained from the last time these teams met in February when Athletic came away from Herns Lane with a 3-2 victory.

The visitors started confidently with Jon Clements, who was the league’s leading scorer last season with 41 goals for champions London Colney, twice going close in the opening 15 minutes

With the opposition doing most of the pressing and looking threatening, Tring keeper Jack Hopwood and his defenders were working hard to keep a clean sheet which they managed to do until the 38th minute.

The goal stemmed from a long clearance which Clements laid off nicely to fellow striker Brandon Carney and the former AFC Dunstable player ran through to finish calmly to make it 1-0.

Just before the interval Athletic created an opportunity for leading marksman Chris Vardy who forced a super save from the City keeper, but the visitors deservedly went in at half-time with the one-goal lead.

Tring made a number of changes after the break, but missing a few key players, they were unable to find their form.

They went close on a couple of occasions with Dave O’Connor seeing a header cleared off the line and Jack Read forcing a good save from the keeper but their opponents had their chances as well and City should have won more comfortably.

It was a disappointing start for Athletic but with a few players now back in the fold they will hope to quickly get back to winning ways.

They have another tough fixture this Saturday with a home game against Sun Sports, who did the double over Athletic last season.

Tring: Hopwood, Seaton (Shaw), Smith, Riddick, Steadman, O’Connor, Sturges, Joliffe (Read), Vardy, Blunden, Crawford (Twelves).

Subs not used: Thomas and Smith.