01:36PM, Tuesday 17 May 2022
Credit: Glenn Alcock Photography
Jamie Essex (above) believes Tring Athletic were destined to triumph in the Premier Division Cup final over Flackwell Heath ‘right from the first whistle’ when the two sides locked horns at Leverstock Green FC last Thursday.
Despite a 12-day break before the showdown, Tring had no trouble warming to the occasion and were able to dismantle the Heathens, who appeared ‘tired and slow’ following the hiatus, with three well-taken goals.
It was a bitterly disappointing result for Essex who was hoping to see his team cap a thoroughly impressive season in Spartan South Midlands Premier Division with some silverware.
To have hardly any chances over the 90 minutes worthy of exciting the Heathens’ fans was equally as upsetting for the 29-year-old skipper.
Speaking to the Advertiser earlier this week, he said: “Everyone was so upset and disappointed with the performance. Sometimes you have to put your hands up and say, ‘yeah, we were beaten by the better team’, and that was the case on Thursday night.
“We got nowhere near to our full potential and we weren’t able to show what we’ve been capable of since Chris (Ayres) and Paul (Shone) came in. We’re gutted we didn’t put in a better showing especially for the people that travelled over to watch us.
“We get a great following at Flackwell Heath, and we had a fair few fans at the game but we didn’t really have any moments over the course of the 90 minutes where we excited them.
“We always know we are capable of scoring goals and at half-time it was only 1-0, even though it could have been a lot more, so in reality we weren’t out of the game. But unfortunately, we didn’t really impress in the second half. It was pretty much a repeat of the first and I am not sure why that happened so we eventually let in two more goals.
“There were 12 days between the semi-final and the final and you could say that had an effect, but we trained a couple of times during that break. I guess it’s not the same as playing competitvely and you do have that end-of-season mentality when the league is finished.
“Ultimately, Tring deserved it right from the first whistle. I thought they were brilliant, and they never really allowed us a chance to get going. They had a gameplan from the beginning, they stuck to it, and every man did their job.”
Essex is optimistic that he and his team will learn from the experience and to have reached the final stage in the tournament is an achievement that cannot be understated, given the shape the Heathens were in when Ayres and Shone took over.
“We really turned our season around when Chris and Paul came in and to get to the cup final is a massive achievement,” he said.
“Obviously, having that disappointment of losing right at the end is something you don’t want to feel again so hopefully we can get ourselves in the same situation next year and go one better.
“We will all learn from this and take confidence knowing we made it so far.”
Closures are planned on the M4 between Langley and the M25 this weekend for smart motorway works.