Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Preview: Morecambe vs Bulls

The Bulls travel to Morecambe on Saturday for another crucial game in their fight to overhaul Accrington.

It's a fixture that the home team has dominated, with the Bulls getting a solitary away win on their first Conference trip to Christie Park in November 1997, while Morecambe have only won twice at Edgar Street.

The Bulls will be encouraged with the 1-0 win gained at Edgar Street in September - Andy Ferrell getting his only goal of the campaign so far just before half time with Morecambe finishing the game with 10 men following Chris Blackburn's late dismissal for two bookings.

The Bulls also go into the game on the back of a 12 match unbeaten run, and nearly five months since they lost an away game in the Conference.

Morecambe have been poor on their travels, losing their last three away games, but at home their record is much better averaging two goals a game and losing just twice in 15 occasions. They do have their slip-ups though - as a 3-0 reverse at home to Scarboro at the end of January will confirm. They have also lost their last two matches, away at Accrington and Aldershot.

Morecambe vs Hereford United, Christie Park, Saturday 4th March, 3.00pm.

Result: Crawley Get Late Draw At Gravesend

A last minute Neil Jenkins goal grabbed Crawley a valuable point in their struggle for safety.

Gravesend, who the Bulls visit in a week, took the lead through Mark Rawle on the hour mark, but squadered a string of chances before the visitors snuck an undeserved point.

Crawley move to within a point of safety, while Gravesend look set for mid table being nine points off the play-offs.

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Cooper?

Or is it Dad's Army at The Lamb?

Tommy Johnson becomes Mark Cooper's latest Premiership veteran at Tamworth. The Lambs now have ten players over 30 in their squad. Johnson, the ex-Villa and Celtic striker, joins fellow Premiership veterans Nicky 'Don't Panic' Summerbee, Paul 'Godfrey' Merson, and Bob 'Don't tell them (I'm in the bar) Pike' Taylor in the Home Guard.

Crawley boss John Hollins has encouraged a performance out of his players by telling them all they're useless: "They struggled to pass the ball five yards at times and ran out of ideas going forward. I brought in two players because I could get two players out. I would like to move out as many as I can but I can't."

York's Supporters Trust met on Saturday to discuss the offer from Chief Executive Jason McGill's company to take over a portion of the Trust's shareholding in exchange for covering some debts. No decision has yet been made. York have allowed keeper David Stockdale to join Worksop on a month's loan. Striker Andy Bishop, however, is mystified that the club has not signalled their intentions to him. The Conference top scorer is out of contract in the summer, and no offer has been made to the 23 year old.

Exeter have released striker Craig Watkins after the teenager failed to settle in Devon following his move from Sutton Utd in the summer.

Cambridge are lining up moves for two more players. Lincoln defender Matt Bloomer and Bolton's teenage keeper Sam Ashton both impressed in yesterday's reserve match.

Aldershot boss Terry Brown has denied reports of a rift with departed defender John Brough, saying that Brough's contract had a clause in it requiring him to play in 32 matches this season in order to get a deal for next season, and that once that was impossible it was agreed he should leave.

Gravesend have extended defender Robert Watkins' loan from Fulham for two more months. The club have kept three clean sheets in five games with Watkins in the side.

A very young squad last night

Sky Sports reporters noted just how young the Hereford United squad was for last night's game. With an average age of just 22, it could have been the youngested first team ever started by the Bulls.
Brown - 29
Green - 25
Mkandwire - 22
Beckwith -22
Travis - 28
Nicolau - 22
Stanley - 22
Ferrell - 22
Taylor - 21
Fleetwood - 19
Williams - 19

Meanwhile although Daryl Taylor's loan spell at Edgar Street is due to end after Saturday's Morecambe game, it is probable that the deal with Walsall has been extended to the end of the season. However no details of any extension have been released by either Hereford or Walsall where the manager has changed since the original deal was agreed.

Ferrell chose wrong game to be booked

Andy Ferrell was unfortunate to have been booked in the game against Stevenage last night. Had he been booked next Saturday or afterwards he probably wouldn't have had to serve a one game suspension.

Although, as yet, there has been no official confirmation of any suspension, Bulls News beleives Ferrell had four cards before last night and therefore will miss a game, probably that against Morecambe next Saturday.

The rules change tomorrow, March 1st. Before that date any player collecting five cards gets a one match ban, but any fifth card received on or after March 1st only results in a warning.

An Armchair view of last night's proceedings

Glynis Wright stayed in the warm last night but watched the game on Sky - just to keep her husband company?

'Im Indoors decided to watch Hereford do battle with Stevenage live on the box, and when that happens, our cats all do the sensible thing, and shift upstairs as fast as their furry leetle bodies will allow. Over the years, they, too, have learned - usually the hard way - that when my other half watches live football in which he has something of a vested interest, their tranquil and peaceful existence can come to an abrupt halt very quickly - and so it was to prove tonight: I generally watch too, if only to ensure that raw emotions don't get the better of my other half when witnessing such encounters! The final score, a 2-0 win for The Bulls, was a deserved one, achieved in the face of some pretty nasty skulduggery from the visiting side.

As Stevenage were responsible for dumping Hereford out of the play-offs the other season, there's quite a bit of bad blood between the two sides, even now. For that, I still blame the referee, whose overall control and mastery of that game was on something of a par with someone supervising a Sunday league game on a parks pitch. No, belay that - a Sunday league referee would have done considerably better. As for their present crew, imagine, if you will, Warnock's Sheffield United side of three or four seasons ago, but in slightly more dilute form, and that'll give you some idea of the hostile spirit in which tonight's game was conducted. During the course of the first half alone, the visitors conceded 16 fouls, compared to only four on the part of the Bulls. Come the second, not only did they amass lots more fouls, and yellow cards, one of their number also saw red.

While the game was still but young, and noticing the ref's marked reluctance to stamp on some pretty nasty tackles from Stevenage, I forecast that the visitors would be very lucky indeed to finish the game with eleven men, and so it proved. Come the 70th minute, their lad Gregory finally earned 'early bath' status, having already been booked for some previous act of minor thuggery or other, but by that time, it didn't matter terribly. Hereford were already two to the good, thanks to delightful strikes by Andy Williams, from a free-kick, just before the break, and a neat bit of opportunism early in the second half by Fleetwood, Hereford's other youthful striker, who rounded his defender with some aplomb, then fired into the net from about six or seven yards out to make it a fully-deserved two.

There was also very much of an Albion connection involved, with Tam Mkandawire giving his all at the back, as per usual, and later in the game still, on came Danny Carey-Bertram, from the bench. Probably too late for him to make any sort of impact on the proceedings, but playing his part, nevertheless. Returning to Tam once more, assuming that The Bulls dip in their quest for League status again, I can't see them managing to hold on to the former Baggies lad. He really is way too good for the Conference; in fact what surprised me more was the fact no other League club came in for him when he was declared surplus to Albion's requirements. Their loss was most certainly Hereford's gain. The other Albion input came, of course, from Tucka Trewick, Hereford's man on the sidelines, Number Two to former Dingle Graham Turner.

That win now puts the cider slurpers second in the Conference table, with something of a gap opening up just below for the first time this campaign. It's probably too late to catch the leaders, Accrington, who now look well and truly bound for the Football League, but just like we did with The Dingles back in 2001-02, you still keep nibbling at them in the faint hope they'll eventually crack, and spectacularly so, preferably. As we saw, sometimes it actually works. Oh, and by the way, don't fall for any of this 'back in the League after being chucked out of it in 1962' guff occasionally put out by the media, it's dead wrong - and they should know better. The Accrington Stanley you see performing today are nothing whatsoever to do with the mob that got their marching orders when I was ten. It's a similar thing to what The Dingles did back in the mid-eighties: their real title is "Accrington Stanley FC (1968)". They only got going as an active concern in the 1970-71 season, when a crowd of some 620 brave souls saw them do Lancashire Combination battle with Formby. Even their current ground has nothing whatsoever to do with the old side - so there!

Green may hold onto record

Hereford United defender, Ryan Green, could hold onto his record of being the youngster player to feature for the senior Welsh side after all.

It was thought that Lewin Nyatanga, the 17 year-old Derby defender, would take over the record but it now appears that he is a doubt for Wales.

Nyatanga has a toe infection and his fitness will be looked at this afternoon.

If he plays, Nyatanga, at 17 years and 195 days old, will beat Ryan Green's record as Wales' youngest international by just 31 days.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Turner waiting for Accrington

Graham Turner thinks the up-coming game against Accrington Stanley must be won if the Bulls are to have any chance of catching the 'Milkmen'.

Although the Bulls closed the gap to 13 points last night, it is still a big margin at this stage of the season.

"There's got to be a massive turnaround," said Turner to Sky Sports after last night's match..

"We've got to beat them here in a couple of weeks time and we've got to hope that other sides in contention for the play-offs take points off them."

"If that happens we've got to be there but at the moment they're looking almost home.

"We don't give up!"

Tamika Mkandawire, Hereford United's stand-in captain, gave these few words to the Western Daily Press.

