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 .