Tring Athletic’s dreams of reaching the fourth round of the FA Vase for the first time in their history were dashed for another year following a 1-0 defeat to Norwich United.
The decisive goal came 13 minutes from time as the visitors just about deserved the victory to make their 300-mile round trip worthwhile.
Norwich came into the game in impressive form having won 12 of their last 13 games to lie six points clear in the Eastern Counties Premier Division, but Athletic acquitted themselves well during a first half where there was little to choose between the two teams.
After a cautious start from both sides, Tring had the first real opening when, following a good move, Taylor Collins’ goal-bound cross has to be kept out by the visiting goalkeeper.
United left-back Andrew Cusack was then lucky to escape punishment for a two-footed lunge before Athletic enjoyed a good spell with Vardy twice having goal-bound shots blocked as the first half ended goalless.
Norwich started the second period well and looked the more likely to open the scoring, but Tring worked hard to keep their opponents at bay and restrict them to few sights of goal.
Midway through the half, stand-in goalkeeper Jack Hopwood made two greats saves, firstly from Ben Thompson and then from Matthew Blake, before there was another moment of controversy when Norwich captain Andrew Eastaugh cynically took out Collins to deny Tring a goalscoring opportunity, but the referee issued only a yellow card.
To compound the home side’s sense of unjustness, the visitors made the vital breakthrough just two minutes later as the ball fell to Matthew Daniels, who promptly fired into an empty net after Hopwood had come out to clear the danger.
Athletic made changes and looked to push forward but they were unable to breach the Norwich defence as the visitors held on for the win.
Tring now turn their attention to picking up some much-needed league points. Last night (Tuesday), Athletic travelled to Stotfold in the South Midlands Premier Division and this Saturday, they host Ampthill Town.