"We're well placed to finish in the top five and we can consolidate that position if we can win our next match against Morecambe on Saturday."

Westley makes his excuses

Stevenage Borough manager Graham Westley made his excuses for Boro losing 2-0 at Hereford this evening.

"I think the players can take a lot of credit from what they did in the last half hour," Westley told Sky.

"They went down to ten men, they battled hard, they stayed on the front foot, they were aggresive, they carved their chances out and had we taken one of those, Jeff hit the post, it might even have been a different game.

"We always fancied ourselves to come strong. We are a side that goes long and we fancied ourselves to come strong in the second half.

"If the sending-off hadn't have happened it might have been different."

Willo in Wonderland

Andy Williams was in dream land once again as he found the scoresheet for the second game in a row, moving his season total up to eleven goals of which seven have come in the Nationwide Conference. The youngster again impressed this evening, in front of a wider audience than usual with the game being live on Sky, as Hereford United defeated play off rivals Stevenage Borough at Edgar Street.

United, who were unchanged from the side that started last week against Aldershot, started well but failed to really test Alan Julian in the Boro goal in the early stages. Stuart Fleetwood, who is also making quite a name for himself at Edgar Street, had a shot blocked in the opening stages and then moments later Stevange threatened for the first time when Dino Maamria volleyed wide at the near post.

Tamika Mkandawire's header, from Ryan Green's free kick was saved by Julian before Nicky Nicolau was replaced, on seventeen minutes, by Rob Purdie due to injury. Williams latched onto a flick-header by Fleetwood but a defender was in the way of his shot while, at the other end, George Boyd almost created a goal out of nothing. He caught the ball on the full volley twenty five yards from goal, almost catching Wayne Brown out, but the 'keeper managed to scramble across his line to push the ball behind.

Fleetwood and Andy Ferrell both had shots saved before the deadlock was broken in the final minute of first half added time. Ferrell delivered a free kick into the box, which was met by the head of Dean Beckwith and Williams was on hand in the middle to stretch out a leg and volley high into the net from around eight yards.

Boyd again forced Brown into a brilliant save just after the restart as the goalie clawed an effort from the winger out of the air extravagantely but it was the Bulls who were to score again and put a clear margin between the two sides. Green took a throw in on the right which Williams touched to Craig Stanley. Stanley played another short ball to Fleetwood who, with his back to goal, span off his marker before planting a shot across the helpless Julian and into the far bottom corner.

Jefferson Louis, one of three first half bookings for the more-than-physical side, almost grabbed one back for the visitors a minute later but saw his curling effort rebound back into play off the post and from then on United were in complete control. Mkandawire headed just over from a Ferrell, impressive again in midfield, free kick crossed to the far post before Fleetwood showed he is human after all when he fired wide of the mark, having skinned two opponents.

Then, rather inevitabely, a red card was produced for a Stevenage player with twenty minutes left on the clock. Justin Gregory, who had been terrorised by the pace of Daryl Taylor all evening had already picked up a first half booking and left the referee, Rob Lewis, no choice but to show him a second when he tripped Taylor as the winger skipped past him once again. Ronnie Henry had to be careful to clear over his cross bar as he got a foot to an inviting Taylor cross from the right with attackers lurking at the far post. Then, from the resulting corner, more danger lingered for Boro. Fleetwood crossed to outside of the box where man of the match Stanley awaited before unleashing a thunderous volley that flew just inches over the bar.

Julian showed good hands to deny Williams a second goal, as the attacker beat his man from the bye line, leaving Henry to head behind before Danny Carey-Bertram was given two minutes (and the four injury time minutes) to have a run out, in the place of Taylor and then seventeen year-old Sam Gwynne was given his debut in place of Fleetwood.

There were some very impressive individual performances this evening, but everyone worked well together also and, in the end, United quite easily overcame what appeared to be a very difficult fixture. In particular Beckwith, Stanley, Ferrell, Williams and Fleetwood stood out. The result takes United back into second place and leave Stevenage where they were before in fourth position. The only slightly disappointment of the evening was the attendance, no doubt affected by the live coverage on Sky, which was 2,394 including 41 away fans.

HUFC: Brown, Green, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Travis, Nicolau, Ferrell, Stanley, Taylor, Williams, Fleetwood. Subs: Haliday, Mawson, Purdie, Gwynne, Carey-Bertram.

SBFC: Julian, Hocking, Quinn, Henry, Gregory, Bulman, Berquez, Miller, Boyd, Maamria, Louis. Subs: Goodliffe, Weatherstone, Obinna, Nurse, Stamp.

Bulls defeat Boro

Hereford United deservedly defeated Stevenage Borough 2-0 this evening at Edgar Street.

The two nineteen year old forwards, Andy Williams and Stuart Fleetwood, both scored. Williams just before half-time and Fleetwood early in the second half.

Boro had Gregory sent off for a second yellow card in a game that produced six yellow cards, all but one for Boro.

It didn't all go Hereford's way as Nicky Nicolau had to be subbed when he picked up an injury and Andy Ferrell collected his fifth yellow card this season after appearing to dispute one of referee Bob Lewis' decisions.

Top of the Conference:
1 Accrington Stanley 30 27 70
2 Hereford 30 20 57
3 Halifax 32 10 57
4 Stevenage 32 11 53
5 Morecambe 32 15 51
6 York 31 17 50
7 Grays Athletic 29 14 48
8 Exeter 30 12 47

It's Edgar Street or Sky this evening

It looks as though there will not be any local coverage of the Hereford United/Stevenage Borough game this evening.

BBC Hereford and Worcester has just said that there will be news of the Hereford United game in the breakfast show tomorrow morning. No mention of anything this evening.

There may be updates on BBC Three Counties Radio.

Bulls News will have a full report around 11pm.

Play-off rivals lock horns

This article was published in the Times this morning:

STEVENAGE can boost their hopes of securing a play-off place in the Conference and land odds of 100-30 with Bet Direct by winning away to Hereford United in tonight's televised fixture.

Accrington Stanley's lead at the top of the division seems unassailable, leaving Hereford and Stevenage, the third and fourth placed teams, with only the play-offs to shoot at. And, with a clutch of teams within striking distance should either falter on the run-in, both sides have everything to play for.

Although Stevenage have displayed their best football at home this season, they can travel with a degree of confidence after losing only once in their last nine visits to Edgar Road, latterly triumphing 1-0 in the second leg of their play-off semi-final last May. Graham Westley's men were to lose the final 1-0 to Carlisle.

Stevenage's recent form has been encouraging, with ten of a possible 12 points being taken from their past four games, while Graham Turner, the Hereford manager, has been forced to turn to his youngsters with Jamie Pitman, Tony James and Adam Stansfield all out, and Guy Ipoua doubtful.

Hereford are best-priced at 10-11 with Skybet and Blue Square. The draw is a general 12-5.

FGR Announce Steep Price Rises Next Season

Forest Green have become the first club to announce their pricing plans for next season - and they show a sharp increase on this years prices for adult tickets.

Matchday adult prices will rise £2 for the move to their new stadium, but Concession and Child rates drop on the terraces. An adult season ticket rises by £45, or £1 a game after the expansion to 24 clubs is taken into consideration.

The most contentious price increase, amongst FGR fans, is the implementation of a £3 car park charge per match for their new 250 space car park.

Trophy Draw Guarantees Conference Finalist

The FA Trophy draw has guaranteed a Conference finalist.

Exeter will face the winners of the Grays-Dagenham replay, while Boreham Wood will travel to either Woking or Stafford in the other semi-final tie.

The two legged matches will be played on March 18th and 25th.

Brough Departs Aldershot

Former Bull John Brough has left Aldershot by mutual consent after stuggling with injury all season.

Ironically, Brough's last match was against the Bulls last Tuesday - a game where he was substituted just after half time. He played just 17 times for The Shots, scoring once.

In other former Bull news, Matt Baker will only miss two weeks with a twisted ankle after being substituted in MK Dons match on Saturday. Baker was originally intended to be on the bench, but on-loan keeper Ricardo Batista was injured in the warm up. Striker Gareth Wilbraham played the second half in goal following Baker's injury.

Sky push Hereford game

As is usual before a game, Sky are carrying a preview to tonight's Conference clash at Edgar Street between Hereford United and Stevenage Borough.

According to Sky the match has got a bit of added spice to it as Hereford have got a score to settle as their hopes of returning to the Football League were ended last season when Stevenage beat them in the playoffs.

If there has been a whiff of revenge in the air at Hereford's impressive training ground, the Conference club are not admitting it.

Stevenage may have been the side who cruelly ended their hopes last season, but now with the play-offs looking a distinct possibility, Graham Turner is desperate to keep up the pressure on leaders Accrington.

"There are some good sides up there contending for places. We've got to make sure we're at least in there and then if Accrington do slip up by any chance we've got to be there to take advantage of it," commented Turner.

Full back Ryan Green is one of the survivors of Hereford's two-year heartbreak and he is justifiably proud of the way his side has come bouncing back for a third time.

