Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Williams fires United into top three

Hereford United moved into third place in the Nationwide Conference with a 3-0 home victory against Cambridge United this evening. The three points takes them into third place, but they are level on points with Exeter who occupy second. United's only change to the side that started against Grays was in attack, where Danny Carey-Bertram replaced the injured Guy Ipoua. Andy Williams played alongside Adam Stansfield though, and Carey-Bertram was on the right-wing.

The opening was a scrappy one, in which both sides enjoyed spells of possession without threatening a lot, although The U's almost took a stunning lead through ex-Bull Jon Brady. The Australian struck the cross bar with a delightful strike from twenty five yards that had beaten Wayne Brown in the Hereford goal. Courtney Pitt had the ball in the net for the visitors but was clearly offside when he headed in while, for Hereford, Carey-Bertram struck a cross from Nicky Nicolau wide at the far post.

It wasn't until thirty four minutes that United got a strike on goal, but it was well worth the wait for Stansfield's effort. He collected the ball some forty yards out, went on to take on three defenders before firing an unstoppable drive into the far top corner from the edge of the box for the opening goal. Stansfield again went close minutes later when he tackled the last man, Tommy Jaszczun, but chipped over. United furthered their lead before the break with another brilliant goal, this time from Stansfield's strike partner Williams. He collected a pass from Rob Purdie with his back to goal, span off his marker and hit a wonderful snap-shot that flew into the back of the net off the crossbar, with three minutes of the half remaining

Cambridge came out for the restart full of fight and ready to attempt a comeback, but any hopes of theirs were dashed by man of the match Williams just five minutes into the half. United cleared their lines following a cross into the box and fed Stansfield down the right where he had acres of space to run into before picking out the run of Williams towards the far post. Williams stormed in and finished perfectly with his first touch to put the result beyond any doubt. Rob Newman introduced Fola Onibuje in to his attack, hoping that his height would help The U's salvage something from the game.

The aerial threat was Cambridge's only real danger but Brown didn't have to stretch to make a save all game. Mark Peters headed straight at him as he met a corner unchallenged while at the other end Williams went close to completing his hattrick before the hour mark. He dispossessed a defender but shot over the bar from twenty yards out. Purdie also missed the target from a similar range following a cleared free kick before Onibuje headed Brady's cross straight at Brown. And with twenty minutes left, Graham Turner introduced his new signing to the home crowd of 2,142 (including 84 away fans). Stuart Fleetwood replaced the hard-working Stansfield in attack.

The Welsh Under 21 international was straight into the action and forced his way through the U's defence and cut back into the centre where Williams cleverly let the ball run for Nicolau, and the loanee hit the foot of the post from eight yards. The visitors came closest to netting when they broke quickly, picking out Pitt, who'd split off to the left, but his cross was flashed wide of the far post by the head of Onibuje. Fleetwood, who showed some nice touches as well as pace and strength, blazed over from the edge of the box as the game came to a close.

So it finished 3-0 to The Whites and moves them up the league table, right into the thick of the play-offs. Other than the first twenty minutes, Hereford generally dominated and were rarely threatened by Cambridge and there was some nice football on show, especially in the second half when gaps appeared in the visitors defence as they went in search of some sort of consilation. Purdie again looked happier in his centre midfield role and the team seemed to again have added balance, presumably due to the addition of a left winger in Nicolau who played well. Mayb it is no coincidence that since Purdie has moved into the middle, The Bulls have scored 5 goals in two games. Goalscoring has been the department that they have struggled in for most of the season.

HUFC: Brown, Travis, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Jeannin, Carey-Bertram, Purdie, Ferrell, Nicolau, Williams, Stansfield. Subs: Mawson, James, Green, Stanley, Fleetwood.

CUFC: Howie, Morrison, Duncan, Peters, Jaszczun, Brady, Smith, Gleeson, Bridges, Pitt, Westcarr. Subs: Davies, Porter, Robinson, Heeroo, Onibuje .

United 3-0 Cambridge

There is a home debut for Hereford's loan signing Nicky Nicolau, new striker Stuart Fleetwood is on the bench. Former Hereford winger Jon Brady starts for Cambridge.

First Half:

Jon Brady hit the bar early on in the first half for Cambridge. The away side did have the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. Hereford took the lead in the first half after a good run from Adam Stansfield resulted in a right footed shot by the striker and the keeper had no chance. Stansfield nearly made it two when he caught Jaszczun in possesion but he fired over. Andy Williams then made it two with a superb goal, he shot on the turn and the ball went in off the bar.

Half Time: Hereford United 2-0 Cambridge United

Second Half:

A superb counter attack from The Bulls saw Stansfield cross in and Andy Williams made it 3-0. Purdie's snapshot went just wide as United went in search of a fourth. Stuart Fleetwood came on to make his debut replacing Adam Stansfield. Williams nearly completed his hattrick but could only hit the post.

Full Time: Hereford United 3-0 Cambridge United

Attendance: 2142

HUFC: Brown, Travis, Jeannin, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Carey-Bertram, Nicolau, Ferrell, Purdie, Stansfield, Williams.

Subs: Mawson, Stanley, Fleetwood, James, Green

Cambridge: S Howie, M Morrison, A Duncan, M Peters, T Jaszczun, J Brady, S Smith, D Gleeson, D Bridges, C Pitt, C Westcarr.

Subs: T Robinson, F Onibuje, A Davies, M Porter, G Heeroo

A full report from Brian will be on later.

Elsewhere, play-off hopefuls Grays were beaten by Burton 3-2.

Newman may go with one upfront

Cambridge United manager, Rob Newman, may use just one forward upfront against Hereford United this evening. The idea is to give former Bulls player Jon Brady extra space on the wing.

"It's going to be a massive game and a tough game, but we showed by winning at Morecambe and by competing at Accrington that we can go to these places and if we're on song we can give them a game. Hopefully we'll be on song and we can win tonight, because that's what we're looking to do," Newman told the Offical Cambridge United Website.

"We beat them at the start of the season in our first home game and I thought that started our season off nicely, so if we can perform the same way again and get the same result that would be fantastic."

Newman spoke of the return to Edgar Street of former Bull Jon Brady.

"He did very well for them but he's in our camp now and fully committed to the cause

"I hope he doesn't go there to try too hard because that can backfire on you, but if Jon goes there tonight and plays like he has in the last three games for us then he'll have no complaints from anyone here."

Wright Sacked By Posh

Mark Wright has been sacked by Peterborough after Wright failed to attend a disciplinary meeting.

Wright was suspended apparently after dropping Irish midfielder Sean St Ledger following an argument between the player and coach Steve Bleasdale. Bleasdale is now the Caretaker Manager after a string of assistant jobs following Wright around various clubs.

The official club statement reads: 'It is with regret that the club announce the dismissal of Mr Mark Wright on the grounds of gross misconduct. A disciplinary hearing was held today when all matters were considered and the full evidence was investigated. Mr Wright failed to attend this hearing. The Board thereafter felt that there was no alternative but to take this course of action. The club feel badly let down particularly after giving Mark a chance to re-establish himself within the football community. With immediate effect, Mr Steve Bleasdale will take over all football related matters.'

Cambridge Report £581,000 Loss

In their annual accounts for the 2004/05 season, Cambridge United reported a loss of £581,000 on turnover of £2.27million - as reported on the official Cambridge website.

Total losses over the previous four seasons totalled £2.2million and that another loss, estimated at £248,000, was expected this season with a break-even attendance figure of 4,200. With the current average gate running at 2,677 the loss is expected to be significantly higher than estimated.

Finance Director Nick Pomery confirmed that there was enough cash available to complete the season but £250,000 needed to be found to complete the close season, but suggested that £200,000 was already expected - partly due to a £100,000 bonus from the sale of former player Dave Kitson to Reading when they achieve Premiership status.

One interesting piece to note - the website article suggests that Cambridge's playing budget is £150,000 lower than the Bulls: "Strengthening the Playing Budget from a bottom third budget, e.g. adding £150,000 would bring the playing budget into line with other clubs expecting to challenge, e.g. Aldershot, Hereford. Gates of around 4,000 would allow a real promotion challenge to be mounted, as would £100,000 extra sponsorship or commercial income."

Team News: Bulls vs Cambridge

Bulls fans will be waiting on the fitness of Guy Ipoua and Andy Ferrell ahead of tonight's clash. Ipoua has a calf injury that forced him out of Saturday's draw at Grays, and Ferrell has an ankle injury also picked up during that game. Jamie Pitman is definitely out, but Stacy Coldicott may feature on the bench for the first time in nearly five months.

Cambridge are without midfielder Richie Hanlon after a knee operation, and Darren Quinton, meaning an unchanged side is likely. Two Cambridge players picked up suspensions on Saturday, but neither suspension kicks in until after this match.

Turner Happy With Signings

Speaking to the Worcester Evening News Graham Turner was pleased with his two recent signings, Nicky Nicolau and Stuart Fleetwood.

