18th February. AFC Dunstable 1 Tring Athletic 1
For the 3rd time this season, AFC Dunstable had a chance to win a game to go top of the league but again were quite not up to the challenge. Once again, the opportunity came down to a home midweek game and if that form was to be taken into account, the odds were stacked against them, as when the final whistle blew, it would be 17 points dropped at Creasey Park on a Wednesday night.
The game this evening would revolve around 2 players who have played for AFC since they were 13 year olds. One has remained at the club and the other has moved on. The players in question are Chris Vardy who opened the scoring for Tring and Jamie Warne who drew AFC level. It was just a pity their youth manager at the time, AFC's Vice Chairman Dave Lawlor, was not at the game due to work commitments.
AFC were forced to make one change from the Leverstock Green game, the injured Taishan Griffith was replaced by Warne in the starting line up. Ricky Perks was back in the AFC goal after finally recovering from his eye injury. Tring, in their bright yellow shirts, came firing out of the blocks and gave the AFC players no time on the ball as they worked extremely hard. This ethic would last for the whole game, as their young stars did their club proud with their performance.
They just did not let AFC settle but did challenge the home sides goal and when Vardy struck on 36 minutes, it was no more than they deserved. AFC thought they had drew level 5 minutes later, when a Leon Cashman header was cleared off the line. There was discussion if the ball had crossed the line. Chris Francis then had a chance to draw AFC level but he put his shot just wide of the upright.
Half Time: AFC Dunstable 0 Tring Athletic 1
Needing to up the stakes if they wanted anything out of the game, they were forced into a change at the break. Fabio Bufano, who felt unwell before the game, could not continue so was replaced by Enzo Silvestri. AFC competed a lot better in the 2nd period as they saw more of the ball. They drew level 5 minutes into it, when Warne broke clear and coolly slotted home. The hosts were now creating chances as Jermaine Hall and Grant Fryer came close. The back line though had to be on their guard to quell the dangerous Vardy.
Perks, in the AFC Goal, was then called into action, to make a fine save with 8 minutes left on the clock, as he tipped a well placed strike around the post. Both teams seem to settle for a point as the game drew to a close.
Steve Heath, AFC manager was pleased with his teams 2nd half performance saying " something was missing in the 1st half, as we just could not get going. I was impressed with Tring's commitment and felt we needed to match it in the 2nd half. To be fair to my players, they did and I think a share of the spoils is a fair outcome of the game"
AFC Team: Perks. Mills. Carney. Fryer. Cashman. Warne. Cooper (Campbell 88). Bufano (Silvestri 45). Hall. Bishop. Francis (Simpson 78). Subs not used. Biggadike. Porcelli.
Scorer: Warne (50)
Crime Count. Bufano. Fryer. Bishop (all yellow cards)