"Two years in a row, the players were gutted. It's just been terrible but were looking to win it this year. If not, get into the playoffs," said Green.

"That's history now, we didn't play well against them. We didn't deserve to beat them. We're going quite well this season - we've gone eleven games unbeaten," Turner said.

"So we feel we can handle anybody in this league. Stevenage are no exception."

Hereford then are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in their relentless quest for a return to the Football League.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Latest Boro injury news

Below is the latest injury news from the Official Stevenage Borough Website as published at 9pm this evening:

The busiest department at Stevenage Borough remains in physiotherapy where the days have been long and the attendance levels high.

Luke Oliver has been told by doctors to rest for at least another fortnight after a scan of his calf problem.

Meanwhile Barry Laker continues to recover from his facial operation and will stay sidelined for another 3/4 weeks.

Danny Williams will see a specialist this week about his persistant tendon problem.

Whilst youngsters Ieaun Lewis and Lawrie Stewart are making progress and may train within 10 days.

Darryn Stamp has trained after being forced off against Canvey and may be available to start at Hereford. But Jon Nurse sees a specialist on Wednesday about his groin troubles. Nurse has offered to give the team 20 minutes from the bench at Edgar Street. Graham Westley is sure to remember his impact there last year in the semi final win and may well accept that offer.

Ollie Berquez came through his 45 minute outing against Canvey unscathed and will again be involved. Mickey Warner will need a late fitness test before a final decision is made on his availability. Like Nurse, Warner will make himself available from the bench if numbers are needed.

Shane Gore is progressing steadily and hopes to make the trip to Exeter. Dave Perpetuini will miss the trip through suspension giving Justin Gregory the chance to continue the impressive form he showed before the birth of his son.

Ciderspace hits back at Hoodies Taunts

There is an article in today's League paper entitled 'Internet hoodies force out Webb' which claims that Yeovil Town have vowed to crack down on fans who wage wars of words on Internet forums.

Internet yobs were yesterday blamed for hounding former Chelsea hero Dave Webb out of his role as chief executive after just six weeks.

And Webb's replacement John Fry - who starts his third stint in the hotseat during 13 years at the club - left no doubt about who Yeovil blame for it.

"They are Internet hoodies who hide away under anonymous names. If they can't put their names up they can't expect us to be transparent with them," he said.

The article, incorrectly it appears, says that Yeovil have already shut down an official forum "because it created negativity throughout the club" and refused to allow maverick sites to use the club's logo. Now they are hoping the authorities will help them outlaw the cowardly critics.

In response Ciderspace, who closed their forum down just before the appointment of Webb, absolutely refute that it was done because of any pressure or action from the club. They say that the decision to close was taken "entirely of their own accord because we wished to focus more time on other dimensions of the site."

In support of forums Ciderspace says:

With over 50% of the U.K. population on-line forums reflect a broad cross section of the population, and of Yeovil Town fans. They are a vehicle for young and old, the dedicated and the part-time, locals and exiles, the optimists and the pessimists, for Mr and Mrs Angry and Mr and Mrs Hello-Clouds-Hello-Skies, and everybody in between, to set out and discuss the same sort of opinions, views and suggestions they would on the terrace, in the stands, in the bars, pubs and bars, at work, or in cars, coaches and trains travelling to games. Leaving aside any journalistic licence from Mr Mafham with the use of words like "cowardly" and "yobs", for the club chairman to be quoted referencing such people as "Internet hoodies" does a grave disservice to the relationship between a significant number of committed fans and the club, in the opinion of Ciderspace. Some views and opinions may indeed be unfair or founded on a lack of knowledge, but as regular Internet users, unlike the main critics from the club, we feel the overwhelming proportion of postings are genuinely held, not malicious stirring. And of course for almost every critical view there will be posters arguing a counter case. That's what discussion is about, not tarring the Internet forums as the home of "hoodies".

Stevenage Supporters Wanted By Watford

Watford have embarked on a supporter recruitment drive - and have made Stevenage their first target.

Watford will trial their new "satellite fans" service in Stevenage for the remainder of the season, before extending the service to the remainder of Hertfordshire next season.

Offering adult tickets for as little as £14, with free coach travel for the 50 mile round trip, Watford will target people in and around the Stevenage area with adverts in the local press and radio.

Stevenage could little do with the targeted campaign to prise their fans away. Whilst they have strong off-field income, their gates have declined to a low of 1,403 last Tuesday, despite sitting in the Conference play-off zone, and they have struggled to attract new fans for more than one-off matches.

Big Game for us says Turner

Graham Turner says that the visit of Stevenage Borough to Edgar Street tomorrow evening is a big game.

"Stevenage are very experienced, quite physical at times," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

Hereford United will be without six of the older experienced members their squad. Tony James, Jamie Pitman, Guy Ipoua, Adam Stansfield, Alex Jeannin and Stacy Coldicott all miss the game, and Danny Carey-Bertram is said to be a doubt.

However Turner doesn't seem unduly worried as long as the visit of Sky doesn't affect his young squad.

"I'm not totally unhappy with what I'm putting out at the moment. There is terrific enthusiasm there but the big question for the young players is it's a big game with the presence of the television cameras - they have got to be able to handle everthing that goes with Monday night's game.

"I'll back the youngsters to do that."

Turner was also quoted in the Non-League Paper with similar thoughts.

"With the younger element in the side, they maybe do not have that composure and steel about them to see out the ninety minutes, but on the other hand you get a lot of energy, a lot of effort and at times some very good play.

"So you balance one up against the other and I think we have been doing extremely well because we have been missing a lot of experienced players."

Stevenage Borough will be without Jon Nurse for the game.

"Jon could be out long term," said Westley. "He's been playing with a little niggle for a while now. It's a blow and disappointing for him because he's been in brilliant form."

Stevenage are also expected to be without Luke Oliver (ankle ligament) and Barry Laker (jaw), goalkeeper Shane Gore and former Hereford United player Danny Williams.

Darren Stamp and Michael Warner had knocks at Stevenage's game against Canvey Island last Tuesday. Warner is said to be unlikely to play.

Boro defender, Ronnie Henry, thinks his side are good enough to play in the League and are looking to win every game ahead of them.

"Hereford is a very important game and we need to beat them to stay in a good position," he told the Non-League Paper.

The Hereford midfielder Craig Stanley summed up the importance of the game to the NLP.

"Stevenage is a massive game for us. We need three points from it."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Did the Bulls get any LDV money?

Hereford United were defeated by Macclesfield Town in the Northern Semi-final of the LDV four weeks ago and should have received some £12,000 for their efforts.

The prize money is this competition works in such a way that clubs only receive a pay-out when they are defeated (until the final stages).

But there are fears that the Bulls have not received any money from the sponsors and probably never will.

Ciderspace have printed the following:

With LDV Vans going into administration the sponsorship deal for that competition with the Football League has collapsed. All prize money has now been cancelled, with those defeated in the Area Semi-Finals losing £15,000,(Hereford being a Conference side should have received £12,000) and no future monies, apart from a share of gate receipts, being paid to those clubs remaining in the competition.

Presumably it will get more embarrassing still, with the Final due to be be broadcast live on Sky Sports from the Millennium Stadium on Sunday 2 April 2006. One can't imagine the Football League or the broadcasters wishing to continue promoting and advertising a company that has gone down the pan and defaulted on its commitments, so what to call it? Answers on a postcard to : The Right Honourable the Lord Mawhinney, Chairman of The Football League..

Four tough fixtures in a row

Faced with four tough fixtures in a row, Stevenage, Gravesend, Morecambe and Accrington, Graham Turner admitted to BBC Hereford and Worcester that he would like everybody fit for those games.

"But it's not going to happen and what we've got now is the experience we've had over the last two seasons where we've done ever so well late in the season in the preparation of players and the preparation of the team.

"We have to say Accrington are looking very strong. I watched them on the television against Morecambe on Monday. They won comfortably and they're going ever so well.

"We need a dramatic downturn in their form if we're going to have any chance of finishing top. But the minimum is to finish in the play-offs."

Turning to the two new players that Turner has recruited to Edgar Street, the manager spoke about both of them.

"Young Matthew Halliday from Norwich - we had their reserves watched recently and he was impressive so we brought him in.

"And eventually, when we do eventually see him, Robbie King from Colchester. Obviously there have been delays whilst they have been involved in the FA Cup. He's been in and around the first team squad - he's played several games in the first team this season. We've just had word there is a family bereavement which is holding him up coming up to us at the moment.

"So I'm not quite sure whether he will be available for Monday. We're hoping so, but in order for him to do anything he's got to come out and have a few days training with us. You can't expect a young player to turn up on our door-step and play first time without meeting the other players.

"They've both got points to prove to their existing clubs and the experience will do them the power of good.

Turner then spoke about the scouting system.

"Down the London area - Nicky Nicolau's background was Southend, before Swindon, so we've got good contacts down there now. And there is a good league that takes place down there. We've had Darren Blewitt from West Ham. We know quite a few people down there, so there are good contacts."

