Athletic held to a 4-4 draw ahead of huge clash with Biggleswade this weekend
Promotion hopefuls Tring Athletic were held to a 4-4 draw at 16th-placed North Greenford United on Saturday as they slipped to second place in the tight SSML Premier title race.
Missing two key central defenders, visitors Tring were unable to cope with Greenfold’s direct, physical approach and were undone by an injury-time sickener.
Athletic were disappointed to drop two points, with a dog-fight now developing at the top with four teams vying for promotion. The favourites are Biggleswade FC, in third, who have five games in hand over leaders Hadley and three over Tring.
The much-fancied Biggleswade have lost just once in the league and they visit Tring this Saturday. A victory for Athletic would re-ignite their title hopes.
In their last four games Tring have found themselves behind but they took the early initiative on Saturday in the 18th minute when Mark Riddick netted his fifth of the season with a smart header from a free-kick.
Athletic looked in control and the hosts had barely threatened but midway through the half Tring failed to deal with a free-kick and Nick Turner smashed it into the roof of the net.
Athletic deservedly regained the lead just before half-time when the ball pin-balled around the United area before Luke Dunstan – making a welcome return from injury in late October – stabbed the ball home.
In the second period play was held up for some time due to an injury to United keeper Frazer Siddall and Tring’s players switched off, allowing the hosts to grab two goals in three minutes either side of the hour via skipper Ben Long and their leading scorer Aaron McLeish’s 21st this term.
Athletic showed character to level the score at 3-3 in the 76th minute through George Ironton, who fired home from outside the area.
Two minutes later Tring went ahead 4-3 when Dunstan was fouled in the area and Kieran Turner converted the penalty.
United brought on a big forward and went route one to bombard Athletic with long balls. They seemed to have weathered the storm but the referee added more than six minutes of injury time due to the Siddall stoppage and just before the final whistle Harvie Gardiner headed home a corner for a dramatic equaliser.