"I've seen Stuart several times in the reserves. He was involved in an unfortunate accident after a reserve game against us. That since knocked his confidence a bit and from then he was not getting an opportunity at Cardiff. He wants to be playing first-team football and I believe he can be a real asset. He's very sharp, very quick and mobile. He's also scored a lot of goals in Cardiff's reserves. Obviously, Graham Evans has left for TNS, so we were looking for another striker."

"Nicky did OK at Grays. It's never easy making your debut, but the longer the game went on, the more Nicky came into it. He's got a good left foot and delivers good crosses."

Mills looks at Telford job

Former Hereford United striker, Lee Mills, is interested in the vacant manager's job at Telford according to the Shropshire Star.

The job became available after Bernard McNally was sacked recently. Mills played for Telford before coming to Hereford. He has been out of the game since finishing at Edgar Street at the end of last season.

"I never knew anything about it until I got a text message saying Bernard had just been sacked and asking if I was interested.

"I understand the message got back to Lee Carter, the Telford chairman, and I was told he might get in touch with me - but I haven't had a phone call yet."

The Telford directors meet later today to create a shortlist.

Deadline Day Transfers

York have released their fourth player in a month. Midfielder Leo Bertos has been released, and is likely to join Scarboro - where he will be the fourth signing this month.

Dagenham have signed Cliff Akurang on a permanent deal from Heybridge Swifts for an undisclosed four figure fee. The striker scored once in three games in an earlier loan spell, but injury limited his appearances.

Kidderminster have made a double signing, adding a second Watford junior to their ranks in defender Junior Osborne on loan for the rest of the season, and taking Notts County's 6ft 4in striker Andy White on loan for a month. White had a previous loan spell at Aggborough in 2003/04. Harriers have also released midfielder Simon Heslop. The former Barnsley trainee was virtually ever-present until current manager Mark Yates took over. He becomes the eighth departure of the window with only two permanent signings coming in, and three on loan.

Grays have allowed Stevland Angus to join Barnet on loan for the rest of the season. The former Cambridge central defender has only been a bit part in the Grays side this season.

Accrington have sold teenage defender Anthony Barry to Yeovil for an undisclosed sum. The former Coventry trainee was virtually ever present in the Accrington side this season.

Scarboro have signed Richard Kell on loan from Barnsley to replace Neil Bishop, after he joined York for an undisclosed fee.

Halifax have signed former Accrington keeper Jon Kennedy from Witton Albion until the end of the season. Adam Legzdins had been recalled by Birmingham City, leaving coach Lee Butler as the only senior goalkeeper at the club.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Return of Brady

Cambridge United are the visitors to Edgar Street this evening with former Bull Jon Brady expected to start. Currently 14th in the Conference table, they have only won once on their travels this season.

Graham Turner, the Hereford United manager, has noted their position.

"They've had a difficult time financially. They've taken Jon Brady from us so they can't be too hard up.

"Finding life in the Conference a little bit difficult as we've all done when we come down. It's never been easy coming into the Conference."

Hereford could move a couple of places up the table with a win this evening.

The only other game in the Conference is between Grays Athletic and Burton Albion. Grays will go second if they win.

Accrington Extend Lead To 11 Points

Accrington now stand 11 points clear at the top of the Conference after Exeter failed to crack the live TV jinx.

Accrington swept past second placed Exeter 3-1, with a double from Gary Roberts sandwiching a Romuald Boco goal. Jake Edwards got a consolation goal for Exeter.

Despite Exeter's fears of a depleted crowd, the gate of 4,624 was their fourth highest of the season and their largest since Boxing Day.

The Bulls could go third if they can win Tuesday's match, but could go second if they beat Cambridge by four or more goals.

Harriers Sign Ex-Bull

Kidderminster Harriers have signed Jake Sedgemore on a free transfer from Bury.

Utility man Sedgemore played twice for the Bulls after arriving a few weeks after the 2001/02 season started, but swiftly moved to Northwich. He has recently been on loan at Burton, playing 14 games including both Man Utd ties, but has signed an 18 month contract at Aggborough.

Meanwhile, Aldershot have bagged Jonny Dixon on loan for a second time. The Wycombe striker scored nine in twelve games, including a hat-trick in his final match, during a three month spell that ended 12 months ago. Shots boss Terry Brown has had several cash offers rejected for the striker, but he has been little more than a bench warmer at Wycombe.

Shrewd Signing by Turner

The transfer of Stuart Fleetwood from Cardiff City to Hereford United looks a shrewd signing by Graham Turner.

Fleetwood's recent problems are well-documented on this website. Although of a different nature, the player finds himself in a somewhat similar position to Michael McIndoe when he joined Hereford after his troubles at Luton.

McIndoe is now with Doncaster and a move to a higher club is rumoured to be in the offering. He is said to be valued at £500,000.

Turner turned McIndoe's career around and no doubt he can do the same with Fleetwood. The player obviously has potential and ability, but is said to have lost his confidence.

With Guy Ipoua likely to miss a couple of games after receiving a calf injury last Saturday at Grays, Fleetwood may get a chance to take some part in a game sooner as opposed to later.

Meanwhile there is some speculation that Turner may announce one other new player before the transfer window ends tomorrow. With Pitman out for a couple of weeks and Coldicott still not in the squad, there is room for a useful mid-fielder.

"We are in a position to increase our squad and, with all the games ahead of us, we are anxious to bring in new players," said Turner recently.

With three leaving, of which one was on-loan, and three joining so far, of which two are on-loan, there should be enough money left in the kitty for another addition.

Fleetwood Signing Confirmed

Cardiff City have confirmed that Stuart Fleetwood has joined the Bulls on a free transfer.

He has signed until the end of the season. Fleetwood, 19, is a Welsh u-21 international and a regular scorer for Cardiff's reserve side.

Kidderminster Exodus Continues

Kidderminster have released two more players today - bringing the total number of players lost to seven in 10 days.

Jermain Hollis and Chris McHale, both products of the youth setup at Aggborough, were both released today with manager Mark Yates deciding neither player was in his plans.

Just two players have been brought in by comparison, one on loan and the other on a month long contract. Harriers Chairman Barry Norgrove admitted in October that the club were losing £5,000 a week on their poor gates this season and gates have not improved since then, with just two of 14 home league matches reaching the break-even figure.

Harriers have, so far, resisted approaches for two more of their players. Iyseden Christie and Mark Jackson have both been subject of bids by league clubs, but Harriers are hoping the pair stay after seeing a string of experienced players depart since their relegation.

Good support at last two games

Hereford United will be pleased with the support of fans at the last two away games.

The figures are:

Macclesfield - 302
Grays Athletic - 369.

Meanwhile Cambridge United who are the visitors to Edgar Street tomorrow are not expected to bring more than 100 supporters. The Bulls took 261 to Cambridge last August, a number which would have been higher had it not been for Motorway problems which caused some fans to abandon their journeys.

Conference News Round-Up

Southport have signed experienced midfielder Gary Brabin until the end of the season. Brabin, 35, had a brief spell at Halifax earlier in the season. Accrington have rejected a double swoop by Chester for Ian Craney and Gary Roberts. Crawley have signed Lincoln forward Omari Coleman on a free transfer. Coleman played for both Gravesend and Aldershot on loan this season, scoring twice in 11 games for the two clubs. Scarboro have lost striker Brian Wake to Scottish side Hamilton. Wake scored five in 13 appearances but found his recent chances limited and the Gretna forward chose to move to Hamilton, who lost out on Bulls signing Stuart Fleetwood, for the remainder of the season.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Day out to Grays

Another Saturday without a Baggies game to watch allowed Glynis and Simon Wright a chance to sample the delights of watching Hereford United at Gray's. Below is Glynis' account of the day:

The next time you fly to Southern Europe or the Middle East from Brum, after you've been in the air for around 20-30 minutes, have a quick butchers out of your plane window. Provided overworked air traffic controllers haven't mucked about with your flight-path too much, you'll in all likelihood see unfolding below you the meandering watery scrawl that is the mouth of the Thames, plus rapidly-expanding housing developments innumerable around that area. And our FA Cup 4th Round blank Saturday destination, Grays, just a loud toot on a ships's siren away from nearby Tilbury Docks. Returning to terra firma once more, metaphorically speaking, should you happen to visit the place on a crisp clear and sunny winter's day, as we did, you'll get rapid confirmation via the enormous number of planes passing overhead, their vapour trails constantly cutting a pearly linear swathe across the unsullied cobalt sky.

As you might have guessed, plane spotting was the last thing on our minds. No, the reason we'd decided to make the journey was because for 'Im Indoors, their ground was one of the few at Conference level he hadn't sampled thus far; in fact, upon hearing of our footballing intentions, The Meanest Man In West Bromwich, an incurable ground-hopper himself, asked if he could tag along as well, with young David, his equally-parsimonious little shaver (chronological age eleven, but psychological age going on fifty) keeping him company as well. 'No problem!' we both chorused in almost perfect synchrony, so that was that, then. Look, if you're an Albion supporter these days, any diversion us welcome!

