Hereford United did enough to claim their third sucessive Conference victory against Canvey Island at Edgar Street this afternoon. The Bulls never had to hit top form against their lowly opposition in a game that won't be remembered for the quality of football. The game will probably not live long in the memory of many.
The Bulls had to adjust their side to accomodate the gap left by Joe Anyinsah in the midfield and so Adam Stansfield was drafted into the attack. Rob Purdie was dropped back into the midfield to play on the left wing.
In a fairly equal first half neither 'keeper was really troubled until the breakthrough after thirty-eight minutes. Craig Stanley opened up the Gull's defence with a first time pass to Danny Williams on the flank, but his cross was blocked by a recovering defender. Canvey put pressure on the home defence with some good passing around the area and skipper Tony James was forced to concede a corner when he blocked a cross. The corner was swung in to the far post where lone-striker Lee Boylan hooked the ball onto the outside of the post.
Simon Travis made a burst down the right and delivered a good cross for Purdie at the far post, but he was beaten to it by a defender who cleared for a corner. Stanley was booked for dissent before John Kennedy found captain Jeff Minton twenty-five yards out, but his effort was no problem for Craig Mawson.
Hereford upped their game in the last ten minutes of the half and this paid off well for them. The dangerous Danny Carey-Bertram hit a wonderful cross field ball for Purdie to run onto but he shot first time when he could have perhaps taken an extra touch or two. However, Danny Potter was forced into a good diving save as he pushed the ball out for a throw. Mark Robinson received the ball from the throw and crossed in from the left. The ball was headed away but only as far as Williams, who hit a low volley from twenty yards into the bottom corner. In injury time Stansfield almost added a second when he lifted a head on from Carey-Bertram over the advancing goalie, but the ball fell just wide of the far post.
The second half started with Canvey having the chance to equalise but they squandered the opportunity. Robinson was dispossesed on the wing and Boylan raced onto a pass from the midfield unchallenged, as Tamika Mkandawire attempted to hold the defensive line. Mawson raced out to clear but Boylan beat him to it and shot first time, only to see his effort bounce off the top of the bar. John Keeling crossed for Boylan who headed goalbound from twelve yards, but the outstretched hand of Mawson tipped the ball beyond the post.
Carey-Bertram collected the ball inside his own half, raced down the right and attempted a cross that ended up goalbound. Potter had to backtrack and reach out to push the ball over the bar in order to avoid embarrasment. United then made two forced changes in quick sucession due to injury. Jamie Pitman was replaced by Graham Hyde and David Brown took Stansfield's place as he limped off.
United showed their quality with some good passing on the wings and Carey-Bertram came close to doubling the lead when he headed Purdie's cross from the left onto the post from fifthteen yards out. Hyde found the run of Brown with a good pass, but Brown's shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide.
Hereford saw out the rest of the game without too much dificulty as Canvey tried to nick a point. However, they rarely looked like scoring from open play with James and man of the match Mkandawire excelling at centre back. A couple of set pieces late on were the Gull's best chance of a goal, but it never came and the Whites got the result they wanted. The crowd of 2,656, including 48 away fans, were rarely excited by the encounter, but the home supporters knew that it was the win rather than the scoreline that mattered today.
HUFC Team: Mawson, Travis, James, Mkandawire, Robinson, Williams, Stanley, Pitman, Purdie, Stansfield, Carey-Bertram. Subs: Tretton, Green, Scott, Hyde, Brown.
CIFC Team: Potter, Kennedy, Duffy, Theobold, Ward, McGhee, Keeling, Minton, Noto, Sedgemore, Boylan. Subs: Harrison, Sterling, Burton, Berquez, McDougald.