Stanley may go further ahead today

Accrington Stanley could increase their lead at the top of the Conference this afternoon as Hereford United do not play until Monday evening.

Today's Fixtures:

accrington stanley v burton albion
aldershot town v morecambe
canvey island v crawley town
gravesend and northfleet v scarborough
tamworth v halifax town
york city v forest green rovers

If results go against Hereford they could drop as low as fourth as both Halifax and Morecambe can move above the Bulls if they win their games.

Update 5.30pm

Hereford United dropped one place as a result of today's results. Both Accrington and Halifax won, but Morecambe lost. York improved their chances of reaching a play-off place with a 5-1 victory over Forest Green.

Top of the Table:
1 Accrington Stanley 30 27 70
2 Halifax 32 10 57
3 Hereford 29 18 54
4 Stevenage 31 13 53
5 Morecambe 32 15 51
6 York 31 17 50
7 Grays Athletic 29 14 48
8 Exeter 30 12 47

China Daily mentions Hereford

It's not every day that Hereford United, or any other Conference club for that matter, gets a mention in the China Daily.

But football is becoming more popular in the Communist country and much more space is becoming devoted to the subject in their newspapers.

The paper previews tomorrow's Carling Cup clash between Wigan and Manchester United and in the feature given a potted history of Wigan's rise from non-league football to the Premiership.

As ever the meeting between the two clubs which produced the biggest gate between two non-league sides is noted.

They (Wigan) even held Newcastle to a draw at St James' Park in 1954 before losing the replay 3-2 in a campaign that saw a crowd of 27,526 watch them beat fellow non-league side Hereford.

Is there anywhere left in the world yet to hear about Hereford United?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sky good for Conference says Turner

Despite having to play on Monday evening instead of tomorrow (Saturday), Hereford United's manager Graham Turner is pleased that the game is being televised by Sky.

"It just changes the week for us and we will train over the weekend and get prepared as well as we can for the game against Stevenage," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"It's interesting having the Sky cameras down here, the game has been moved because of their presence and I think it's a terrific thing - the exposure and high profile that live coverage gives a Conference club. We're delighted to have them here.

"We've been on several live games this season, quite a number over the last two or three seasons. Compare that to some of the sides in the Second Division, some of them haven't had a live game for years.

"I think Sky get it reasonably cheaply. I don't think we earn a great deal of money from it but when you look at the exposure for our advertisers, our sponsors plus the heightened profile of the football itself, it does the Conference the world of good."

Conference News Round-Up

Cambridge boss Rob Newman rounded on his older players, including on loan Bull Stacy Coldicott, after their 2-0 loss to Burton: "They're senior players, but if they're not good enough and they haven't got the fight for it then I'd rather put the young ones back on the pitch. They'll give you enthusiasm and honesty, and sometimes out there I think there was a lack of honesty and passing of responsibility."

Aldershot have come to terms for the release of defender Tarkan Mustafa. The 32 year old failed to settle after a move from Hornchurch, and last played for the Shots in October. Mustafa will now be able to sign for any club below Conference level, with his former Hornchurch and Dagenham boss Gary Hill now likely to make a move to bring him to Weymouth. Aldershot boss Terry Brown has told his remaining players that they are playing for their futures at the Recreation Ground.

Burton are bracing themselves for the departure of manager Nigel Clough. Notts Forest Chairman Nigel Doughty has indicated that they will wait until the summer to name their new manager, with the under contract Clough top of the list.

Gravesend are considering a name change to Ebbsfleet FC. Ebbsfleet will be the name of the Channel Tunnel rail station due to open in 2007, with over 3,000 accompanying houses also planned for the site on top of thousands of homes already built in the area.

Grays home match with Exeter has been moved from Saturday 8th April to Monday 10th April for Sky Sports coverage.

Bailey moves again

Matt Bailey, who came to Edgar Street on-loan from Crewe earlier this season before falling out with Graham Turner, is on the move again according to the Altrincham Official Website.

Former Alty loan player Matt Bailey has joined Lancaster City from Southport, where he had been on loan from Crewe

Also moving is John Williams, the flying postman, who has joined Weston-super-mare from Evesham. Weston are also trying to sign Brian Tinnion.

Turner has to rely on youth

With at least five of the squad unavailable for the Stevenage game on Monday, Graham Turner will have to hope that his younger players can cope.

"You think of Tony James, Jamie Pitman, Guy Ipoua, Stacy Coldicott recovering from his injury, and now Alex Jeannin's suspended for four matches, so that's a big chunk of our experienced players missing," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"The youngsters did ever so well for us (against Aldershot last Tuesday) and we now got two nineteen year-olds up front who played exceptionally well in the first half and got a goal each.

"Even with the rest of the side there is not an awful lot of experience in there but what we had was terrific enthusiasm. That was there in adundance and I think we got the rewards for that."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two Inspections at Edgar Street

To be able to join the Football League, Hereford United must have two inspections according to Graham Turner.

The first inspection by the Football League at Edgar Street has already taken place but the second is yet to take place. This time the inspection will be by the Football Licensing Authority which will also include the police, the environmental officer from the local authority, our safety officer and officials from the club.

Turner told the Hereford Times about the first visit.

"Following interviews in the boardroom, a contingent from the Football League went out with tape measures to carry out a thorough inspection of the ground, including measuring dressing rooms, the pitch size and the distance between the touch-lines and the perimeter wall.

"We have to produce a structural engineer's report on the state of the ground and there is an electrical inspection of floodlighting and power, as well as all the other technical and legal aspects, including the leases."

It is the issue of the leases that could hold matters up.

"We are seeking an urgent resolution of the leases issue. While we believe we have plenty of time to sort it all out, nonetheless we cannot afford to waste that time. And that is one aspect that is out of our hands," continued Turner.

"In the meantime, discussions continue with our development partners, the Richardsons, and, although it seems a long drawn out procedure, we would hope over the next few months that some announcement over future plans can be made."

Stansfield likely to be out for six weeks

Graham Turner has confirmed that Adam Stansfield is likely to be out for six weeks.

"Immediately after the game he was taken to Southend Hospital. He was discharged only to come back and make sure he got a specialist look at his face," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester this morning.

"It's a depressed fracture of the cheekbone. The swelling has got to go down before the surgery can be carried out. But it looks as though he will have to have a plate inserted in the depressed fracture of the cheek."

Exeter Follow Bulls Youth Policy

Exeter will copy the Bulls youth side setup next season, in a partnership with Exeter College.

The Bulls link up with Pershore College on the PASE scheme has already reaped rewards with Andy Williams coming through the first crop of youngsters, and several other players including Sam Gwynne have featured in the first team for HFA cup matches.

Exeter, who are due to lose a £62,000 grant at the end of the season if they fail to return to the Football League, decided to end their youth policy due to the cost despite the number of graduates currently plying their trade in the Grecians senior squad.

York Face Cash Crisis

York City face a cash crisis after defaulting on the first installment of a £2million Football Foundation loan.

The initial £100,000 repayment has not appeared, and Football Foundation chiefs have already called a meeting with club officials to explain the problem. The loan, granted in 2003 to help the Supporters Trust buy the stadium, contains a clause requiring the club to move to a new stadium within 10 years. Should the move be made, the loan would become a grant on the new stadium.

At the Supporters Trust AGM in December Jason McGill, York's Managing Director and only major shareholder apart from the Trust, assured reporters that plans were in place to pay the first installment in time.

Now McGill and his family, whose company JM Packaging has already loaned the club £300,000 which is to be repaid in less than a year, have made an offer to cover this seasons debts for a chunk of the 85% shareholding the Supporters Trust have.

City director Jason McGill said: "There are three considerations for the club to move forward which is sorting out the £300,000 loan, finding funding until the end of the season and considering how we go forward in the future. The fundamental issue is that York City Football Club is at present under-funded."

The Supporters Trust, who include Jason's sister Sophie on their board, are due to meet to discuss the offer soon.

Ipoua To Miss Stevenage Match?

Today's Hereford Times reports that Guy Ipoua will be one of a number of players to miss Monday's televised Conference clash with Stevenage.

Ipoua, who has missed five matches since limping out of the Conference match with Grays after half an hour, was expected to be fit for Tuesday's win over Aldershot according to the Official website and had previously travelled to Canvey on Saturday.

However the Hereford Times has named five players - Alex Jeannin, Tony James, Jamie Pitman, Adam Stansfield and Ipoua - who are all to miss the Stevenage match. Pitman, who has missed six games, is expected back in training next week.

The predicted first choice strike pair, Stansfield and Ipoua, have played together just six times this season and Andy Williams has clocked up more time on the pitch than either of them.

Miller doesn't rate Hereford

In advance of Monday's showdown between Hereford United and Stevenage Borough, Adam Miller who recently joined the Hertfordshire club from QPR has told the Comet that he doesn't think Hereford United are the team they used to be.

"I'm really looking forward to playing the big guns like Hereford and Exeter.

"I don't feel Hereford are the team they were - like when I played against them for Aldershot - and are there for the taking.