As for the outward journey itself, I remember little, purely and simply because I fell asleep in close proximity to Coventry, only wakening on the fag-end of the boring trip around the Dartford Bridge/Tunnel bit of the M25. Still, it was a lovely day for watching football; as I said earlier, the weather, although crisply cold, was superb, and thanks to an unusually clear orbital motorway system, it wasn't all that long before we were venturing into the town of Grays itself, the ground being just a hop, skip and a jump away from the town centre proper.

As you might have guessed, parking was no bother whatsoever; a handy socket just behind a Catholic church around five minutes walk away from the ground itself proving favourite. Now tell me again - who was it said 'The Lord Will Provide'? Too bloody right, my son. We left Stingy Father and Apprentice Statto to walk into the town proper - they ended up on the railway station watching the trains pull in and out, apparently. Instead, we made a beeline instead for the Conference side's social club, interjected by a brief (very brief because he was working after all), exchange of pleasantries with the ever-affable Tucka Trewick.

It's a prominent feature of non-league life that grass-roots supporters invariably provide a substantial source of income for clubs at that level, and that's generally done through the provision of social club facilities that wouldn't disgrace more well-known organisations e.g. The Royal British Legion. Certainly, a hell of a lot of dough had gone into Grays Athletics' facilities; on entering their jam-packed 'Blues bar', the first thing that grabbed my attention was the plethora of 'big screens' currently pumping out Cheltenham-Newcastle for the delectation of both sets of supporters. Note the word 'plethora'; not just one, but an astonishing EIGHT, including three slightly smaller brethren situated high above the bar counter, so you could grab your pints(s) and not miss a single bit of the action. More unusually for a football club, they had on offer an astonishing selection of real ales, the only real let-down being the plastic glasses the stuff was served in.

Once we'd sorted out hydration and gastronomic needs, the next challenge was to find somewhere to sit. I'd thought we'd had it, but like an unexpected parting of the Red Sea at the approach of Moses and his weary flock, just minutes later, the party sitting at a table adjacent to our temporary resting-place decided to up sticks and walk, leaving us with a clear run. I'll say one thing, though; you sure as hell could tell you were on the fringes of London, just a bit of casual lughole-waggling gave us the strong feeling we'd walked onto the set of East Enders by mistake. Gor blimey and stone the crows, know what I mean, Guvnor, bless yer apples and pears and 'ows yer farver'? Vastly more Cockney than most present-day East End incumbents, they'd fetched up in sunny Essex as a result of the huge post-war demolition and resettlement programme undertaken from the conclusion of the war, right up to the late sixties and early seventies. Mostly rabid West Ham followers, more likely than not, so Grays has to be a suitable haven for the Cockney eccentric, I reckon.

The away end turnstiles were but a swift amble from that watering-hole and around a corner; at first, we'd wondered as to whether we'd make the kick-off or not, as some braindead or other - I reckon he'd been indulging in something much stronger than mere alcohol, chemically speaking - decided to argue the toss with both turnstile staff and stewards, resulting in the summoning of the Law. The queue started to move at that point, so I don't know how the situation was finally resolved. Not that I cared, mind.

The first thing that hits you about the Conference newcomers' ground is its size. Lack of, I mean. Think of a cross between Gillingham and Southend, but much, much smaller, and you've come close. Occupying half the end behind one goal was a steep-sloped uncovered bit of home terracing; the other half, believe it or not, housed Grays' boardroom. In a Portakabin, immediately behind a thin strip of away end. God knows what kind of image that presented to media people and opposing directors, but there you are. A seated 'away' stand ran the length of one side of the pitch - that was where we finally fetched up - with a huge gymnasium taking most of the space behind the opposite goal, leaving but a thin strip of terrace for the use of home supporters.

It was when you looked across the pitch towards the opposite touchline it started to get really surreal; occupying its entire length were several modern 'yuppie' flats, complete with individual balcony. An unofficial 'executive box area' so it would seem; privately owned, yet once kick-off had come and gone, most of those balconies suddenly sprouted not Romeo seeking his Juliet, but sundry groups of blokes (and ladies) wanting to take advantage of a delightfully-novel USP, and most certainly not one even the best TV house purchase 'reality shows' could envisage, even during the wettest of dreams. Oh - and part of the ground floor housed both lots of dressing-rooms! Add to that side-streets complete with terraced housing that almost encroached inside the ground, and what you ended up with was one mighty unusual Conference club! Capacity somewhere in the region of 4,000, so 'Im Indoors told me, but where the hell Grays would put the extra bodies attending such a game was completely beyond me. Even with a 1,500 gate - well, that's what we heard(ish) on their awful PA system: actually, that's all we could hear on their PA all afternoon - the place seemed well-full, an illusion heightened considerably by the presence of some 3-400 itinerant but noisy Bulls supporters.

As for the game itself, I can quite honestly say, hand on heart, that it's been a very long time indeed since I'd last witnessed such a nail-biting 45 minutes. I say '45 minutes' because it was only in the second half that Hereford really started to pull their collective fingers out. As for the preceding 45, The Bulls quickly found themselves an unexpected two goals in arrears. Not entirely their fault, mind; that Grays opener of theirs looked at least a yard offside (we were sitting more or less in line with the play), a shocking injustice that prompted several furious away supporters to hurl various foodstuff items onto the pitch, a gastronomic indignity that immediately brought forth a chorus of "What's it like to throw a burger!" from the 'home' lot standing atop their nearby lofty terraced perch. As for Grays second, I'm not at all sure what went wrong that time. From where I was sitting, Hereford keeper Brown looked for all the world as though he'd got the blasted shot covered - but he hadn't. Into the net it plopped, sadly, closely followed by a murmured chorus of 'game over?.' from all those seated around me.

The fundamental problem for the visitors was this: because of its eccentric ground layout, Grays was one of those places where players constantly find themselves 'up close and personal' with both sets of followers, oppressive certainly, intimidating, quite possibly. Not only that, the home side were in the habit of employing tactics that wouldn't have gone amiss in a Tilbury dockers' bar around chucking-out time. 'In yer face' they most certainly were; chuck in some pretty lax refereeing decisions as well, plus a Grays defence marshalled with all the disciplined precision of a Grenadier Guards RSM, and the visitors just couldn't hack it. Add to that also a little bit of an injury crisis, and it quickly became as clear as day why the Bulls couldn't perform during that disappointing first period.

Not being privy to that innermost half-time sanctum of footballers everywhere, the dressing-room, I've absolutely no idea what was said by Graham Turner and Tucka Trewick to his despondent charges come the interval, but it sure as hell transformed the game. Attacking the end where most of their away support was congregated this time, and presumably greatly benefiting psychologically from the 'wall of sound' they provided without let-up, Hereford managed to get one back midway through the half, courtesy a lovely Tam Mkandawire bullet-header that gave their keeper no chance whatsoever - and with that strike, getting at least a share of the spoils no longer seemed an impossible dream for their away support. Suddenly, it was Grays turn to panic as wave after white wave crashed upon the rocky shore of their penalty area; no surprise, then, when Hereford finally restored parity deep into the half. Again, a header from a corner proved to be the home side's undoing, and with that strike there came what I can only describe as a 'silence of the fans'. Well, as far as the Grays contingent was concerned, that was.

From the restart, Hereford constantly threatened to go one better, but that proved to be an 'ask' too far, sad to say. Come the final whistle, the score stood at a quite remarkable 2-2, and one the visitors thoroughly deserved, may I say. The last time I'd ever seen a comeback like that was when Albion played Exeter City in the days when Ossie Ardiles was our gaffer, and the Baggies stuck in that awful Bermuda triangle commonly known as the Third Division. With just 20 minutes to go to the end, Albion were trailing by two goals to nil, and dead, dead, dead. Then, we somehow pulled one back, then another, and Exeter suddenly found themselves reeling and rocking. The way our lot were attacking mob-handed, something had to give - and it finally did with around 6 minutes left on the clock. 3-2 to us was the final score, and so elated were our following afterwards, a goodly proportion of the grateful headed straight from the ground and into the welcoming bosom of a nearby pub! A shame about the wooden bench accidentally broken by an over-exuberant Baggie, though!

And, while we're on the subject of enthusiastic followings, there was certainly a wealth of humour to be mined and subsequently savoured in that away end yesterday, and it wasn't just Hereford's itinerant footsoldiers so appreciative of such sparkling (and totally spontaneous) wit and repartee. We had it on good authority, via a mutual friend, that former Hereford loanee Danny Blewitt had promised faithfully to turn up in the Grays away end yesterday 'because he loved the craic so much when he did his time with The Bulls'. No way of confirming or denying his presence, unfortunately, but as our mutual chum is not one normally given to unsolicited flights of fancy, we?re both inclined to believe it actually did happen.

