Smashing Vase win keep’s Tring’s Wembley hopes alive

Tring Athletic, in red shirts versus Eynesbury Rovers.'Chris Salmon, left, and Sam Joliffe.
Tring Athletic, in red shirts versus Eynesbury Rovers.'Chris Salmon, left, and Sam Joliffe.

Tring Athletic kept their FA Vase dreams alive with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Eynesbury Rovers in the second round of the competition.

A goal from Chris Salmon early in the second half was enough to send Athletic into the last-64 of the tournament, equalling the club’s best ever run in the prestigious national competition.

Eynesbury made the 90-mile round trip from St Neots in Cambridgeshire on the back of an impressive start to the season in which they have lost just three of their 21 games in all competitions and sit second in the United Counties League Division One.

Rovers looked sharp from the off but, despite dominating large spells of possession, the visitors failed to test Tring keeper Mike Underwood.

Gradually Athletic started to get into the game and the best chance of the half fell to Ryan Sturges who shot just wide of the post.

The first opening of the second half fell to Rovers talisman Lee Bassett – who has notched 97 goals in 125 appearances for the club – but Underwood got down well to make a superb save.

And that was to prove crucial as Athletic took the lead in the 53rd minute when defender Salmon converted a corner from Graham Hall.

The balance of the game changed with Athletic looking the better side and more dangerous in attack.

They had several opportunities to settle the tie with Salmon just failing to find the net from close range when a free-kick fell to him, before Sam Joliffe smashed the ball over the bar after a good cut-back from Vinnie Iannone.

Aaron Cavill tested Underwood with a well-struck free-kick and defender Paul Reynolds came close with a header as Rovers searched for an equaliser, but Tring held firm to secure a memorable victory.

Tring manager Julian Robinson said “I thought my team wanted it more and their will to win was the difference.

“It’s the sign of a good team when you can win after a poor first 45 minutes.

“I am really pleased for everyone after a tricky lead up to the match with Tony Fields failing a fitness test before the game, Graham Hall having been ill most of the week and missing training and Trevor Gibbs dropping out for family reasons.

“So all in all I thought they did really well against a very strong side.”

Next up for Athletic is a trip to AFC Dunstable for a SSML Premier Division fixture on Saturday afternoon.

Tring currently sit in 12th place in the division, although they have a number of games in hand over the majority of their league rivals.

Dunstable, meanwhile, are occupying fifth spot in the table but have not won any of their previous five matches in all competitions.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 3pm at Creasey Park.