Resilient Athletic return to form in emphatic style

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TWO wins in three days signalled Tring Athletic’s return to form and sealed a cup final place as well as keeping Phil Casserley’s side firmly in the Premier Division runners-up race.

Tring thrashed Langford 5-0 in the Floodlit Cup semi-final on Thursday night before the side beat St Margaretsbury 2-0 to stay level on points with second-placed Royston Town on Saturday.

This is the first time since 2005 that Athletic have reached the final of the Floodlit Cup, and the side will be pleased with their performance against league strugglers Langford.

Tring took the lead through Danny Gray, but with 15 minutes to go, the tie was still in the balance.

However a moment of madness from Langford’s Paul Donald effectively sealed the outcome of the game.

Donald’s crude kick at Nick Jackson led to a penalty and a red card for the aggressor, and Vincenzo Iannone dispatched the resulting spot-kick.

From then on, Tring’s win was inevitable, and a second strike from Gray, as well as an own goal and an effort from Jackson booked the side’s final spot.

With that win under their belt, Athletic’s confidence was clear to see as they saw off St Margaretsbury to keep the pressure on Royston.

First-half goals from Jackson and Ryan Redford did the damage for Tring in a game which, in truth, the side could have won by a bigger margin.

Jackson fired home from the edge of the area to put Athletic ahead eight minutes before half-time, and Redford struck in first-half stoppage time to wrap up the win.

Casserley’s side could have added gloss to the scoreline after the interval but saw three efforts cannon back off the woodwork.

The Tring boss, though, was understandably delighted by the character shown by his side after a difficult spell.

“I set out a target for the boys last Saturday of winning our three home games this week and they’ve done that.

“The reaction of the players has been immense and they boys that have played for me have been brilliant.

“These boys go to work every day and turn up for all these games which is an absolute credit to them.

“Our squad was stretched to the limit with injuries but sometimes when you have to make a few changes to the team, the players work even harder. I’m really chuffed with the attitude of the boys.”

Tring have a much-needed rest this week before taking on Hillingdon Borough away on Saturday.

Casserley said: “Our target is to come second and pick up a trophy and, if we win our last two league games, we can do that.”