And it wasn't all that long after kick-off we first began to realise why the West Ham lad had set so much store on renewing old acquaintances with the Edgar Street glee-club. All the usual insults hurled - but with a quite unexpected twist in some cases. Example? Their raucous chorus of "Shit ground, no stand" encapsulated Grays 'Liebensraum' problems beautifully, and their enthusiastic chorusing of 'The Addams Family' theme song - becoming quite a tradition at Bulls away games these days - was wonderfully-hilarious. The away support even found time to school their Essex counterparts in the fundamentals of British geography, as per some genius's heartfelt response to the inevitable outbreak of "Inger-land, Inger-land, Inger-land?." emanating fortissimo from the home end at one stage in the proceedings.

Geographical embarrassment writ large, of course; contrary to popular Conference perception, Hereford's ground is actually situated a good twelve miles from the Welsh border, but the home lot weren't about to let the truth get in the way of a rattling good chant, were they? No surprise, either, when one nearby Bull, clearly hacked off by this serial vile calumny at his side's expense, completely lost it. "Can't you read a bloody map?" was his loud but tetchy comment upon the home end's seemingly-nebulous grasp of political geography.

And it wasn?t just in a crowd situation, either. Sitting next to 'Im Indoors was a bloke whose permanent state of undiluted misery could make even the celebrated Victor Meldrew turn in his grave quicker than the proverbial cordless power-drill doing mortal battle with crumbling brickwork. A Herefordian by birth, his starring role in Saturday's triumph was to mutter darkly in the background each and every time the visitors lost possession, which, in the first half was quite a lot! "Don't this team know how to properly pass the ball?" was Granddad's plaintive lament, time and time again. That sort of attitude was all very well, but after a while - an hour, say ? it all started getting too boring for words, and most within earshot quietly wanting their side to score, if only to shut the silly old sod up for good!

What with that white tidal wave surging forth on the pitch, and the vocal tidal wave off it during the course of that second 45, no-one present was at all surprised to see the visitors gain parity in the manner previously described. And even the circumstances surrounding our eventual exit from the ground raised a few eyebrows, not to mention quite a few memories of times when police and supporters didn't exactly enjoy the most cordial of arrangements; when, pray, was the last time you saw football supporters kept in a ground post-final whistle in order to allow their home counterparts ample time to get away? Well, it certainly happened at Grays yesterday, much to my astonishment, not least because I strongly suspect this particular crowd-control tactic to be completely illegal. 'False imprisonment' is the legal term for such shenanigans; people have been known to challenge this practice in the past; some have actually succeeded.

So there you go; 2-0 down, a bigger comeback than those of Frank Sinatra, some thirty or forty years ago, two second half goals, and a juicy ripe point to take back to Zoider Country, too. Wonderful stuff, and me not even a Bulls follower!

Preview: Bulls vs Cambridge United

The Bulls entertain Cambridge for the first time in 10 years, when the sides met three times at Edgar Street during 1996.

The best remembered of those fixtures was in January 1996, when Steve White bagged four goals in the Bulls 5-2 win. A 3-0 win followed in August, but the roles were reversed in October when the U's gained a 1-0 win. The Bulls have the upper hand in encounters at Edgar Street, but Cambridge are 11-9 ahead overall in professional competition.

The Bulls fightback against Grays on Saturday showed the spirit of the side was there, bouyed by an encouraging debut by new signing Nicky Nicolau, to extend their unbeaten Conference run to seven matches. Guy Ipoua's withdrawal after less than half an hour is likely to be a cause of concern, but with a new striker seemingly imminent and two perfectly capable strikers finishing the game on Saturday, manager Graham Turner should not be short of options.

Cambridge are likely to feature ex-Bull Jon Brady, who ended a disappointing six month stay at Edgar Street by moving on a free transfer. Brady has played all three games since the move, but has failed to inspire a win out of his new teammates with Cambridge having gained only two draws in the last four matches. Their away form is very poor with a solitary win, at Morecambe, and just eight goals on their travels.

Hereford United vs Cambridge United, Edgar Street, Tuesday 31st January, 7.45pm.

Cambridge look for striker

Cambridge United are hoping to sign a striker before Tuesday's evening game at Hereford United.

Manager Rob Newman was disappointed his side could only draw with Gravesend yesterday.

"Anyone who's seen me this week will know I've done many miles watching games and many minutes on the phone speaking to clubs and players about coming here. We've still got three days left and I'm still hopeful that we're going to get a striker in before Tuesday's game because too many games like this have gone by," he told the Official Cambridge United website.

His quotes from the NLP back his need for extra fire-power.

"I could go on again about the strikers missing goals.

"Teams at the top would have taken those chances."

Bulls lead charge for Fleetwood

This article was written by Chris O'Brien and is reproduced here with his permission.

Transfer-listed Stuart Fleetwood could be set for a move to Conference outfit Hereford United. The Bulls are in talks with the 19-year-old forward, but Hamilton Academicals and Merthyr Tydfil have also shown great interest in the teenager.

Hereford United are in talks with out-of-favour Cardiff City forward Stuart Fleetwood about a move to Edgar Street.

19-year-old Fleetwood hit the headlines last week after it was revealed he was arrested for drink-driving only hours after being told his hometown club were placing him on the transfer list. The Bulls are keen to add some firepower to their forward line as they seek promotion back into the Football League.

Fleetwood, who was linked with a move to high-flying Reading over the summer, is also said to be attracting interest from SFL outfit Hamilton Academicals and local rivals Merthyr Tydfil of the Southern Premier. The Welsh Under-21 international is said to not favour a move to Scotland, but would be keen to seek first-team football with an ambitious Hereford side.

Scouts from Hamilton and Hereford are said to have been impressed with Fleetwood as the City reserves stuttered to a 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth during the week. Go-getting Welsh League Division Two side Pontypridd recently failed in a loan bid to sign the forward to aid their promotion charge, but the player and club both now have permanent moves as a priority.

The teenager has showed so much potential in recent years at Ninian Park, and was generally regarded as a player with the calibre to play at the highest level. However, his progression has flagged and the club have decided that it would be better for all parties if he moved on after 7 years with the Bluebirds.

Fleetwood is still contracted with CCFC, and therefore any move away from Sloper Road would have to come before the transfer window closes next Tuesday night at midnight.

Chris has updated Bulls News this morning with his latest view:

Would be a good signing. He showed amazing potential as a youngster and has done well to rise through the ranks of the Ninian Park youth team system. However, in recent seasons, he has struggled to challenge for first-team football and looks unlikely to play Championship football in the near future. Premiership clubs are thought to have watched him closely in the past, whilst Reading considered making an offer during our 'sale time' over the summer pre-season.

However, things have gone quite wrong. Fleetwood was involved in a car crash on the way back from a reserve-team game and team-mate and driver, Nicky Fish was left in a coma which saw him spend weeks in intensive care. The teenager's progression had been slipping and this was a severe knock to his confidence. The player was recently transfer-listed and, despite his usual 'good behaviour', was caught drink driving only miles from the ground. Sad stuff, but he does have the ability and just needs to win back some confidence.

I understand, and most sources suggest, that Fleetwood would prefer a move to Edgar Street. Hamilton Academicals are also showing a great deal of interest, whilst I think Merthyr Tydfil could offer him a contract.

Chris O'Brien runs the Cardiff City Sleeping Giant

Too negative in first half says Turner

Graham Turner spoke to the Non-League Paper after yesterday's game at Grays.

"We didn't turn up in the first half. We maybe gave them a little too much respect.

"Maybe we were a bit too negative in the first 45 minutes and we paid the penalty for that.

"We never played with any freedom or purpose but in the second half the shackles came off and we enjoyed it.

"We got the bit between our teeth, played some decent stuff. We knew we had to take some chances and they had a couple of decent chances but I thought our second-half performance merited something.

"All in all it's a good afternoon for us because it could have been a disaster for us."

The Grays manager, Mark Stimson, was disappointed to lose a two goal lead.

"At half time it looked good, but we knew Hereford were going to come back.

"They've got so much experience at this level and we haven't and it showed.

"With a little bit more luck, Gary Hooper, who was outstanding today, might have got the third when he was clear through and that would have been game over.

"But credit to Hereford, they put us under a lot of pressure and got the first goal through a fantastic delivery then managed to get the second."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tamika pleased with goal

Tamika Mkandawire, speaking on BBC Hereford and Worcester after the game at Grays, said how pleased he was to be on the scoresheet.

"It's nice to chip in with the odd goal, but being 2-0 down and both me and Dean getting goals, really pleased with it," said the Hereford United defender and today's captain.

"Who ever would have scored the goal would have lifted the whole team.

"First half they did well to get two goals. We simply weren't good enough.

