Tring Athletic 2 Leverstock Green 1 (AET)
TRING Athletic have clinched the St Mary’s Cup after Nick Jackson struck an extra-time winner to sink Leverstock Green in the final of the competition.
In a hard-fought encounter, both sides will feel that they could have won the game, but it was Athletic who came out on top as Jackson drilled home in the 93rd minute to snatch the victory.
Green had been agonisingly close to winning the game themselves after Lee Bircham blasted home from the spot to give them the lead, but substitute Vinnie Iannone bagged the Tring equaliser with just three minutes of the game left.
For Athletic the win is reward for their endeavours throughout the season, and they can add to the silverware in tomorrow’s Senior Floodlit Cup final.
Green, meanwhile, must pick themselves up in time for next week’s Herts Charity Shield final with London Colney.
The first half was a scrappy encounter, with few chances arriving at either end.
It was Green who hit first after the interval, as the deadlock was broken courtesy of Bircham’s penalty following a foul on Steve Hatch.
Tring boss Phil Casserley responded by bringing on Vinnie Iannone and Ashley Addison, and with three minutes remaining then two combined to devastating effect.
Addison’s cross from the right was met by Iannone, and the froward crashed his header home to equalise.
With the game tied at the end of 90 minutes, the teams went into extra-time, and it was not long before Tring scored the decisive second.
Chris Salmon played in Jackson, and the Athletic man fired home to the elation of the Tring faithful to earn the silverware for his side.
“It’s been a great team effort,” said Tring manager Casserley. “To finish second and win a trophy is exactly what we wanted to do.”
“It’s all down to the fantastic group of players I’ve got – we have a great togetherness and a great will to win.”
Green boss Steve Heath was disappointed but said: “It’s never nice to lose a final but my players always give everything they’ve got.”