Tring Athletic 1 Stotfold 0
TRING Athletic continued their fine end-of-season form as they saw off Stotfold to claim their fourth successive win.
Connor Waite pounced early in the second half to earn the points for Tring, who are well on track to secure an impressive top-six finish.
Julian Robinson’s side went into Saturdays clash full of confidence following the 5-1 thrashing of Hatfield Town in midweek, but knew they were in for a stern test against a Stotfold side who had lost just one of their previous 12 games.
And Robinson was forced to reshuffle his pack as influential trio Graham Hall, Andy Hughes and Matt Jarvis were all unavailable.
As a result, the Tring boss selected a youthful starting XI, including eight players aged 21 or younger.
It was Stotfold who made the brighter start of the two teams and Andy Mullins was forced into a good clearance from a dangerous cross early on.
At the other end, Waite lashed in a superb delivery which narrowly evaded the waiting pack, while a quick Stotfold break was stopped by a fine James Butler tackle.
Stotfold perhaps shaded proceedings towards the end of the half, but with few goalscoring chances for either team, the sides went in level at the interval.
Neither side could have been expecting what happened at the start of the second half, however, as Athletic stormed out of the blocks to take the lead 27 seconds after the restart.
Tony Fields surged down the left, before picking our Waite with a pin-point delivery which the youngster gratefully slotted home.
Athletic’s blistering start to the second half continued, and the hosts nearly doubled their advantage one minute later as Waite’s shot deflected off Reon Thomas to almost wrongfoot the Stotfold keeper.
Stotfold looked for a response, but Athletic were defending resolutely while Mike Underwood was having another fine game between the sticks.
With just a few minutes remaining, substitute Connor Smith produced some terrific skill to set up Fields but he saw his volley fly narrowly over the bar.
Despite plenty of endeavour from Stotfold, they failed to make a breakthrough and Athletic ran out as deserved winners.
The victory extends Tring’s lead over seventh-placed Colney Heath to six points with just three league games left to play.
Athletic are still in with a chance of catching fifth-placed Aylesbury United, with the Ducks only three points above the Dacorum side.
The next league game for Tring is a trip to Biggleswade United on Saturday.