"Second half we really worked hard as a unit. Tried to limit their chances and really worked hard on getting back into the game.

"Great ball in from Alex (for the second goal). We debated whether it was an own goal or Deano's."

Three Hereford players were booked during the game - Jeannin, Beckwith and Mkandawire. And Guy Ipoua hobbled off during the first half.

Had the referee had a better view Gray's Aaron McLean would have been booked for inciting the Hereford United supporters with a Bull like gesture after he scored. In any case his goal probably shouldn't have been allowed as he looked to be offside.

Many of the 350 Hereford supporters (later said to be 369 according to Grays) were disappointed at the lack of room allowed for them this afternoon. They were cramped into a tiny part of the main stand, whilst the Grays supporters had both ends of the ground.

Fleetwood interest confirmed by Trewick

Hereford United's coach, John Trewick, is reported to have confirmed the Bulls interest in Stuart Fleetwood (see story below).

Trewick spoke with supporters at the Grays' game this afternoon. It is understood he said that Fleetwood is joining the Bulls on Monday.

Meanwhile Morecambe supporters appear to have taken over the Mexican theme adopted by a group of Hereford United fans two seasons ago.

They were seen on their way back from Crawley with their sombreros and ponchos. Their mini-bus even had a realistic 'Saloon' sign.

Morecambe are one place above Hereford in the Conference table.

Purdie inspires Bulls comeback

Hereford United's second half performance earnt them a deserved 2-2 draw at Grays Athletic this afternoon, having been two down at the interval. The sides, both hoping for at least a place in the play-offs by the end of the season, had met at Edgar Street earlier in the season when Grays were 2-0 victors and will meet again at Edgar Street in a weeks time in the F.A. Trophy.

Graham Turner started with new loan signing Nicky Nicolau on the left wing and with Rob Purdie in the centre of the midfield alongside Andy Ferrell. Craig Stanley was dropped to the bench and Jamie Pitman missed out through injury. Adam Stansfield recovered from a knock that kept him out of the LDV game in midweek and so Danny Carey-Bertram made way and Wayne Brown regained his spot in goal at the expense of Craig Mawson. Stacy Caldicott warmed up with the team but did not make the team sheet.

An entertaining opening to the half provided very little in goalscoring opportunities for either side, as both went looking for an early lead. Aaron McLean, infamous with Hereford supporters, forced Brown into his first save of the afternoon when he shot on the turn following a corner before Simon Travis had to be alert to get a block on Gary Hooper's shot, as he controlled well in the box. Alex Jeannin almost handed a goal to The Blues as he conceded possession to John Martin, but the strikers shot was saved. Moments previously, Guy Ipoua had been felled and with just 25 minutes gone was replaced by Carey-Bertram.

Three minutes later, The Bulls found themselves behind but will not be happy with the linesman, as there was a big question of offside in the build up. Michael Kightly spread the ball to the right flank where Hooper, who looked to be at least a yard ahead of the defence, cut the ball back from the by-line for McLean who netted, despite the attempt of Travis on the line. McLean then went over to the travelling army of around 350 (in a crowd of 1,528) and threw himself on the ground in celebration.

United responded well and created their first attempts on goal but could not get the equaliser. Nicolau found Stansfield who played the ball back into the box to his strike-partner Carey-Bertram who turned well before firing beyond Ashley Bayes in the Grays goal, but McLean was on the line to clear. The ball fell back to Carey-Bertram but he shot poorly straight at the grateful Bayes. To make matters worse, the hosts doubled their advantage minutes later. Again, United may feel a bit agreived at the manner of the goal as Dean Beckwith was harsley adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box and was carded as a result. A rehearsed free kick was put into practice and Stuart Thurgood, instrumental throughout, placed delicately into the bottom corner. The ball didn't carry much pace by Brown, who appeared to go for the ball and then stop, couldn't reach it as it crept into the corner of the net. So United, for the second game in a row, were two down at the break.

The Bulls came out for the second half with renewed belief and pegged Grays back from the start, although again they didn't create much in the way of goalscoring opportunities. Purdie was brimming with effort and was very effective in the centre midfield role. He was obviously far happier there than on the left wing where he's found himself for the most part of the season. Ferrell had blazed over as United continued to pressure in a rare effort at goal and Stansfield headed harmlessley onto the roof of the net before Travis almost put the game on a plate for the hosts. His header, intended for Brown, was played directly in the path of Hooper, but the youngster blasted over when one on one.

And four minutes later, United made Hooper pay for his miss. Following a corner, Beckwith received the ball in the midfield area and toed a pass down the left to Jeannin. He delivered an inch perfect cross into the area, where Mkandawire, still up from the corner, came out of nowhere and smashed a stunning header into the top corner of the net.

Grays went close to re-instating their two goal lead a minute after but Brown denied Martin and with nine minutes remaining The Bulls levelled things up. Jeannin was again the provider, this time from a corner on the right, and it was Beckwith who met it with another good header that flew beyond the reach of Bayes. Purdie almost set up Andy Williams for a winner, when Williams turned his man in the box but saw his quick-fire effort saved by Bayes while a goalmouth scramble in injury time almost handed the match to the hosts, but Brown held onto the ball well.

All in all, it was a good result for Hereford having been 2-0 down at half time. A draw would probably have been deemed a good result at the start of the day and so it was quite pleasing in the end. The second half performance was again delightful from United, but the first half showing may not have been as pleasing. The severe lack of chances is something that must be looked at. However, if United can put in two "second half" performances against Cambridge on Tuesday, then they have a chance of moving into second place in the league.

HUFC: Brown, Travis, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Jeannin, Nicolau, Purdie, Ferrell, Williams, Stansfield, Ipoua. Subs: James, Mawson, Green, Stanley, Carey-Bertram.

GAFC: Bayes, Sambrook, Edwards, Hanson, Johnson, Kightly, Hooper, Thurgood, Martin, Battersby, McLean. Subs: Eyre, Nutter, Mawer, Slabber, Oli.

Turner Chases Cardiff Striker

Graham Turner is chasing Cardiff striker Stuart Fleetwood.

Gloucester-born Fleetwood, 19, is a Welsh Under-21 international and has been a regular scorer in the reserves but has found first team chances limited, starting just two games for the club he has been with since he was 12.

He was one of the players involved in a car accident coming back from a friendly reserve match at Edgar Street in October. He was being chased by Cheltenham for a loan move shortly before the accident. Nicky Fish, who was critically injured in that crash, is now back in training with Cardiff after two months in hospital.

Turner faces competition from Scottish side Hamilton and Merthyr Tydfil for his services, and both were in attendance as Fleetwood set up the only goal for the reserves last Tuesday.


John Trewick, the Hereford United coach, was said to have told Bulls supporters at Grays Athletic than Fleetwood is joining the Bulls on Monday.

Conference Results Round Up

With Accrington and Exeter playing on Monday, several of the play-off chasers had a chance to make some ground up on the front pair.

Halifax move into third after a 1-0 home win over Forest Green. Morecambe (5th) moved back above the Bulls with a 3-1 win over Crawley, but Stevenage (7th) suffered a shock defeat for the second week running - losing 2-0 at Tamworth, and York (8th) lost to Woking (9th) 2-0.

Bottom side Southport lost 4-1 at home to Kidderminster and, with Tamworth winning, are now six points adrift of safety. Burton won 2-0 at Canvey, and Cambridge and Gravesend drew 1-1. Dagenham won at Scarboro 1-0.

Result of the day goes to Altrincham. Their 5-1 win over Aldershot was a stark turnaround from last weeks 5-0 loss to Forest Green.

The results leave the Bulls in sixth place, three points off second place with at least a game in hand on all but one of those above us.

Bulls Fightback Earns Point

The Bulls staged a second half comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Grays Athletic.

Defensive partnership Tamika Mkandawire and Dean Beckwith powered home headers to level goals from Aaron McLean and Stuart Thurgood.

Full Report Later.

Stevenage Capture Oliver From Yeovil

Stevenage have signed central defender Luke Oliver from Yeovil for £15,000.

Oliver, 20, joined Yeovil from Woking in the summer but failed to break into the side, rejoining Woking on loan for three months earlier in the season.

Oliver is the fourth signing to join Stevenage in the transfer window, with two departures.

Cambridge United Agree Ground Purchase

Just days after Cambridge City announced the sale of their ground, Cambridge United have announced that they have agreed to repurchase theirs.

Bideawhile, owned by director John Howard, bought the ground in a refinancing deal in late 2004 but have now agreed in principle to sell the ground back to the club. Details on cost are unlikely to be disclosed until the sale is completed.

Conference Hotshots Depart

Dagenham's Tresor Kandol and Aldershot's Tim Sills have both departed to Football League clubs.

Kandol, whose protracted move to Darlington fell apart three weeks ago, has joined Barnet for £50,000.

Sills has made a switch to Oxford United for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £30,000.

