Oxhey Jets 2 Tring Athletic 3
TRING Athletic came from behind twice to pick up a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Oxhey Jets.
Stewart King had cancelled out an early Oxhey opener, but the hosts struck back in the second half to regain the lead.
King again drew Athletic level, before substitute Andy Humphreys pounced late on to snatch the points for the away side.
After an even opening to the game, Oxhey drew first blood as lively young centre-forward Lewis Putman evaded two tackles before slotting the ball past Tring keeper Mike Underwood to put his side 1-0 up.
Tring pressed for an equaliser, and could have been awarded a penalty as King looked to have been felled by Oxhey stopper Sam Styles, but the referee waved away the Athletic appeals.
While fortunate not to have been punished by the referee, Styles was knocked unconscious in the collision and had to be replaced by Mark Jessop between the sticks.
Visitors Tring continued to search for a leveller, and skipper Graham Hall was unfortunate to see his fine header strike the crossbar.
But Athletic finally forced the breakthrough after 37 minutes as Danny Gray picked out King with a well-taken free-kick, and the latter headed home.
Julian Robinson’s side were firmly in the ascendancy and had opportunities to take the lead after half-time, but Connor Waite and King both spurned clear-cut chances.
And they were made to pay for their profligacy in the 71st minute as the hosts moved back in front courtesy of a Chris McIntyre header.
The goal came against the run of play, and Athletic deservedly restored parity just three minutes later.
Hall reacted intelligently to the award of a free-kick – slipping the ball out to Waite who crossed for King to stab home.
King was causing the Oxhey defence all sorts of problems with his pace and dexterity, and his 77th minute cross looked destined to result in a goal for substitute Humphreys, but Jessop reacted smartly to deny the Tring man.
And Jessop was in the thick of the action one minute later – this time for the wrong reasons from the point of view of the hosts.
The keeper appeared to have grabbed the lose ball following a challenge on King, but Humphreys prodded home and the match officials were satisfied that it was a perfectly legal challenge – despite Jessop’s furious protests.
With the lead now theirs, Tring were in no mood to relinquish the three points and held on for the win.
At the time the Gazette went to press, Tring were preparing for a cup tie with Ampthill Town.