"All the lads want to play in the League and I feel my best chance at the moment of getting back there is with Boro."

"We're getting stronger and focused on what we need to do to keep winning. The team spirit is great, especially after 10 points from our last four games."

Thoughts from the Boss

Glynis Wright braved the cold to watch Hereford United against Aldershot and also found out why Bulls supporter and quiz-master Nick Brade missed the game.

It being Tuesday, and Hereford hosting Aldershot Town at Edgar Street that night, my other half then decided it was his bounden duty to take me to said game - something about 'helping my back pain ease off', or words to that effect. 'Tis true my lumbar vertebrae were giving me gyp something rotten that night, but I'd not ever considered a 50-mile car journey particularly therapeutic in that respect. 'Oh well, what the hell?.' thought I at first - but I have to say, I did eventually find the whole shebang quite fascinating in its own way.

How come? Well, it's not every day you see an entire Meadow End - Edgar Street's answer to The Brummie - making out like a Mexican mariachi band with the safety valve well and truly left off, is it? As much as a freezing-cold February evening would allow them, that was. Not a bad difference from the sun-drenched main squares of Tijuana and Acapulco, and not a single trumpet to be either seen or heard, either, human vocal chords and lung-power, plus a smidgen of pretty good imagination, making the final difference, but the end result pretty good, I have to say.

But that wasn't all; in the away end were, I'd say, around a hundred or so Shots followers, and their motivational technique of choice completely different. Flags in quantity, red and blue banners everywhere, and just to put the cherry on top of the icing, so to speak, the drums - especially the drums! Two 'artistes' that night, both at it like things high on crack cocaine; what with that and the colourful background, the entire scene vaguely reminiscent of some pre-war SS Stormtrooper rally gone completely out of hand. The overall effect? Lively, shall we say! Judging by the animated way Aldershot's 'percussion section' were going at it, I could only assume that at some point or other on the long homeward journey, some sympathetic coach steward would be doling out headache pills like candy to headache suffers, of whom there must have been plenty by then..

The game? Well, 'Im Indoors was mightily pleased: The Bulls' 2-1 win that evening plonked them nicely into joint second place, the Conference leaders having well and truly romped over the hills and far away ages ago. Not much good for automatic promotion purposes, is Hereford's win, sadly - only one goes up as of right, the next four down having to thrash it out between themselves via the play-offs - but much better than a poke in the eye, I suppose. Actually, it all started quite brightly for The Bulls, when Andy Williams - no, before you ask, he wasn't crooning "You're Just too Good To Be True" as he let fly from about six yards out - put them ahead around five or so minutes into the game, the second in that brace coming on the half-hour mark, a new chap called Fleetwood doing the damage this time. Well, he certainly did what it said on the tin - nominative determinism rules at Edgar Street, OK?

It would have been nice reporting everything was hunky-dory for Hereford after that, but it wasn't. Their strikers had come up with the goods, but after going two up, their entire midfield then decided to go AWOL en-masse, an act of extreme folly that left their rump somewhat exposed. Talk about giving 'swimming through a vat of black treacle' impersonations, and becoming suddenly 'deaf-mute' when finding themselves entangled in sticky situations in and around the box, which was somewhat too frequently for comfort. No surprise, then, when the visitors managed to get one back midway through the second half, and from then on in, things started to get a bit sweaty for 'Im Indoors's zoider zlurpin' cobbers, but they did emerge triumphant in the end, I'm glad to report. Oh - and talking of things all sweaty and 'orrible, a certain prominent Supporters Club chappie by the name of Nick Brade was particularly conspicuous by his absence from the ground that night. Quelle horreur, and all that jazz!

So, where was he, then? Exhaustive enquiries - well, I did ask his mum shortly before kick-off, does that count? - rapidly revealed him to be suffering from some sort of horrible shivery sweaty-awfuls, and not a fit sight for neither man nor beast to contemplate at length, apparently, a distinctly-lamentable state of affairs that quickly led me to speculate out loud as to whether or not the lad had contracted bird flu, and if that was indeed the case, when could I conveniently call round to his place to do a spot of 'culling'? Mind you, illness seemed to be particularly in vogue that evening, also missing from roll-call was The Noise's Herefordian alter ego, 'Talking Bill'. He's also a bit under the weather, so I'm told. What the hell do they do for recreation down there, I wonder - culture viruses purely for fun?

Merson Joins Tamworth

Former England international Paul Merson will join Tamworth today for the rest of the season, and is expected to play in Saturday's match with Halifax.

Merson, 37, was sacked as manager by Walsall two weeks ago and was immediately chased by a string of clubs for his playing services. Notts Forest were favourites for his signature until Gary Megson was sacked last week.

In other Conference transfer news, Cambridge have added Lincoln defender Matt Bloomer on loan for the rest of the season. Bloomer has played just seven times for Lincoln this season, and has just returned from a loan spell from Grimsby. Altrincham have allowed midfielder James Robinson to take up an offer to play in Australia. The former Accrington man scored four times in 13 appearances for Alty.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blewitt on trial at Oxford

Darren Blewitt, who was with Hereford United for much of the first half of this season, is having a trial at Oxford United.

According to the Official Oxford United website they will look at Blewitt this afternoon as they play Luton Town at Kenilworth Road in the Pontin's Holidays Combination.

Centre half Darren Blewitt is a 20 year old defender who came through the ranks at West Ham and has had loan spells at Southend and Hereford. Six feet two tall, Darren is a commanding centre half.

Preview: Bulls vs Stevenage

The Bulls entertain Stevenage for the ninth time in a league fixture, but are looking for only their second home win in those games.

That win came in January 2004, when a late Paul Parry goal finished the only double the Bulls have ever done over Stevenage. Last season the sides swapped 1-0 away wins in league games, Adam Stansfield getting the Bulls goal at Broadhall Way, but Stevenage edged the play-off matches with another 1-0 win at Edgar Street.

Sky cameras make the visit to Edgar Street for the two year anniversary of a previous Bulls live Sky match. On February 27th, 2004, the Bulls smashed nine past Dagenham. Only five players remain of that sixteen man squad and one now plays for Stevenage. Danny Williams swapped Herefordshire for Hertfordshire in the summer but has struggled with tendonitis for most of the season, starting only three games for his new side and last playing three weeks ago in a 10 minute subs appearance.

Hereford United vs Stevenage Boro, Edgar Street, Monday 27th Feb, 7.45pm, Live on Sky Sports.

Crawley Soap Opera Continues

New faces, a stabbing, and an unfair dismissal claim...

Crawley's squad list now totals 31 players after adding striker Gavin Gordon, released by Notts County last month, and Crystal Palace goalkeeper Chris Banks on work experience to the squad this week. Crawley have used 33 players already this season.

Striker Omari Coleman, the former Aldershot loanee who was reported to have flu at the weekend, has now been confirmed as the victim of a stabbing outside a Croydon nightclub.

Meanwhile, former manager Francis Vines is claiming £109,000 compensation from the club after his dismissal. Crawley are no better off under the new management than before his sacking. Vines collected just 13 points in 14 games, but the club have gained just 12 points from 14 games since.

First half performance gave Bulls win

John Trewick, the Hereford United coach, spoke to BBC Hereford and Worcester after last nights game with Aldershot. He said that the first half performance gave the Bulls an important win.

"2-0 at half-time and possibly might have been more, could have put the game beyond doubt, but as we all know in football two goals often isn't enough.

"It's a vunerable type lead because if the opposition get one it really gets their tails up and they can come at you."

Meanwhile Craig Stanley is hopeful the Bulls can still catch Accrington Stanley.

"Hopefully by the time Accrington come to Edgar Street in March we will have eaten into their lead," Stanley told the Western Daily Press.

"We have only lost one more game than Accrington but all credit to them they have opened up a good lead on us."

Finally, Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, gave these comments to the official Aldershot Website.

"After having everything go against us in the first half I thought we responded well after the break. The two goals were again soft and knocked the stuffing out of us. At half time we were left with the scenario that we had to attack to try to get something out of the match and that is what we did. We had to go for it and we did. We have to do that against Morecambe and Accrington becuase there is not a defensive formation I can put out there at the moment that is not going to concede goals.

Nikki Bull said before the game that every time we come here we concede a soft goal in the first five minutes and every time they go to Aldershot we concede a wonder goal early on. They certainly have the kiss of death over us because at the end I thought that we deserved something out of the game".

Night Of A Thousand Armchairs

It wasn't just the Bulls that suffered at the turnstile last night.

Kidderminster recorded their lowest gate of the season, 1302, as did York, 2153, while Forest Green recorded their second lowest gate at 582. Most home sides recorded a 300-400 lower gate than their last home match.

Only Altrincham recorded an above-average attendance, but were still down on the previous attendance if only by a handful. The figures show that the blank Tuesday nights in September and October could have been better used for these fixtures rather than the cold nights and European knock-out stages on offer last night.