In other Conference news, York defender Graham Law has been released by mutual consent after not making a senior appearance this season. Kidderminster have suspended long serving physio Jimmy Conway for undisclosed reasons. Three players, and coach Martin O'Connor have already left the club this week. Gravesend have signed Woking misfit striker Mark Rawle on a free transfer. Rawle failed to live up to his reputation at Kingfield, and angered manager Glenn Cockerill in a radio interview.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nicolau can find the net

With new loan signing from Swindon, Nicky Nicolau, expected to play a part in this aftenoon's game at Grays Athletic, below is a report featuring Nicolau. Although he isn't regarded as a goal scorer, he recently scored a peach for Swindon against Bournemouth in a reserve match.

This edited article first appeared on This is Swindon Town on January 11th:

Nicky Nicolau blasted home a peach against the Cherries and immediately pointed to Andy Nicholas as proof that light does shine at the end of the tunnel.

The youngster's 20-yard strike ensured a share of the spoils in the reserves' 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at the County Ground.

Brett Pitman bundled home a late leveller to deny Nicolau the title of match-winner but the ex-Southend United man was still smiling at the end.

Injuries, the emergence of David Stroud and the imminent arrival of Aaron Brown have placed obstacles in Nicolau's path to first-team football but he isn't disheartened.

He enjoyed 90 minutes at left-back against Bournemouth and then highlighted the present occupant of that slot at first-team level as an example of how your fortunes can change.

Nicolau said: "Hopefully getting a game and a goal pushes me forward a bit.

"The boys are obviously doing well but if I get my chance then hopefully I'll take it.

"It's hard not being involved on a Saturday but there's still 20 or so games left and I want to get in there and make an impact.

"When I first came to the club I remember having a chat with Andy Nicholas.

"He was frustrated at not playing but he's got his chance and he's taken it well to be fair to him.

"They say football's a funny game. One week you're not involved and the next you can be man of the match."

Assistant boss Alan Reeves said: "That's Nicky?s first game for a while, he got a good workout from it, scored a good goal but it will take a couple of games to get back into the swing of things."

Nicolau had helped Town off to a good start when he picked up the ball just outside the Bournemouth area, looked up and rifled a strike beyond the left arm of visiting keeper James Rae into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Lukas Jutkiewicz rifled a shot into the side-netting on 42 minutes while Nicolau's inswinging corner from the right was headed off the line.

As well as a hernia Nicolau recently had a knee injury.

Accrington could slip up says Turner

Graham Turner admits he hasn't seen much of Accrington but thinks they could slip up shortly.

"I've not seen an awful lot of Accrington. When we went up there I thought we played well and were unfortunate to lose the game 2-1," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"I didn't think they were as good as their lead in the table would suggest.

"There might be a time over the next month or so when they start to come unstuck. It usually happens, somebody has a sticky spell during the course of the season.

"It could happen to Accrington fairly shortly.

"If that is the case we've got to keep plugging away and hope to be up there."

Turner also admitted Hereford United had been disappointed with the first half of the season but revealed the stats were good.

"Yes the statistics tell us that we have, compared with the same date last season, got two more points now having played two fewer games. And that's after a disappointing first half to the season.

"So it's not too bad after all!"

Three to miss game tomorrow

Jamie Pitman, Daryl Taylor and Stacy Coldicott will miss tomorrow's game at Grays.

Pitman will see a knee specialist on Monday after suffering potential cartilage damage at Macclesfield. He could be out for several weeks.

However there is better news about Adam Stansfield. He missed out on Tuesday but his hip injury is said to have improved sufficiently to be included in the squad tomorrow.

Once again Turner faces a difficult decision over whether to play captain Tony James, now fully recovered from injury. He may be favoured over Dean Beckwith to partner Tamika Mkandawire.

Wayne Brown is expected to return in goal.

It is unlikely that Turner will play a 4-5-1 formation as was tried against Macclesfield. Guy Ipoua and Adam Stansfield will probably start upfront.

Probable Line-up: Brown, Travis, Beckwith, Mkandawire, Jeannin, Williams, Stanley, Ferrell, Nicolau, Ipoua, Stansfield.

Subs: Mawson, Green, James, Purdie, Carey-Bertram.

We must pick ourselves up says Turner

Graham Turner has told his players to forget the LDV defeat and concentrate on tomorrow's game at Grays.

"Naturally, the players are disappointed with the LDV result," Turner told the Worcester News. "But we must pick ourselves up and get on with it.

"I thought our general performance was good, but we did not have the punch in the right areas. We just could not get the breaks to score a goal.

"I'm disappointed in the manner that we conceded those two goals like that. From a defensive point of view, they were two poor goals.

"Our defensive record has been very good this season and with the players we've got, we should have dealt much better with it. We created a few opportunities to get back into the game, but it was not to be."

Turner is hoping for good backing from the fans at Grays. He praised the 300 supporters that made the trip to Macclesfield.

"It's an important game for us. First of all, we must make sure we do not lose the game. That is not being negative, but with the make-up of our side, we are going to have to battle away."

Nicolau Profile

This profile is taken from the Official Swindon Town website.

Former Arsenal player who is equally at home in defence or in midfield. Signed from Southend United in the summer of 2005.

Spent eight years at Highbury after joining the club as a 12-year old. Progressed up through the ranks with the likes of David Bentley and Jermaine Pennant. After two seasons in the reserves at Arsenal, made a loan switch to Southend United in April 2004 before making the switch permanent.

After making 24 (including 9 as a loanee) appearances for Southend United and playing in the League Two Play-Off Final, Nicolau made the switch to The County Ground as one of Andy King's summer signings in 2005 and has made three starts to date.

After undergoing a hernia repair in October 2005 but now back in first team training and will be keen to make a return to first team action sooner rather than later after making a comeback in the reserves in November 2005.

Nicolau is twenty two years old, and will be twenty three this year. He is 5"8 and can play in the middle of on the left of defence or midfield.

Nicolau joins on loan

Hereford United have signed Nicky Nicolau on loan from Swindon Town for the rest of the season according to the Official Newsblog. Nicolau is a left sided player and is expected to be in contention for tommorow's trip to Grays.

This is how the Swindon Offical Site revealed the news:

Swindon Town midfielder Nicky Nicolau is to join Conference outfit Hereford United on a month's loan.

The former Arsenal player made the switch to Swindon from Southend United last summer but has failed to make an impression on the first team to date.

After featuring in five of the opening games of the new campaign, Nicolau was sidelined with a hernia repair operation but has since made a return to action with the reserves.

However with several reserve games under his belt, Nicolau will be looking to make an impression whilst with Graham Turner's side whilst also getting some much-needed match sharpness.

Subject to the move being completed, he should be available for selection this weekend as Hereford United take on Grays Athletic.

Interestingly the two sites disagree about how long Nicolau will stay at Edgar Street.

Leases May Be Needed To Be Extended In Days Not Months

The extension of the leases may have to be finalised within days after the Football League confirmed to Bulls News that the lease documents would have to be ready when their inspection team visited Edgar Street.

That visit could be as early as February - meaning that the club could have just days to finalise the lease extension.

The Football League told Bulls News that inspection teams were set to visit all 'applicable clubs' during February, and that the lease documents would need to be in place for that visit.

The lease in question, which expires on 10th August 2015, has been the subject of hot debate since Graham Turner admitted 18 months ago that the requirement for a 10 year lease could become a problem but Turner has seemingly shrugged off worries about the lease, assuring recent Liaison meetings that the matter would be sorted in time.

Rochdale Renew Christie Interest

After a brief war of words, Rochdale have made a renewed bid for Kidderminster striker Iyseden Christie - and want a second Harriers player as well.

The second player is believed to be defender Mark Jackson, another of the high earners at Aggborough.

However, the Rochdale Observer reports that the bid is still below the valuation Harriers have put on the pair with the paper claiming that boss Mark Yates has doubled his price on Christie, adding that the player was livid at Yates decision.

Meanwhile, Exeter winger Les Afful is now likely to become a Torquay player on a three month loan. He will join up with former Grecians boss John Cornforth, who became caretaker-boss there earlier in the week.

Tamworth Keeper Loses Kidney

Tamworth keeper Scott Bevan has had a kidney removed after Tuesday night's match with Forest Green.

Bevan, who joined Tamworth from MK Dons in October and completed a permanent move a month ago, was involved in a collision with Forest Green striker Julian Alsop. After feeling unwell on the team bus, Bevan took himself into his local A&E, where it was discovered that the kidney was shattered.

Tamworth general manager Russell Moore said on the official Tamworth site: "This is very upsetting news for us all at the football club, especially after the recent highs of the FA Cup run in which Scott played a massive part. It puts a lot of football related issues into perspective."

It is currently unclear how long Bevan might be out though it is possible, if the remaining kidney is in such a good condition, for him to be back between the posts within 3 months. Bevan is likely to remain in hospital for the next week while doctors monitor his condition.

