Hereford United continuted their tradition of taking all three points from Aldershot Town as the rivals clashed once again at The Recreation Ground last night. It is the fifth time that the two sides have met in the Conference and Hereford boast a 100% record.
The sides were, yet again, equally matched and it was no suprise that just one goal was enough to seperate the sides, although both looked as though they could have added to the score line. Graham Turner made some much needed changes following the unacceptable performance at Halifax on the weekend. Skipper Tony James was sacrificed to accomodate a change of formation, to 4-4-2. Dean Beckwith was absent meaning Tamika Mkandawire and Darren Blewitt paired up at centre back. Rob Purdie was reintroduced to the side on the left wing and new loan signing Matt Bailey partnered Danny Carey-Bertram in attack.
And the change of tactics paid dividens almost immediately for United. Even before everyone had time to make their way into the ground, the visitors had broken the deadlock. A longball direct from the kick off resulted in a corner kick for The Bulls. Carey-Bertram and Jon Brady worked a quick, short corner and Carey-Bertram found space on the corner of the box to smash a shot across the face of the goal and into the far top corner, silencing the home fans and sending the travelling support or around 200 into delerium.
Aldershot were quick to remind United that they were still in the game and went close at the other end. Nick Crittenden soon forced Wayne Brown into a good save before Brady fired over at the other end following a cross from Ryan Green. Carey-Bertram then latched onto a through ball and was felled by Andre Boucaud, seemingly inside the penalty box, but the linesman indicated a foul right on the edge of the area. Another free kick, from Brady, fell to Bailey in the box but his shot was blocked and then Purdie had an even better opportunity but again a defender was in the way.
Four minutes before the break, Terry Brown made the first change of the game replacing Steve Watson with Ryan Scott. The Shots came out in the second half with renewed energy and had Hereford on the back foot for the most part of the second period. Blewitt was carded for a foul twenty five yards out, which required a good save by Brown to deny an equaliser. Stephen Reed put another set peice over the bar while, at the other end, Bailey shot at Nicki Bull when a corner found its way to him.
Scott Guyett saw a header clawed away by Brown as The Shots continued to pressure and then Tim Sills put a header wide. United almost finished the game, against the run of play, but Bull did well to tip the ball wide. With just over a hour gone, Brady managed to find Bailey in a good position and his shot on the turn appeared to be heading into the bottom corner but Bull saved well.
Perhaps the best chance for the hosts came when Crittenden's corner was touched on by Guyett and then nodded over, from two yards, by Chris McPhee. Although they had plenty of possession in attack, the United rear guard were very solid especially man of the match Mkandawire, who made several vital interventions.
United will be very happy that they managed to bounce back from the defeat at Halifax in what was quite a difficult game. There is no doubt that, now injuries are starting to clear up for The Shots, that it will not be long before they push up the table. The 4-4-2 formation seemed to breath new life into Hereford's side and certain players looked more comfortable with that system.
The atmosphere, as always, was excellent as both sets of supporters in the crowd of 2,656 sang all they way through the game.
HUFC: Brown, Green, Mkandawire, Blewitt, Jeannin, Purdie, Stanley, Ferrell, Brady, Bailey, Carey-Bertram. Subs: James, Mawson, Pitman, Williams, Evans.
ATFC: Bull, Hamilton, Heald, Guyett, Reed, Nick Crittenden, Watson, Boucaud, Deen, Sills, McPhee. Subs: Weait, Scott, Holloway, Barnard, Sulaimani.