The FA Vase Fourth Round Proper
Venue: Grassroots Stadium, Cow Lane
2017-18 Season: Match 50
Saturday 6th January 2018 3pm KO
Tring Athletic: Red Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks
Hullbridge Sports: Blue & White Striped Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Scott W Reporting (Twitter: @ScottMHC14) | Images by Neil Hunwicks (Twitter: @ABridgeTooFar16) unless stated
On FA Vase Fourth Round day & in my 50th match of the season, I made the trip to Cow Lane to see Spartan South Midland Premier side Tring Athletic welcome the Hullbridge Sports, the last Essex Senior League side remaining in this year’s competition. The winner would attain a place in the Last 16, something neither side had done previously.
Onto the teams then and Tring Athletic were skippered by centre-back Dan Steadman with a front three of Max Hercules, Luke Dunstan & Chris Vardy with Jack Read on the bench, more on him later. Hullbridge named a fairly strong side with Russell Harley between the sticks, Rob Hodgson and Gus Douglas as the centre-back pairing with skipper Jimmy Cox and Michael Salako in attack. Perry Hirst also made his first start for the club on the left flank.
Both sides took time adjust to a heavy pitch in the early stages of this match. Midfielder Harry Watkins’ free-kick kept the Tring defence alert six minutes in. Tring responded with forward Luke Dunstan firing a shot wide of the left-side post moments later. Tring took the lead on 12 minutes in freakish circumstances, as Sports right back Shawn Coe in his haste to clear, his attempted clearance struck centre-back Gus Douglas and rebounded into the net.
To be fair, Hullbridge were not out of the match at that point, though they did find it hard to settle into their passing game. Midway into the half, Tring forward Chris Vardy showed promise with a good run down the right flank, though his cross was just out of reach of winger Eliott Goward. Soon aftewards, Hullbridge responded as from Watkins free-kick, Rob Hodgson’s effort drew home goalkeeper Jack Hopwood into action. The visitors had a decent spell as forward Michael Salako’s curling effort struck the woodwork with Hopwood beaten after taking advantage of a slip by Tring right-back Colm Parrott and fellow forward Jimmy Cox’s lob going just wide.
Tring went into the interval ahead but there wasn’t much between the sides really as the visitors could’ve done better with one or two of the chances they’d carved out in the opening 45 minutes.
Half-Time: Tring Athletic 1 – 0 Hullbridge Sports
They say “goals change games”. And that certainly happened two minutes into the second half as substitute Jack Read doubled the home side’s lead with a close-range finish past visiting custodian Russell Harley. Six minutes later, Sports winger Perry Hirst’s drive was denied by Hopwood’s legs.
Tring were pressing well and got their third of the afternoon just shy of the hour mark as Vardy prodded home from close-range on his 200th appearance for the club. Hullbridge did pull a goal back from the penalty spot through skipper Cox after Hodgson was fouled in the area.
The hosts were still looking dangerous in attack as the game got stretched. The Hullbridge defence, led by the warrior that is Hodgson, made a number a important tackles in the second half. Tring were not taking “No” for an answer though as pacey winger Max Hercules’ shot was parried by Harley for a corner with twenty minutes left. From the resulting corner, Mark Riddick got a leap on everyone else and nodded home to vanquish any doubt of the hosts’ progression here.
Hullbridge substitute Luca Frankis headed over in a rare second-half chance for the visitors a minute later. Read had two more chances to add to his account soon after but couldn’t find the target. Tring did get a fifth on the stroke of ninety minutes as Hercules crowned off an impressive performance with a close-range effort past Harley.
Full-Time: Tring Athletic 5 – 1 Hullbridge Sports
In fairness, there was no doubt as to how worthy Tring were in winning this tie today. I wish them well in the next round and for the rest of the season. Also, I would also like to thank them for their very good hospitality, a really nice club with a good programme as well.
Hullbridge will be disappointed today, particularly with their second-half performance as they went somewhat “off-the-boil” going forward after the break. That said, perhaps the score-line was a tad harsh though credit has to go to Tring for taking their chances and for their work-rate. I would like to say thank you to manager Darren Manning & the club for having me on the team coach as well today, that was nice and also to be joined by Non-League & Grassroot Football Show (GFS) colleague Peter D was great too.
There will be a special podcast by Peter & Me from the day for GFS available in the near future. The link wil be posted here, when available.
Jack Hopwood (GK), Colm Parrott, Chris Mason, Mark Riddick, Dan Steadman (Capt), Dave O’Connor (Steve Nott-Macaire 73′) Max Hercules, Tommy Twelves, Chris Vardy (George Carbery 81′), Luke Dunstan, Elliott Goward (Jack Read 29′)
Goal-scorers: Gus Douglas (OG) [12′], Jack Read [47′], Chris Vardy [58′], Mark Riddick [70′], Max Hercules [90′]
Booked: Steadman, O’Connor | Subs Not Used: Sunderland, Hart
Russell Harley (GK), Shawn Coe, Sam Taylor, Joe Pattison, Robert Hodgson, Gus Douglas, Mike Edgar (Matt Tapley 52′), Harry Watkins, Michael Salako, Jimmy Cox (Capt), Perry Hirst (Luca Frankis 71′)
Goal-scorers: Jimmy Cox [Pen 64′]
Booked: Taylor | Subs Not Used: Poole, Ranger, Siemienczuk
Referee: Alex Rayment
Assistant Referees: Ian Stewart & Tom Ratherham