Grays game on Internet

BBC Hereford and Worcester will have full second half commentary on the Grays Athletic/Hereford United both on 94.7fm in Herefordshire and world-wide on the internet tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile Graham Turner, the Hereford united manager, has told BBC H&W that he is keen to avenge the defeat of the Bulls by Grays earlier in the season at Edgar Street.

"It's something we would like to put right.

"I've the greatest respect for their side. They're a very well-organised side with some good individual players

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Turner hopeful of signing by Saturday

Graham Turner is hopeful of having at least one new player at Edgar Street by Saturday according to BBC Hereford and Worcester.

Turner was interviewed by the station earlier today and said that he had agreed terms with a player for a season long loan and will know tomorrow if the player is coming to Edgar Street.

Turner has also confirmed that the knee injury to Jamie Pitman could keep him out for up to a month.

With Graham Evans leaving the club, there are currently only 19 players in the Hereford United squad.

UPDATE: Turner's comments

"We've worked hard on it. It's taken some persuading to get the lad to agree, but right at this point we've got an agreement from the player, an agreement from the club.

"It's the formalities that have got to be taken care of but sometimes there is a slip in those.

"So we take nothing for granted but I would hope we have at least one new face in for Saturday."

Aldershot Accept Sills Offers

Aldershot have accepted two offers for top scorer Tim Sills.

The 10 goal striker is out of contract at the end of the season, and the recent signing of Leroy Griffiths - with three goals in two games, has allowed the Shots to cash in on Sills before he can depart on a free in the summer.

Meanwhile, Cambridge have signed experienced full back Tommy Jaszczun (apparently, it's pronounced 'Yashin') from Rochdale on loan, but have lost out on wanted-man Jake Edwards after the Exeter striker decided to come off the transfer list and fight for his place at the real St James Park. Exeter, however, are in talks with Swansea striker Lee Thorpe. Thorpe, 30, has scored nearly 100 goals in over 300 senior appearances for a string of clubs. Stevenage have also signed former Reading man Eric Chukwunyelu Obinna. The Nigerian striker made an un-announced subs appearance on Tuesday night and was formerly a player at Arsenal and St Etienne. Forest Green have also failed in an attempt to sign Exeter's Les Afful on loan. Afful, 20, failed to complete a surprise loan move to Yeovil last week, and this deal has fallen down in similarly mysterious circumstances.

Evans Leaves For TNS

Graham Evans has left the Bulls on a free transfer to League Of Wales side TNS.

Evans, 26, scored 132 goals in 191 appearances for LoW side Caersws, managed by his father Mickey, and had a spell with Aston Villa in his earlier career, but failed to make an impression on the Conference in limited chances - starting two matches with ten other sub appearances without scoring.

TNS manager Ken McKenna said of his signing: "I have been a long time admirer of Graham and have tried to sign him a couple of times previously. His arrival will stimulate the other strikers in our squad and I am sure he will continue his prolific scoring in our colours. Evans will wear squad number 11."

Evans' departure leaves the Bulls with just 19 players, including loan players Wayne Brown and Daryl Taylor and youngster Sam Gwynne - who is yet to debut for the senior side.

Cambridge City Sell Ground

In a meeting at their Milton Road ground, Cambridge City Chairman Arthur Eastman told fans that the board had sold the Milton Road site.

Few details of the deal were announced, but the purchasers are believed to be York Construction, the club's main sponsor. The club are expected to vacate the ground at the end of the season, but do have an option to remain for the 2006/07.

A link up with Cambridge United was unanimously vetoed by City fans in a show of hands, but City board members refused to rule out the possibility entirely - and United finance director Nick Pomery has admitted that City directors joining the United board has already been discussed, at City's request: "I think we need to see what comes of the forum and what that might mean for any possible decisions between the clubs. It's not really for United to put their size nine boots into the discussion that City directors and fans are having. They've got come to the conclusion over whether the proposition that they brought to us is something they can pursue any further. Clearly there's still some disquiet among City fans and I know by what we went through in the summer the issue is can United help in City's difficulties without damaging United? That's the proposition we're trying to work our way through and maybe we can make it happen, maybe not."

City fans have already formed an independent ground, Cambridge City Action Group, to help preserve the City club - and have threatened to form their own City side if a merger takes place.

Should merger talks fail, City are likely to ground share with fellow Conference South side Histon.

Preview: Grays vs Bulls

The Bulls travel to Grays for a Conference match for the first time. The early season 2-0 loss to Grays at Edgar Street was a signal for a misfiring Bulls side, while Grays went off like a rocket with 15 matches unbeaten, but have now recorded just one win in six - dropping 15 points on current leaders Accrington, and nine on the Bulls.

The Bulls protect a record of two losses in 20, and an unbeaten 10 game run stretching eight weeks. The size of the squad remains a worry, with manager Graham Turner struggling for bodies to fill the subs bench at times. Promises of new signings have so far come to nothing and the supporters are getting impatient, fearing the window will slam shut before new faces arrive.

Grays have had no problem signing new players, signing three new defenders to shore up an often overwhelmed defence. One player not to have signed up for Grays is Darren Blewitt, who was strongly rumoured to have signed when his spell at Edgar Street ended but has failed to materialise.

Gravesend Fixture Now March 7th

The official Hereford United newsblog has announced that the postponed Gravesend game has a new date.

The Bulls will travel to Stonebridge Road on Tuesday March 7th, with a 7.45pm kick off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Council aware of Lease Situation

Progress towards renewing the leases on the Hereford United football ground looks more likely as soon as the new chief executive of the Edgar Street Regeneration Company takes up his post at the beginning of February.

Hereford United need an agreement to renew the leases for at least ten years. Without an agreement they would not be able to move up to a higher division.

Currently the Herefordshire Council are in discussions with the Richardsons to whom the ground is leased. The Richardsons then lease it to Hereford United.

The Council say they wish to discuss the issue of the leases with the new Chief Executive before proceeding any further.

"It is an important aspect of the overall scheme", said a spokesperson.

Last October the Council appointed Clive Richards OBE as the Chair of the Board of Edgar Street Grid (Hereford) Ltd, the venture company set up to steer through the project.

At the time Sir Clive stated that 'Hereford United should stay put. The giant killer club is an integral part of the city.'

Footnote: There are two leases involving Hereford United. They expire on August 10 2015 and August 12 2057.

After the club got into severe debt, the leases were taken over firstly by the BS Group. Later Chelverton bought out the BS Group interest.

More recently they were taken over by the Richardson/Carillion partnership when Chelverton had financial problems.

Hereford? Is It That Time Of Year Already

Malcolm Macdonald has given an interview to the Offical Newcastle Website in advance of the Magpies trip to Cheltenham in the FA Cup. Below is a flavour of the article:

Cheltenham's Whaddon Road is just 40 miles along the A40 from Edgar Street, Hereford, scene of Newcastle's biggest FA Cup shock. The Magpies play their 5,000th competitive match against The Robins this Saturday - and arguably none of the previous 4,999 have been as infamous as THAT giantkilling act of February 1972.

Who knows what script will be written on Saturday, but one thing is certain on Saturday Match of the Day will dust down footage of Ronnie Radford, Ricky George and co in their pre-match build-up!

IAN WILLIS spoke to MALCOLM MACDONALD about a result that still sends a shiver down the spine of all Geordies.

GALLOWGATE legend Malcolm Macdonald hopes the Magpies will stick to the basics in order to avoid an FA Cup upset at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Supermac, who will be commentating on the game at Whaddon Road for Century Radio, knows all about giant-killing acts having suffered at the hands of Hereford back in 1972

He told "People always talk about that game against Hereford at this time of year. I dread the start of January because the BBC always drag out the footage of that game.

"I scored five goals in a game for England against Cyprus and I've never, ever seen those goals on the BBC, yet those Hereford goals are on every year!

"The thing about that game at Hereford was that I scored to put us 1-0 up with just seven minutes left

"At that point, as the higher club, you think it's the job done and is just a case of seeing the game out.

"But it didn't work like that, and a couple of minutes later Ronnie Radford got the equaliser. I remember seeing that ball leave his foot and seeing Willie McFaul make a move for it. I thought to myself 'don't even both going for that one Willie, you've got no chance'.

"That took the game to extra time, the fans were on the pitch, the surface was getting worse, and we all know what happened after that.

"I suppose that's why they say this is a magical competition, though, because it shows that anything can happen"

Bulls stumble at semi-final stage again

Hereford United were knocked out of the LDV Vans Trophy last night by Macclesfield Town at Moss Lane. It is the second season in succession that The Bulls have been eliminated at the (Northern) area semi-final stage against League opposition.

United, without the injured Adam Stansfield and Stacey Coldicott, cup-tied Daryl Taylor and ineligible Wayne Brown, started with an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation with Andy Williams and Danny Carey-Bertram occupying the wings. There was a recall to the starting eleven for Guy Ipoua, Craig Mawson and Carey-Bertram and Ryan Green returned from injury and was named amogst the substitutes.

