Derby day delight for Athletic in the FA Cup

Chris Vardy, centre, hit a hat-trick for Tring
Chris Vardy, centre, hit a hat-trick for Tring

Tring Athletic kept their FA Cup dreams alive as they beat neighbours Leverstock Green 2-1 in an Extra Preliminary Round Dacorum derby.

The Green side made the better start to the game, but it was Tring who opened the scoring in the 11th minute. Former Green player Lee Stobbs played a great ball from his own half to find Chris Vardy on the edge of the box; Vardy spotted Jordan I’Anson off his line and sent a lob over the Green keeper into the net.

Tring Athletic FC, in black and red, versus Leverstock Green FC

Tring Athletic FC, in black and red, versus Leverstock Green FC

Vardy was through again three minutes later, but this time his shot from a narrow angle was saved by the legs of I’Anson.

Towards the midpoint of the half, Leverstock started to put some serious pressure on the Tring goal. On 27 minutes a cross from Callum Wright found Louis Bircham, whose shot was cleared off the line by Chris Salmon, while Tring almost added a second on the break a minute later, but Kieran Turner’s shot was turned round the post by I’Anson.

A crucial turning point of the game came in the 34th minute. A cross from Wright found Bircham at the far post, and he headed back across goal where Julian Smith side-footed the ball home. But Levy’s celebrations were cut shot by the linesman’s flag, apparently for offside against Smith.

Leverstock continued to push forward, and four minutes later they were denied again when Bircham’s shot was saved by the legs of keeper Matt Evans, and a follow-up effort from Tommy Walsh was headed off the line.

Chris Vardy watches Tring's second goal scored by Sam Jolliffe past goalkeeper Jordan I'Anson

Chris Vardy watches Tring's second goal scored by Sam Jolliffe past goalkeeper Jordan I'Anson

Leverstock didn’t deserve to be behind, but in the last minute of the half they found themselves two goals down. The referee awarded a free-kick to Tring for a foul by Liam O’Keefe, for which the Green skipper was booked, and again it was Stobbs who did the damage as he swung the ball into the box where Sam Joliffe met it with a header that looped over I’Anson and went in off the underside of the bar.

The Green side needed a goal back quickly in the second half, and that is what they got. Three minutes after the restart, Chris Blunden received the ball inside the box, got past a defender and curled a shot past Evans to put his side back into the game at 2-1.

The visitors came close to levelling on 62 minutes when James Budden got on the end of an O’Keefe free-kick, but his header was turned round the post by Evans.

Leverstock continued to press forward but the Tring defence held firm. The game could have gone either way with chances at both ends, but the final heartbreak for Leverstock came in the first minute of stoppage time when Budden again got on the end of a free-kick; this time his header had Evans beaten, but it hit the bar and went over.

The Tring Athletic boys would be Gourcuff's new team-mates, according to Wikipedia

The Tring Athletic boys would be Gourcuff's new team-mates, according to Wikipedia

That was the last action of note, and Tring were left to celebrate their win.