Tring Athletic climbed to fifth in the SSMl Premier with a 3-1 win at newly-promoted Crawley Green on Saturday.
Athletic found themselves a goal behind and under the cosh against Green but they showed the sort of mettle that has sustained them through 17 unbeaten games to come back and take the lead by half time, adding a third goal in the second half .
Their first ever league encounter against the Luton-based outfit saw them travel to the picturesque Barton Rovers ground where Crawley Green have a long standing ground sharing arrangement.
The home side have endured a recent poor run of form, with just one draw the only tangible reward from their last six games, but they started this encounter the stronger, taking the game to Athletic with some swift penetrating attacks with Charlie Clayton and Aaron Brown producing decent early attempts at goal.
Green were rewarded for their positive start by opening the scoring in the 12th minute, although the manner of the goal was soft, the referee deeming that Ryan Sturges had handled the ball when it appeared to be a case of it accidentally hitting his arm. Nevertheless they took full advantage when Aaron Brown fired home the spot kick.
Going behind seemed to spark Athletic into life and they leveled the score within ten minutes with another soft penalty after a defender tripped Adam Scotcher. Sam Joliffe wacked it home for his eighth goal of the season to draw him level with leading scorer Chris Vardy who was not available for this match.
The game was now more evenly balanced with the impressive Charlie Clayton sending one effort just over then going even closer by striking the woodwork. Seconds after that near miss Athletic struck with a second goal, Jack Sunderland latching onto a quickly taken free kick then firing an angled shot past the keeper into the far corner. It was a superb finish from Sunderland and great time to open his account for the First Team this season.
Athletic went close to extending their lead with the superb Luke Dunstan steering a fine shot just over then Ryan Sturges smacked a shot against the bar but by half time the visitors will have been pleased at way they had come back strongly after a tentative start.
Tring took control of the second half with Sam Joliffe hitting the post with a free kick, George Carbery going close on a couple of occasions and Jack Sunderland forcing a brilliant finger tipping save from the home keeper. The home side were then dealt a blow in the 67th minute when Joe Bradbury was given a straight red card for a dangerous tackle.
But despite being a man short CGGreenwere still in the game and Clayton forced Jack Hopwood into a fine save. With 13 minutes to go Athletic finally got a deserved third goal when Luke Dunstan’s superb dribble from the bye line set up George Carbery for the fourth time in five games.
The home side valiantly tried to respond and Clayton forced a great save from Jack Hopwood but Athletic were able to see out the game for another valuable victory.
Overall this was another fine performance from Athletic with midfielder Sam Joliffe having an outstanding game in central defence. The three points pushed them up to fifth in the table and if they win their games in hand they would move up to third.
Athletic have two home games coming up next week. On Tuesday they face Oxhey Jets in the Herts Senior Challenge Cup then on Saturday they have a Premier Division match against Edgware Town.
CG: 1 Dean Bull 2 Kevin McManus 3 Ed Skinner 4 Sam Pemberton (Capt) 5 Luke Fonseca (12 Reece Green 83) 6 Liam McGovern 7 Ashton Grant 8 Joe Bradbury 9 Charlie Clayton 10 Stuart Strange (14 Rob Newman 83) 11 Aaron Brown (15 Kane Dempsey 83).
TA: 1 Jack Hopwood 2 Jack Seaton 3 Chris Mason 4 Paddy Downes (12 George Brinkman 72) 5 Dan Steadman (Capt) 6 Sam Joliffe 7 Ryan Sturges (14 Lanre Ladipo 86) 8 George Carbery 9 Adam Scotcher 10 Jack Sunderland (16 Cameron Brooks 89) 11 Luke Dunstan. Sub not used: 15 Lessa Boka 17 Stuart Stedman.
CG: Aaron Brown Pen (12)
TA: Sam Joliffe Pen (22), Jack Sunderland (34), George Carbery (77)