The first half had rather and "end-to-end" style to it, but it was Macclesfield who were by far the happier of the two sides at the break, despite play having been fairly equal. The Silkmen always looked dangerous going forwards, with midfielders breaking quickly from the midfield, something that Hereford lacked, although Ipoua played well as the lone-striker. However, it was Martin Bullock in the centre who provided the first chance for the hosts. His through ball found Danny Whitaker but Mawson saved when the striker was through, and Tamika Mkandawire cleared for a corner.

Whitaker had been denied this time, but with nineteen minutes gone he broke the deadlock. He managed to force his way through the centre of Hereford's defence and left Mawson with no chance as he smashed home the opener from ten yards out. United put The Silkmen under some pressure but didn't trouble 'keeper Alan Fettis, even though Williams did well to put in some dangerous crosses from the right flank. At the other end Kevin Townson saw a shot deflected behind by Beckwith, but Hereford broke from the resulting corner through Pitman who supplied a good pass for Carey-Bertram, however he fired Hereford's only real shot of the half just wide.

There was still time left in the half, though, for The Silkmen to double their advantage after fourty five minutes. Kevin McIntyre turned his man on the edge of the Bull's box and knocked the ball to his left where Paul Harsley fired into the top corner, again leaving Mawson with no chance. Graham Turner made a much needed change at the interval, with Rob Purdie replacing Andy Ferrell and he switched the formation to a 4-4-2 with Carey-Bertram joining Ipoua in attack.

The change in formation was an effective one as The Whites began to threaten much more. Ipoua, at the heart of nearly everything that United created, headed a Mawson goal kick on for Carey-Bertram who poked over from the left of the penalty box. Ipoua then fired inches wide as he showed good strength and power to burst through the centre of The Silkmen's defence and went closer again with a speculative effort from twenty five yards that flew just over the bar.

Williams headed wide from a Purdie corner as United again failed to foce a save out of Fettis, but continued to peg their graded opponents back and limit them to very rare attacks on the break, which led to nothing. Craig Stanley played man of the match Ipoua through just ahead of the defence, but he was denied reasonably easily by Fettis while Mkandawire, still up from a corner late on, managed to turn his man in the box but the ball, that had been played just in front of him, was cleared by David Morley.

It was a disappointing result in the end for Hereford, who had good reason to feel that they had done enough to at least get a draw that would have taken the tie to extra-time. The first half ended up being decisive and it was the hosts who were much more prepared to gamble and send men forward from the midfield to support their front men who gained a place in the area final. Maybe if one of the three centre midfielders in Ferrell, Pitman, and Stanley, had given more support to Ipoua, who stood out throughout, then the result may have been different. The attendance was perhaps a little disappointing for the hosts, as they could only manage around 1,000 fans in a crowd of 1,315.

HUFC: Mawson, Travis, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Jeannin, Williams, Pitman, Ferrell, Stanley, Carey-Bertram, Ipoua. Subs: James, Lewis, Green, Evans, Purdie.

MTFC: Fettis, Swailes, Morley, Sandwith, Harsley, Whitaker, Navarro, McIntyre, Bullock, Wijnhard, Townson . Subs: Beresford, Lee, Teague, Miles, Smart

Mark Wright Suspended

Ever controversial manager Mark Wright has been suspended from his job at Peterborough United pending an internal investigation.

Wright has been a regular face in the news for the wrong reasons, getting dismissed from Oxford United for racially abusing black referee Joe Ross, and eventually leaving Chester City under a cloud after a string of odd behaviour that included acquiring defender Wayne Hatswell's girlfriend, leading to the defender leaving the club and Wright revising his contract to demand tickets for his new flame for home matches, and assault charges relating to his ex-wife.

Now, Wright is believed to have made comments to one of his current players that have exceeded the club's disciplinary code.

It's a long way to Grays

It's a long way to Grays Athletic (from Herefordshire) on Saturday, but after the Bulls excellent support at Macclesfield last night, there is expected to be another good turnout of supporters at the recreation ground.

HUISA are running a coach. It will leave Edgar Street at 9am and Ledbury at 9.30am. The fare is £18. Bookings can be made at the main office.

For those travelling by car: (Details from official Grays Athletic website)

From Junction 30 of the M25, take the A13 towards Southend. At the Grays exit follow the signs to the town centre. Upon entering the one-way system, keep left then continue up the hill for about 1/2 mile. Turn right into Bridge Road. The ground is on your right.

Parking within the ground is very limited, but there is a small, free public car park opposite the main entrance. Grays train station is a seven minute walk away and there is a large multi-storey car park just six minutes away, near the station.

By Train:

Grays is on the London-Tilbury-Southend line, from Fenchurch Street. The ground is about seven minutes' walk from the station.

After coming out of Grays station, turn right, approx 800 yards, then turn right again into Clarence Road. You can enter the ground via Bradbourne Road on your right. Alternatively, for access to the bar, keep going along Clarence Road, turn right into Bridge Road, and the main entrance is on your right

The Ground:

The 'New' Rec was re-developed in 2004-5 to meet Football Conference standards. The main stand has 1,000 seats for supporters. There is covered terracing around the ground accommodating 2,000 plus and an away terrace, the Bradbourne Road end, which holds around 500 fans.


An excellent food kiosk is provided near the players' changing rooms where Dave and his dedicated team of helpers will serve you a variety of hot and cold drinks and one of his famous burgers. A further refreshment kiosk is planned and may be available when you visit.


Adults: £11
Senior Citizens: £7
Youths 11-16: £7
Students (with valid ID): £7
Children under 11 (accompanied by an adult: or Senior Citizen): £4

Conference News Round-Up

Kidderminster have released defender Patrick Flynn after his short term contract expired. Scarboro's teenage striker Michael Coulson is on trial at Barnsley after scoring three times in six starts. Stevenage have signed QPR midfielder Adam Miller on a free transfer. Tamworth have signed defender Peter Folkes after his release from Lincoln, have loaned Kyle Storer to Hinckley, but have allowed Eddie Ancalet to return to Southampton after his loan expired. Halifax have signed ex-Bristol Rovers defender Steve Yates until the end of the season. Yates had joined Scarboro non-contract after initially retiring at the end of last season. York have resigned defender David McGurk on loan until the end of the season from Darlington after a 22 game spell at the club earlier in the season. York have also added Chesterfield striker Tcham N'Toya on loan for a month, and defender Darren Craddock from Hartlepool. Exeter have told Weymouth they want £10,000 for striker Jake Edwards after originally telling Tamworth he was available on a free transfer. Weymouth have ended their interest in the striker.

A report from Macclesfield

This is the report of last night's game from the Offical Macclesfield Website:

Two first half strikes gave Macclesfield a 2-0 win over Conference high flyers Hereford this evening, ensuring their passage through to the Northern Final of the LDV Vans Trophy.

Despite an unspectacular second half, the Silkmen defended their lead to beat the Bulls and get to within touching distance of a money spinning trip to the Millennium Stadium.

Danny Whitaker saw a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges and had the first real chance of the match when he was played through by Martin Bullock.  However, Hereford keeper Craig Mawson did well to stay on his feet long enough to tip the midfielder's chip away from danger.

Whitaker wasn't to be denied though and gave the Silkmen the lead four minutes later. The ball bounced favourably for him following a defensive mix up between Alex Jeannin and Tamika Mkandawire, and he smashed in from only six yards out.

Hereford looked fairly dangerous on the break but despite efforts from ex-Cameroon striker Guy Ipoua and the impressive Danny Carey-Bartram, Alan Fettis didn't have a save to make in the first half.

Moments before half time, Kevin McIntyre collected Clyde Wijnhard's header and turned his defender just outside the box.  It looked as if has chance had gone, before he teed up Paul Harsley who fired into the far corner to give Macc the crucial second goal.

The visitors made a substitution at half time and came out looking far stronger after the break, with Carey-Bartram firing a good chance over in the 49th minute.

The Silkmen also survived a strong shout of handball against Danny Swailes in his own area, the ex-Bury man appeared to handle a cross from the left but the referee waved away appeals from Hereford players and fans.

Ipoua missed another few half-chances and Macc had opportunities of their own to stretch the lead later in the half, but despite strong pressure from the visitors at times, it never looked likely that they would mount a comeback.

Alan Fettis almost embarrassed himself five minutes before the final whistle when substitute Graham Evans caught him in possession following Alan Navarro's backpass. The ex-Northern Ireland stopper's blushes were spared as it deflected across goal and he was able to scramble it clear for a throw-in.

Against a side well placed for promotion into League Two, Macc put the 5-0 capitulation at Northampton behind them to progress to face Carlisle in the Northern Final, and also recorded their first clean sheet of the year in the process.