The next European night, the second leg of the last 16, takes place on March 7/8th. Thankfully for the gate receipts, the Bulls are on the road to Gravesend this time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Disappointing gate last night

The attendance at Edgar Street for the visit of Aldershot Town was the lowest for a game between these two clubs for several seasons.

It didn't help that the Arsenal game was on TV and it was cold but Hereford are in the play-offs and Aldershot usually try to play attractive football.

The two games this season have produced gates of 2205 at Edgar Street and 2656 at the Rec. Both were played on Tuesdays.

Last season there were 3647 at Edgar Street and 3749 at the Rec. The game at Edgar Street was also on a Tuesday but the return was a Saturday fixture.

It is unclear why both games this season were Tuesday evening fixtures unless the Police were concerned of possible problems. It may have cost both clubs several thousand in gate receipts.


Club sources say the Police asked for the game to be played on a Tuesday night.

Coldicott Subbed Again

Stacy Coldicott, on loan at Cambridge United, was subbed after 62 minutes of their 2-0 defeat at Burton.

Coldicott, who was subbed after 78 minutes on Saturday, was again taken off for tactical reasons rather than injury. He has started all three matches for his temporary side, and is expected to be in the side for the last game of his months loan against Woking on March 4th.

Bulls now second in League

Hereford United moved in front of Morecambe this evening having defeated Aldershot 2-1.

But shock of the evening was the 4-0 defeat of Grays Athletic by Dagenham in front of just 1065 spectators.

Halifax are now in third with the same number of points as Hereford but a poorer goal difference. They beat Altrincham 2-1. Stevenage move up to fourth with their 3- 0 win against Canvey Island.

Top of the Conference:

1 Accrington Stanley 29 26 67
2 Hereford 29 18 54
3 Halifax 31 9 54
4 Stevenage 31 13 53
5 Morecambe 31 17 51
6 Grays Athletic 29 14 48
7 York 30 13 47
8 Exeter 30 12 47
9 Woking 29 15 44

The goals from the game at Edgar Street have been shown on Sky this evening and also from the Stevenage game.

Youngsters do the double for United

A first half double from the youthful front pairing of Andy Williams and Stuart Fleetwood was enough for Hereford United to complete their, now traditional, seasonal double over Aldershot Town. The United starting eleven held two changes from the one that started against Canvey Island on Saturday, with the suspended Alex Jeannin being replaced by Simon Travis and Daryl Taylor deputising for Adam Stansfield, with Williams moving into the attack. Matt Halliday was named on the bench.

United were ahead within three minutes, a whole extra minute than it took for them to take the lead at The Rec last September. Fleetwood was the producer, as he played the ball into space and left the Shots' defence for dead, before crossing for Williams, who made no mistake with a shot into the roof of the net. Hereford had set a tone for the rest of the half with this opening, and could have doubled the lead minutes later. Nicky Nicolau found space on the left and crossed to the far post where both Craig Stanley and Taylor awaited. It was the latter who met the ball, but skied embarrassingly when unmarked.

Aldershot didn't force a save out of Wayne Brown until after the restart but Tamika Mkandawire needed to be alert to head a dangerous cross, that was flicked on, by Ryan Williams behind for a corner. United though, were again threatening following a good break down the right that saw Taylor's cross fall to Andy Williams, but he fired wide of the far post. However, it was not long before The Bulls found the net again and Fleetwood was again the main man involved.

Travis took a throw in on the left and Fleetwood held off Greg Heald and ran clear into the box. Nicki Bull came out to meet him but Fleetwood kept his composure and slotted into the back of the net with just under half an hour on the clock. Fleetwood and Williams were again linking up well but this time Williams' awesome shot from twenty five yards was tipped over the bar by Bull. The half came to a close following four successive corners for Hereford. Mkandawire came close on the third, forcing a good low save from Bull after Fleetwood had crossed and Dean Beckwith headed just wide on the final corner, which was delivered by Nicolau.

The second half though, was not as easy going for United as Aldershot began to gamble more men forward and gradually took control of the midfield area which Andy Ferrell had mastered so well in the first period. The goal though, on the hour mark, came some-what out of nothing, as United seemed to be under no real threat with the Meadow End in full voice behind them.

Ryan Williams had crossed too far, but Hassan Sulaiman collected on the bye line. He was given too much time to pick out Gary Holloway who headed, unopposed, into the back of the net from close range for 2-1. Graham Turner reacted by bringing on Rob Purdie for Daryl Taylor, who'd been quite annonymous in the second half and Purdie was quick to contribute with some decent set-piece deliveries. It was his corner that almost led to a third goal for Hereford, but Mkandawire's header rebounded off the crossbar before Stanley saw a long range effort well held by Bull.

Fleetwood and Williams were again causing problems for the visitors defence as the former found the latter with a ball from the right, and Williams took a touch as his marker took a tumble, but Williams' early effort, when now one on one, was dragged wide of the mark. The latter stages of the game saw Aldershot really push for the equaliser, setting up a nervy finish for the hosts. Holloway had ambitiously hooked over with a bicycle kick in the 89th minutes, but the real scare came in the third and final minute of injury time. After gaining possession back off Hereford, who'd run time down in the corner, Aldershot raced forward and found themselves with three attackers against two defenders. Ryan Williams found Leroy Griffiths with a through-ball, but Brown was quickly out and blocked the shot.

So United held on for the vital three points that takes them back into second place in the Conference. It has to be said that man of the match Fleetwood and Andy Williams linked up very well and luckily the absence of Adam Stansfield did not have as much of an effect on the team as his return from injury had earlier in the season. The crowd of 2,205, including 127 away fans, made for a very good atmosphere at Edgar Street and hopefully the Sky TV camera's will not affect the attendance too much next Monday, when Stevenage Borough are the visitors.

HUFC: Brown, Green, Beckwith, Mkandawire, Travis, Nicolau, Ferrell, Stanley, Taylor, Fleetwood, Williams. Subs: Halliday, Mawson, Gwynne, Purdie, Carey-Bertram.

ATFC: Bull, Hamilton, Brough, Heald, Barnard, Sulaiman, Somner, Holloway, Williams, Dixon, Griffiths.Subs: Weait, Elphick, Hudson, Jinadu, Salmon.

Bulls WIn Game Of Two Halves

The Bulls edged past Aldershot in a game of two halves.

Hereford could have been four up at half time with only keeper Nikki Bull stopping the score going past two, but the second half was a different story with the Bulls stalling for the final whistle throughout most of the last 20 minutes.

Stuart Fleetwood produced both goals, and a man of the match performance.

Full report later.

Trewick speaks about Stansfield's injury

John Trewick, the Hereford United coach, has spoken to the Worcester News about the injury to Adam Stansfield which is expected to keep him out of the side for much of the rest of the season.

"It's not a nice situation for Adam. It is also not a nice situation for us. We've now lost our top goalscorer for a lengthy period of time.

"It's something we could do without and it's the second time this season that it's happened to Adam.

"Normally, with a fractured cheekbone, you are looking at a minimum six weeks before a return.

"Our last league game of the season is on April 29, so we are hoping he will be back just before then. We'll have to wait and see."

As regards the line-up for this evening Trewick said there were several choices.

"We've got one or two options and they will be considered in the build-up.

"We must also accommodate the loss of Alex (Jeannin). He's been virtually ever-present all season and takes set-pieces. He is a regular and vital member of the side, so we will miss him.

"Alex got booked for actually winning the ball, as far as I'm concerned. He protested too strongly and there is no defence for that. The referee was within his rights to send him off."

Team News: Bulls vs Aldershot

The Bulls will be missing six players for tonights match. Jamie Pitman, Tony James, Danny Carey-Bertram and Adam Stansfield will all miss out with injuries, while Alex Jeannin begins his four game ban and Stacy Coldicott is out on loan. Simon Travis will replace Jeannin in defence, and Guy Ipoua is optimistic of replacing Stansfield after injury. New signings Robbie King and Matthew Holliday are likely to be on the bench after arriving on Monday.

Aldershot welcome back Darren Barnard from suspension but lose Ryan Scott on a one match ban, and experienced midfielders Steve Watson and Nick Crittenden are both facing late fitness tests.

Norwich report Halliday switch

Norwich City has reported that Matthew Halliday has joined Hereford United but there appears to be some uncertainty how long the deal is for. The Norwich website suggests the deal is only for a week.

CITY scholar Matthew Halliday has joined Nationwide Conference play-off hopefuls Hereford United on work experience for a week.

The 19-year-old central defender will train all week with The Bulls, currently third in the Conference table, and is available for tonight's home game against Aldershot at Edgar Street.

Academy Manager Ricky Martin said the week with Hereford would be good experience for the third year scholar. He told First News: "A scout spotted Matthew playing in the Reserves' recent win over Watford. This week of work experience will hopefully prove useful in his on-going development as a player."

Yesterday the Official Hereford United website reported the signing of both Halliday and Robbie King of Colchester but the item didn't say how long the deals would last.

Hereford United FC are pleased to announce two new additions to the squad, signed on a Work Experience basis.

Southern Counties Radio for coverage of tonights game

Southern Counties Radio will have internet coverage of tonight's game between Hereford United and Aldershot which kicks-off at 7.45pm.

