Harefield made the surprisingly short journey to Tring in Hertfordshire on a changeable afternoon weather wise, mostly warm with cloudy periods and rain threatening. Manager Jason Shaw made one alteration to last week’s team who beat Lydney in the FA Cup, attacking midfielder Tashan Jordan coming in for left back Elliott Dobbs, so allowing Harry McCorkell to return to his favoured defensive role.
United kicked off in their all-white away strip, number nine Andrew Harewood quickly finding the byline on the left and crossing straight at the Athletic keeper. After four short minutes Tring attacked on their left flank, centre forward Joe Naylor looping a hopeful cross over the out of position Reece Mallett and the home team went ahead with an early goal.
The Hares continued to attack, winning two quick corners and a Paul Underwood long throw into the box but these endeavours came to nothing. Underwood was then taken out in the air, the resultant free kick by Samuel Shaw going out for a goal kick. On eighteen minutes Harefield had a good chance on goal when defender Ryan Wharton put Harewood through, the Tring goalkeeper came out to attempt smothering the ball but it fell to advancing striker Richard Pacquette whose lobbed effort went just wide.
The share of possession was fairly even for the rest of the first half, neither side making great inroads. The visitors had a couple of chances, on twenty seven minutes Harewood was fouled just outside the Tring penalty area, McCorkell stood over the ball as Shaw teed up the free kick then as Shaw feinted his run up McCorkell blasted the ball over the bar. Then with two minutes of the half remaining a Shaw corner from the right was cleared only as far as Pacquette on the edge of the box and the striker shot straight at the home keeper.
A goal down at half time then, Harefield suffered a sucker punch two minutes after the restart when a Tring player appeared to handle the ball in the Hares’ area and referee Mr Wordsworth awarded the home side a penalty kick which number ten Matthew Mitchell duly converted.
On sixty three minutes Manager Shaw brought on last season’s top scorer Lenny Farhall for Harewood, this move paid off three minutes later, a Wharton free kick put Farhall through, beating his defender and putting a low shot past the Tring keeper. Two- one down now and the Hares were back in it now, the speedy Farhall occupying the home defence. Left back Dobbs replaced McCorkell on the seventy minute mark, there then followed a couple of minutes of controversy that resulting in putting the game beyond Harefield’s reach.
A Tring player was cautioned for kicking the ball away, under the new temporary dismissal law this is classed as dissent and one would normally expect the player to be ‘sin binned’ for ten minutes. Two minutes later the ball struck Farhall on the hand from short range, he was unable to get his hand out of the way and expressed his annoyance at himself. With twelve minutes remaining Farhall was sent to the sin bin for ten of those minutes, leaving Harefield to play the majority of the time left with ten men and without their most effective striker.
Tring made the most of this, adding two more goals, a second from Naylor and a header from a corner by Luke Dunstan. Game over then, Farhall returned with two minutes remaining, Mallett pulled off a flying save to prevent a Tring fifth and it was a bitterly disappointed Harefield that returned to Middlesex.
United now have a break from the league for a few weeks, with FA Cup action away to Evesham United next Saturday and an FA Vase fixture on the following.
Hares team:- Mallet, McCorkell, Green, Wharton, Jordan, Mangan (c), S. Shaw, Underwood, Harewood, Pacquette, Baldwin. Subs, Farhall, Dobbs. Not used, Clark, Rogers, Edwards.
By Gary South