Tring Athletic finally played their first game of the New Year on Saturday and it was well worth the wait as they earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over in-form Biggleswade United.
Tring began 2016 in the same manner as they finished the old year with an impressive win after a debut goal from young centre-back Dave O’Connor.
Afterwards, manager Ian Richardson said:” It was a great game for the supporters with two good sides trying to play the right way. I am pleased to come out on top and there was another goal of the season contender from Dave O’Connor.”
On paper this may have been a game between two mid table sides but they were both bang in form with Biggleswade collecting 25 out of a possible 27 points from their last nine league games while Athletic had tasted defeat just once from their previous nine fixtures.
Despite not playing for three weeks, Tring settled quickly with Sam Joliffe going close from a super Taylor Collins free-kick before Lucas Joyce struck the post for United.
Biggleswade threatened from crosses but Tring looked dangerous on the break as Kieran Turner had a header tipped over the bar before Joyce and then Adam Drakulic both missed presentable headers.
Despite chances continuing to come at both ends, the first half ended goalless.
The second period was equally enjoyable but scoring opportunities became less frequent as both defences tightened up with the best efforts coming from Tring’s Turner and United’s Tom Cookman.
However, with just over a quarter of an hour left, O’Connor picked up the ball on the half way line, showed great skill to break forward and pass out wide to the left then continue his run into the box to head home the cross and put Tring ahead. It was a terrific piece of play by the 20-year-old defender and a great time to open his account for the club.
Biggleswade responded by pushing players forward but Athletic, superbly led by skipper Dan Steadman, were well organised and made life difficult for their opponents as they held on. The win pushed Athletic up three places to 10th in the SSML Premier Division with games in hand.
They now have two home games this week, with Herts County side Bushey Sports the visitors on Tuesday for a St Marys Cup tie then on Saturday Athletic return to league action for the visit of Colney Heath.