There is an easy link to the station on (one of the Aldershot sites)

BBC Hereford and Worcester will have updates on 94.7FM.

Wright Returns To Chester

Mark Wright has returned to Chester as manager until the end of the season.

In a shock move with fans choosing another ex-Chester manager, Graham Barrow, as their favoured candidate, Wright has signed a deal barely 18 months after an acrimonious departure from the Deva Stadium.

Back then, Chairman Stephen Vaughan accused Wright of signing players to large contracts without board approval and forcing the budget beyond acceptable levels, leading to Wright quitting before a league match was played. It now appears that Vaughan has changed his mind on the manager, though the disasterous run under Keith Curle, where Chester won just three points in 36, has seen them drop to just four points above the relegation zone.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Brown previews Hereford game

The Aldershot manager, Terry Brown, has given his view on tomorrow's game at Edgar Street to the Shots Official Website.

"This is a daunting challenge and we have a tough schedule coming up with matches against Morecambe and Accrington Stanley due too. I don't expect any favours off of Hereford.

"I still believe that on their day they are the best footballing side in the division. We must not allow them to play football. I am not going their with any negativity though. We have a positive plan.

"I do have some injury concerns over two or three senior players and we also have Ryan Scott suspended but Darren Barnard will return after serving his suspension.

"I want to stop the rot of successive away defeats. I want to come away knowing that we have given a good account of ourselves and, of course, picked up some points".

Gap widens to 16 Points

The gap between Accrington Stanley and Hereford United is now 16 points as Stanley defeated second-placed Morecambe 2-0 this evening.

The Bulls stay in third place although now with the same goal difference as Morecambe. However the Bulls have scored nine less goals than the Shrimps.

Top of the Conference:
1 Accrington Stanley 29 26 67
2 Morecambe 31 17 51
3 Hereford 28 17 51
4 Halifax 30 8 51
5 Stevenage 30 10 50
6 Grays Athletic 28 18 48
7 Exeter 29 13 47
8 York 29 12 44

It will be a tough one says Turner

Aldershot Town are the visitors to Edgar Street tomorrow evening for a Conference League game, kick-off 7.45pm.

The Shots started the season with a poor run of results but then appeared to improve. However recently their form has dipped with just two points from their last five games.

Last Saturday they were held at home 1-1 by Burton Albion, and now lie 16th in the League Table.

However the Hereford United manager, Graham Turner, isn't taking anything for granted.

"It's usually a good game. I think that Aldershot have been a decent side over the last couple of seasons, but not done so well this season. Again it will be a tough one."

Aldershot have some players unlikely to feature. Midfielder Darren Barnard returns after serving a suspension but Steve Watson (head wound) and Nick Crittenden (knee) are doubtful.

Midfielder Ryan Scott definitely misses out as he is serving a one-match ban.

Hereford will miss Adam Stansfield up-front and also both Jamie Pitman and Tony James, but the squad will be bolstered by the addition of youngsters Matthew Halliday and Robbie King who joined the Bulls earlier today. Alex Jeannin is out because of suspension.

It is uncertain whether either of the two youngsters will be in tomorrow's squad as they will have had little time to get to know their team-mates. However with the loss of both Stansfield and Jeannin, Graham Turner will have to reshuffle the line-up and should neither Guy Ipoua and Danny Carey-Bertram make the squad, then the new signings could be called upon. However there seems a good chance Ipoua will make the squad. He travelled with the team to Canvey last weekend and took part in the warm-up.

Andy Williams is expected to partner Stuart Fleetwood up-front.

Likely Line-up: Brown, Green, Mkandwire, Beckwith, Travis, Purdie, Stanley, Ferrell, Nicolau, Williams, Fleetwood.

Bench: Mawson, Taylor, Ipoua, Gwynne, and possibly one of the new signings.

Conference News Round-Up

York have signed former Wrexham and Darlington midfielder Steve Thomas after a successful trial. The 26 year old left Darlington during the transfer window after making just seven appearances this season. Tamworth have signed a pre-contract agreement with former Celtic striker Tommy Johnson, who will sign in the summer from Scunthorpe. The Lambs are, however, attempting to reach agreement with Scunthorpe to get Johnson earlier. Kidderminster have extended the contract of Russ Penn. The youth team product has become a regular fixture in the side since returning from a loan spell in November. Morecambe have confirmed that they have also been inspected by the Football League for promotion, and are awaiting the report.

Robbie King and Matthew Halliday

Below are profiles of the two new signings at Hereford United:

Robbie King from Colchester United: (from official Colchester Website)

Date of Birth: 01-10-86
Height: 5ft 11in
Weight: 12st 5lbs
Position: Midfielder

Combative midfielder who currently captains the club's youth team. Led his young team-mates to the Quarter Finals of the FA Youth Cup in 2004/5 and has been a regular traveller with the U's first team squad during the course of the current campaign.

Robbie is another of the youth team products that has made an impression on the first team substitutes' bench during the course of the season. The skipper of the U's junior team, he has regularly trained with the first team and he will be hoping to make his debut in 2005/06.

He has made three sub appearances for the first team this season.

Matthew Harding from Norwich: (From The Pink'Un)

Position: Defender
Date of Birth: 23rd January 1987
Home town: Gorleston

Matthew is a third year scholar at the club and he first made an impact with City when he was part of the Northern Ireland Milk Cup winning team in 2001, forming a good partnership with fellow second year scholar Jake Osborne.

He is a tall solid defender with a great attitude, and also can play on the deck with a good passing ability. Matthew has recently begun to feature in the reserves and his development over the next few years will be monitored closely.

Halliday played for the Norwich U18's on Saturday in their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace U18's.

Bulls bolster squad for run in

Hereford United have added two players to their injury hit side ready for the season run-in, reports the Hereford United Official Website. Robbie King, a 19 year-old centre midfielder from Colchester United has signed as has centre back Matthew Halliday, from Norwich City.

Both players have signed on a work experience basis. King is currently captain of Colchesters youth side and has appeared in the successful first team three times to date, this season. King is 5 ft 11" and weighs 12st 5lbs. He comes in for cover as Jamie Pitman remains on the sidelines and Stacy Caldicott is out on loan gaining some match fitness at Cambridge United.

Halliday will act as cover at the back as Tony James remains injured and United had not replaced Darren Blewitt, whose loan ended at the start of the year. The signing of a defender comes at a convenient time, as Alex Jeannin must serve a four-match ban.

Accrington-Morecambe On Sky Tonight

Sky Sports 1 will show live coverage tonight of what is now a top two Conference clash.

Morecambe moved second on goal difference as the Bulls drew at Canvey. Of particular interest to Bulls fans will be the performances of Stanley's ex-Bulls, Andy Tretton and David Brown.

Tretton has spent most of the season out injured, and only made his debut for Accrington at the end of January, but has started the last two games. Brown has scored seven in 24 appearances this season, but has been mainly used from the subs bench recently.

The game kicks off at 7.45pm, with the programme starting at 7.30pm.

Jeannin to miss four matches

According to The FA, Hereford full back Alex Jeannin will miss four matches through suspension. He has been given a two match ban for the red card against Canvey and has also been given a further two game ban for his 10 yellow cards accumulated throughout the season. He will miss the Aldershot, Stevenage, Morecambe and Gravesend games.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Report from the Times

This slightly edited report comes from this morning's Times.

Misfortune hampers Hereford by Mark Venables

GRAHAM TURNER, THE Hereford United manager, must be wondering who he has offended after the misfortune his team endured on Saturday.

It was bad enough that they let two points slip away, with a dubious penalty and what appeared a good goal ruled out for offside, allowing Accrington Stanley to stretch their Nationwide Conference lead to 13 points. But of more concern will be the horrendous facial injury suffered by Adam Stansfield and the dismissal of Alex Jeannin, which will lead to the full back missing at least four matches.

Stuart Fleetwood gave Hereford the lead after 15 minutes, slotting past Richard McKinney after a back-heel from Nicky Nicolau. But within three minutes Canvey Island were level, Neil Gregory converting a penalty after the assistant referee had spotted an infringement by Tamika Mkandawire. "The penalty was innocuous," Turner said.

Stansfield was floored on 38 minutes by what Turner called a "reckless challenge" from John Kennedy. The striker was carried off and is expected to have an operation for a depressed fracture to his cheekbone and damage to his eye socket. Stansfield missed most of the early part of the season with a hamstring injury and is no stranger to serious injury in his five years in the Conference; he suffered a serious broken leg in the first match of Yeovil Town's championship winning season in 2002.

Jeannin added to Turner's woes. Having received a yellow card for a mistimed tackle, he vented his fury at Dean Whitestone, the referee, until the official brandished red. "I have no sympathy," Turner said.

Wright playing for Hednesford

Ian Wright, the former Hereford United captain, is playing at Hednesford after coming out of retirement reports the Non-League Paper.

Wright moved from Edgar Street to Burton Albion but his time there was cut short when an injury to his right ankle meant he had to have two operations.

