Tring Athletic completed their pre-season preparations with contrasting outcomes in their final two friendlies.
On Saturday they beat Redhill 4-1 while last Wednesday they suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat against Aylesbury United
In the midweek defeat they produced an uncharacteristically poor performance although they did face a very good Ducks side that play at a higher level and produced some very good football.
Tring are very unlikely to meet a side as good as this during the season.
On Saturday they were sluggish in the first half against Redhill, who will play in the Combined Counties Premier Division (same level as Tring in the football pyramid) this season.
Tring did open the scoring in the 12th minute when Chris Blunden smartly finished off a fine move that started in Athletic’s half.
But then they started to look slack and Connor Richardson had to be alert to keep out a shot on target. From the resulting corner Redhill hit the post but that let off was short-lived when Redhill equalised in the 25th minute.
Tring switched off when their opponents took a quick free-kick then allowed a Redhill player to seemingly dribble through five or six weak challenges before planting the ball past Richardson. It was a fully-deserved equaliser but poor defending from Tring.
Some well-chosen words from Ian Richardson during the break and the introduction of some new players in the second-half had the desired effect and Athletic went on to dominate the rest of the game and score three more goals to run out easy winners in the end.
The turning point came just after the hour mark in somewhat bizarre fashion when the Redhill keeper – a trialist who had been on the field a mere five minutes –made a complete muck-up of a clearance and grabbed hold of Chris Vardy to put him off scoring.
In a normal competitive game a red card would have resulted but as this was a friendly the general feeling was that a penalty was sufficient punishment but the referee disagreed and sent-off the poor chap to ensure one of the shortest trials in the history of the game.
Newcomer John Smith despatched the spot-kick to put Tring back in front and from then on they dominated the game. While the extra man made a difference, Tring were looking a different proposition following the changes.
Vardy set up fellow striker Blunden who doubled his tally with a confident finish and then Vardy got in on the act, latching onto a fine pass from Qwam Thomas to round the keeper and squeeze the ball home with his right foot from a tight angle.
Vardy then hit the post and Thomas missed a sitter but there were no more goals and the final score ended 4-1.
Afterwards boss Richardson said: “Apart from the performance against Aylesbury, when we played well below what we are capable of, we have generally performed very well in the other friendlies, winning all four games, scoring 20 goals and conceding just three.
“We have retained nearly all of last season’s squad that produced a very successful season and we have added some players who I believe will strengthen the team and score more goals.
“I am really looking forward to the new season and we are optimistic that we will do better than last year.”
Tring were due to open the season last night (Tuesday) with a tough home game against local rivals Leverstock Green in the Herts Charity Shield, a competition they have won three times but have been the beaten finalists in the last two seasons.
Then on Saturday they travel to fellow South Midland side Colney Heath to commence their FA Cup campaign.