Tring Athletic’s recent league form may be patchy but they put that aside to beat Ampthill Town 4-1 and book their place in the last-64 of the FA Vase.
For the second year running – and only the third time in their history – Tring progressed through to the third round proper with an ultimately emphatic victory over fellow SSML side Ampthill.
A brace of goals from leading scorer Chris Vardy and promising youngster Kieran Turner sealed a fine win, but this was a closer encounter than the scoreline suggests.
It was only in the last few minutes that visiting supporters could relax when Athletic added two late goals.
Despite their struggles, Ampthill were buoyed by a draw with high-flying Harefield United in midweek and this was reflected in their battling first half performance in which there was little to choose between the two sides.
Kevin McManus made some excellent breaks down the right wing and he whipped in a couple of good crosses which the home defence hastily cleared.
Ampthill winger Festus Mansaray looked lively in the early stages and picked out Junior Fry with a decent ball, but the striker’s first time shot was well wide of the target.
Athletic won a lot of corners but nothing came of them until just after the half hour mark when Paul Jeffrey was denied a goal by a brilliant save from home keeper Jordan McKechnie.
Eight minutes later, Jeffrey was involved in Athletic’s most dangerous moment of the half when he sent in a superb cross which Vardy fired over the bar.
Athletic keeper Matt Evans was not over-stretched but, just before half-time, he had to push away a fierce shot from Fry.
After a goalless first half, Athletic took only three minutes to take the lead in the second period when McManus’ super cross to the far post was tucked away by Vardy.
The home side raised their game and pushed forward looking for an equaliser, but there were few scoring opportunities created by either side.
That changed with 12 minutes to go when Athletic doubled their lead as substitute Taylor Collins fed fellow sub Turner who finished well.
Ampthill were reduced to 10-men 15 minutes from time when centre-back Ashley Mead received a second yellow card, but they struck back with a goal from Charlie Cullen to raise their hopes of forcing the tie into extra-time.
Athletic eventually doused any hopes of a revival with a goal in the 88th minute from Vardy who took a fine pass from Sam Joliffe and slotted the ball past the keeper.
The tie was finally put to bed a minute into stoppage time when Vardy and Turner combined to carve open the home defence and Turner kept his cool to score from close range.