Blunden’s hat-trick wasted as Athletic let a 3-0 lead slip

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Tring Athletic took it to the league leaders Biggleswade FC on Saturday and were 3-0 up after just 34 minutes but some poor defensive play allowed the table-toppers to fight back with three goals of their own and Tring had to settle for a point.

The early lead came courtesy of a hat-trick from Chris Blunden who has had an extraordinary week, having grabbed a hat-trick the previous Saturday and also a goal in midweek.

Tring should have then seen the game out with some comfort but sloppy defensive work put paid to their chances.

Despite the disappointment of dropping two points that should have been in the bag, Athletic are slowly getting their confidence back after a poor start.

They have now had 
two wins and a draw in 
the past seven days and they were playing a decent side 
that are top of the table.

Tring’s first goal came in the 16th minute after Athletic were awarded a free-kick on the left-hand edge of the box and Blunden smashed it past the keeper.

Eleven minutes later Blunden was on the scoresheet again with a super finish. Elliott Goward and Chris Vardy combined well to find Blunden in the box and the Athletic centre forward worked hard to find some space, turned and fired it into the bottom corner with an accurate shot.

The home supporters were in dream land seven minutes later when Blunden completed his hat-trick. After Tring were awarded another free-kick just outside the box, Blunden did it again, firing the ball past the past the despairing dive of the keeper into the far corner for his seventh goal in seven days.

The visitors looked shell-shocked and the game should have effectively been over but three minutes into added time at the end of the first half, Athletic conceded a sloppy goal from a corner and Biggleswade were given a glimmer of hope.

Midway through the second period Tring switched off and allowed Lee Northfield too much space and he reduced the deficit to one goal.

Justin Leavers then levelled things on 79 minutes.

Athletic’s point saw them move up to 17th place in the SSML Premier Division table.

Tring were due to be in action again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press, at home against Biggleswade United.

This Premier Division Cup tie will be the third time Athletic have taken on these same opponents so far this season (a win for Tring in the League Challenge Trophy and a loss in the league).

On Saturday they then visit 11th-placed Hadley for a league game.

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