A goal from Broxbourne Borough captain Ryan Wade was enough to end Tring Athletic’s run of eight unbeaten games – but the match was mired in controversy when the home side were reduced to 10 men just past the half hour mark.
The incident involved Dave O’Connor, who battled with Chancey Dash for a loose ball but clearly managed to poke it back safely to his keeper.
There was utter disbelief around the stadium when the referee subsequently blew for a foul and then sent off the young Athletic defender for being the last man – a red card which has since been rescinded.
Athletic now faced playing for over an hour with a man short, having already been required to readjust their starting line-up and playing style following the departure of leading scorer Chris Vardy to Dunstable Town.
But despite these hurdles the players rose to the occasion and performed superbly throughout. From the kick-off they tore at the Boro defence and there was a genuine call for a penalty after only three minutes when the visiting keeper flew out of his goal, missed the ball and appeared to flatten Luke Dunstan. But nothing came of it.
Athletic were using the full width of the pitch, utilising Ryan Sturges on the left and Lee Stobbs on the other flank, while home keeper Matt Evans was forced into making good saves from Lee Brennan and Dash.
An open and entertaining half ended scoreless and, although a man down, Athletic were still very much in the game.
Tring had two great opportunities to open the scoring at the start of the second half, firstly through Stobbs who shot into the side netting after being released by a magnificent pass from Kieran Turner, and then Ollie Hogg who was denied by a superb save from the Boro keeper.
But as so often happens in football, after those two close shaves Boro went up the other end to show Athletic how it was done with Ryan Wade converting a pass from Dash.
Undeterred by another set-back, Athletic continued to take the game to their opponents and a neutral spectator would not have been unaware of the disparity in numbers.
Sturges forced another good save from the keeper and Ollie Hogg’s follow-up shot was cleared off the line. Athletic were pushing forward in numbers, leaving themselves vulnerable to quick breaks, and the visitors spurned a couple of good opportunities.
As the clock ticked down, Athletic applied the pressure with Sam Joliffe, Bertie Squires-Adams and Turner all going agonisingly close, but it was not going their way and they fell to a narrow one-goal defeat.
It was a superb performance from the Athletic players who, despite the odds stacked against them, did not deserved to lose. But they have two great opportunities to bounce back with visits to London Tigers on Tuesday and then Harefield United on Saturday.
Tring Athletic: 1 Matt Evans 2 Lee Stobbs 3 Ryan Sturges (16 Jack Sunderland 73) 4 Sam Joliffe (Capt) 5 Dave O’Connor 6 Kevin McManus 7 Chris Mason 8 Ryan McMahon (14 Jack Westlake 61) 9 Ollie Hogg 10 Kieran Turner 11 Luke Dunstan (12 Bertie Squires-Adams 69). Subs not used: 15 Stuart Stedman 17 Dan Steadman.
Broxbourne Borough: 1 Adam Seymour (14 Emmanuel Olajide 69) 2 Rian Carroll 3 Matt Roles 4 Lee Brennan 5 Kendall Allan 6 Reece Lyons 7 Tom Oram 8 John Meggicks (15 Michael Nathan (90+3) 9 Ryan Wade (Capt) (12 Mark Brennan 72) 10 Chancey Dash 11 Adam Murad. Subs not used: 16 Nick Briggs 17 George Collins.