Berkeley Fields, home of North Greenford United, is situated a mile or so off the A40 Western Avenue. Not a million miles from Wembley Stadium or from the infamous Hangar Lane Gyratory. There is very limited parking actually within the confines of the stadium (I presume players and officials only). However, there is a large car park just behind the club, shared with the local Irish sports club and a dog training centre.
The ground is accessed through a turnstile gate which leads in behind one of the goals. There is a fairly large, and warm, clubhouse as well as a tea/snack bar next to the entrance. Behind the car park goal there are two covered stand, one seating, directly behind the goal, and one standing area between the goal and corner flag. There is also another covered standing area to the right hand side, the Berkeley Avenue side of the ground with the dugouts situated on the opposite side of the pitch. There is a slight slope towards the car park end of the pitch.
Given the recent weather, the pitch didn't look too bad. Certainly heavy in places and sanded towards the car park end, mainly on the touchlines, but all in all it had seemed to hold up quite well.
The week leading up to this game had been something of a rollercoaster ride for Tring Athletic. Although I wasn't fully aware of the situation until I spoke with a committee member during the first-half, the previous week had seen the club lose the first-team manager and a number of players. This came after their Chairman had stood down following some internal politics at the club. There still appears to be some turmoil behind the scenes surrounding the nature of the the various departures from the club. The account that I had from the committee member and the various notices on the club website (which I am told are subject to a request for them to be taken off the site) do not match those of at least one of member of staff who left last week. Let's hope, for the sake of all concerned, that the situation gets resolved in a fit and proper manner.
The team had then gone on to beat mid-table Leverstock Green 6-0 at the weekend, which put them 5 points behind leaders Colney Heath with a game in hand. However, they now faced a tricky away game at a resurgent North Greenford. The Blues started the day second from bottom with just 16 points from their 22 games. However, when you consider that 14 of those 16 points came in the last 7 league games, you can see that the club is on an upward curve.
Combine that with, I'm told, Tring named three under 18s in their back four, playing in front of an under 18 goalkeeper could make for an interesting contest.
Tring began the game kicking down the slight slope on a freezing cold evening in West London. The game was fairly evenly matched in the opening encounters with both sides looking to make progress down the flanks. Nimoh on the right and Sunderland on the left for Tring both looked to have some pace and trickery, whilst Jake Nickless on Greenford's left side was also causing some problems for the Tring backline.
It was Tring who came closest to grabbing a goal in the first 25 minutes, Cornick with a good effort that wasn't too far off target and it was the away side who grabbed the lead shortly afterwards. A couple of corners had already caused some consternation with the wind taking them in towards the Greenford goal. Another corner, this time dropped a little shorter, just inside the near post, where Prince Nimoh was on hand to bundle it over the line. 0-1.
Just about on the half-hour mark Tring were, in my opinion, lucky to keep 11 players on the pitch when Olly Butler, chasing back in midfield, lunged from behind on one of the Greenford players. Maybe it looked worse than it was but from my vantage point it did look like a red card challenge to me and the Greenford player was lucky not to have sustained an injury. The referee produced a yellow card for Butler.
Just before the half hour mark Tring almost made it two when Greenford lost the ball in midfield, creating a three on one situation for the Tring forwards. The ball was played to Jack Sutherland whose shot beat House in the Greenford goal but came back off the far post. A let off for the home side.
HT North Greenford United 0 Tring Athletic 1. Overall, not that much between the sides but Tring created the better chances and probably should be more than one goal to the good at the break.
To be fair to both teams, they both played the remainder of the half looking for a winning goal. Greenford were much more of a threat going forward than they had been in the first half, going close a couple of times and worrying Saunders in the Athletic goal. Tring, for their part, were still creating chances, especially with raids down their right. Twice they had balls pulled across the box that just required a good finish. Neither time did they manage to apply that finish.
Then came the sting in the tail as North Greenford launched on final attack with two minutes of added time already played. It proved to be the killer blow as substitute Reha Zerki slid the ball in from a tight angle to make it 2-1
FT North Greenford United 2 Tring Athletic 1. The late goal was a little harsh on a young Tring side who battled hard throughout the game. Greenford made it 5 wins from their last 8 as they prepare to take on the league leaders, Colney Heath, on Saturday. Tring, meanwhile, face 7th placed Crawley Green at home this coming weekend.
North Greenford United: House, Brown, Dioum, Ward, Coker, Mills, Pedro, Manitou(c), Davis, Molyneaux, Nickless. Subs: Webb, Kirwan, Zerki, Eubia, Curd
Tring Athletic: Saunders, Habashi, Cowan, Foley, Cornick, McManus(c), Salmon, Butler, Asante, Nimoh, Sunderland. Subs: Barkers-Obua, Hercules, Naylor, Blake
Ground Number: 228