"The doctors told me I should stop playing or I wouldn't be able to walk in ten years' time," said Wright who lives near Hednesford and started training with them last autumn. When hit by injuries, he agreed to help and play for them.

"Hednesford asked if I would help them over their crisis. I agreed and the ankle stood up all right so there were no problems."

Wright has started nine times for the club since his return to the game.

Conference News Round-Up

Crawley have signed Exeter midfielder Danny Clay on loan for the rest of the season. The youth product has played just once for Exeter this season. Forest Green have taken Welsh u21 defender Byron Anthony on loan from Cardiff for a month. Anthony, capped seven times at u21 level, can play right back or in the centre. FGR have also signed Barry McConnell, the former Exeter midfielder. Halifax have resigned winger Dean Howell. Howell, who left The Shay in the summer to try his luck in the Football League, had an unsuccessful spell at Colchester and most recently was rejected by Carlisle after attempting to start a bidding war for his services.

Cambridge "Merger" Confirmed

Whilst still denying that the clubs are to merge, it has been confirmed that Cambridge City will run as Cambridge United's reserve side next season.

City will quit the Conference South in the summer and operate only their academy side in the Ridgeons league - their current reserve league. City will retain their name but play from United's Abbey Stadium.

City fans are angry that the decision appears to have been made before fans were consulted, with their Milton Road stadium being sold just weeks after fans were first warned of cash problems - suggesting the deal was already in the pipeline long before fans were informed.

Injuries and suspensions hinder Bulls challenge

With an important game on Tuesday evening at Edgar Street against Aldershot, Hereford United will be hoping that at least one of their strikers will return from injury.

Guy Ipoua travelled with the squad to Canvey Island and joined in the pre-match warm-up. But he wasn't named on the bench. And there was no sign of Danny Carey-Bertram, Hereford's other injured striker.

However Ipoua's services could be needed if the Bulls are to take three points from Aldershot on Tuesday following the horrific injury to Adam Stansfield and Stuart Fleetwood being substituted after receiving a knock.

It looks as though Andy Williams will start up-front with Fleetwood with, hopefully, Ipoua able to come on and give a different option should it be needed.

To have three of a squad's five strikers out at any one time is unusual. On top of that Ipoua is on four yellow cards, so there is the likelyhood that he will miss a game sooner or later. Had Graham Turner not signed Fleetwood, the position could be desperate for a side that is still well placed for the play-offs despite drawing yesterday.

There will also need to be other changes to the squad as Alex Jeannin is expected to miss several games after his red card yesterday. It was said on BBC Hereford and Worcester that Jeannin was already on nine yellow cards before receiving one at the Canvey game. If that is correct he will miss two games for collecting ten yellows. And there is his red card to be taken into consideration as well. This card could mean Jeannin may well miss three more games.

Simon Travis should take over Jeannin's role.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not our day with the Officials says Travis

Simon Travis gave a long and detailed interview to BBC Hereford and Worcester after the game at Canvey Island this afternoon ended in a draw. Below is a flavour of the interview.

Travis spoke about about Adam Stansfield's serious injury.

"He looks in a bad way. He looks as though he has a depressed fracture of his cheekbones. His nose is in a pretty bad state as well. We know he is in hospital at the moment. It put things into propective when you see an injury like that it's just a game of football. There are far more important things than football and three points when Adam is in such a bad way."

Travis spoke about the goals.

"It's (Hereford's) was a great move. Nicky did ever so well and it was a good finish from Stuart. Unfortunately defensive lapse and they got themselves straight back into the game within about a minute.

"It looked harsh on Tam, it looked harsh from the dug-out. Tam said he didn't touch the guy. But it's been given and we can't argue with that.

"Sometimes you get decisions, sometimes you don't. Unfortunately it's not really been our day with the officials."

Moving onto Jeannins dismissal, Travis thought the booking was harsh.

"He clearly won the ball, we could all see that. For some reason the referee first of all gave a free kick and then decided to book him. He was disappointed with what the refs decision was and he's got himself sent off.

"He's only got himself to blame really. He can't argue with that, he should have kept quiet.

"It was a bad decision from the ref in the first place. It's not gone our way today.

"I think he is on nine bookings before today. That's why we are so disappointed."

Saturday's News from Canvey Island

Saturday, February 18, 2006 - By Bobo -

Stansfield Suffers Fractured Cheekbone

Adam Stansfield faces another long spell on the sidelines after suffering a depressed cheekbone fracture in today's Conference match.

Similar injuries have generally taken up to three months to clear, making it unlikely that Stansfield will play again this season. Canvey striker Lee Boylan has missed two months so far with a similar injury. If Stansfield misses a similar length of time to Boylan, he will return for the last two Conference matches and the play-offs.

With Andy Williams being deployed on the wing again, and Danny Carey-Bertram and Guy Ipoua still struggling for fitness, the signing of Stuart Fleetwood looks an increasingly shrewd decision.


- By Bobo -

Jeannin Faces Long Suspension

Alex Jeannin faces anything up to a five match ban for his dismissal in today's match.

Jeannin was apparently sent off for arguing with the referee, initially receiving a yellow card. Reports are mixed as to whether he was given a straight red card, or a second yellow.

The first yellow was his tenth of the season, incurring a two game ban. This ban would, normally, have allowed him to play on Tuesday against Aldershot. However the red card ban is effective immediately and will be for a minimum of two additional games.

Jeannin will miss the visits of Aldershot and Stevenage, and the trips to Morecambe and Gravesend. Should the FA decide appropriately, he will also miss the home game against Accrington.


- By Bobo -

Ten Man Bulls Held By Canvey

The Bulls had Alex Jeannin sent off as they were held at Park Lane.Jeannin was booked for arguing early in the second half and was, according to radio reports, shown a straight red card for continuing his protests. The BBC text commentary suggests it was actually a second yellow. Stuart Fleetwood scored his first Conference goal before a disputed penalty given against Tamika Mkandawire leveled the scores. The Bulls are now third on goal difference from Morecambe, but remain three points inside the play-off zone.

Full Report Later.

Goals, a penalty, an injury, a red card, and three sets of fans

Hereford United dropped two vital points away at lowly Canvey Island this afternoon, but it was not just the loss of the points which will worry manager Graham Turner. The game was marred by a challenge on Adam Stansfield, that left him with a suspected fractured cheekbone. Also, the dismissal of Alex Jeannin in the second half could, in theory, lead to a five match ban.

The game took a while to produce a first effort on goal but it was the hosts who provided it, although John Keelings half volley didn't trouble. Stansfield was first to threaten for The Bulls when he latched onto Jeannin's ball in behind the defence, but the strikers effort was turned behind by a recovering centre half. However, United managed to get their noses in front soon after, and it was Stansfield's strike partner Stuart Fleetwood who broke the deadlock. Following a surging run from the ex-Cardiff City forward, he played a neat one-two with Stansfield and then placed the ball low into the back of the net, although it was helped on its way by the goalpost.

The lead was short lived though, and three minutes later The Gulls found an equaliser. Kezie Ibe had got goalside of Tamika Mkandawire, and the Bulls skipper tugged him to the ground resulting in a penalty kick for the hosts. Neil Gregory made no mistake from the spot, sending Wayne Brown the wrong way. The shock injury, inflicted by John Kennedy, meant that Rob Purdie replaced Stansfield with five normal minutes of the half remaining in which time Jeannin saw a low drive saved, Nicky Nicolau's shot needed to be tipped round the post by Richard McKinney and at the other end Brown denied Mario Noto's free kick.

United had the better of the opening exchanges in the second period, but failed to force McKinney into a save, although Andy Ferrell, instrumental throughout, was just put off enough by a defender to stop him from meeting a perfect cross from Fleetwood. Then, with eleven minutes gone of the half, Jeannin received his marching orders in rather unclear circumstances. He was firstly booked, it is assumed, for a foul, which seemed a fair enough challenge, and then was shown a straight red card for, it is thought, foul and abusive language.

Canvey now had, understandedly, renewed optimism and Noto became more and more dangerous for them. Brown had to pull off a great save to deny Noto almost immediately after the dismissal before United had the ball in the net for a second time. Craig Stanley sparked a counter attack, laying the ball into Andy Williams. He was held up by a defender but slipped the ball into Fleetwood who had the simple task of tucking the ball away beyond the reach of McKinney. However, the linesman on the far side adjudged Fleetwood to be offside and the goal did not count.

Nicolau was sacrificed as Simon Travis came on to play at left back but he gifted Noto a golden opportunity with a first, misjudged touch but luckily Noto's shot was wide. Ibe had two good chances on the turn in quick sucession, the first being superbly tipped away by Brown and the second being smashed over the bar, both from close range. Fleetwood, who took a knock from 'keeper McKinney was replaced by Daryl Taylor with eighteen minutes to go, and Williams took up the lone role in attack. Mkandawire almost made amends for giving away the penalty when he fired just wide on the turn, following Purdie's delivery while Stanley also saw a shot saved as United pushed for the winner.

And it almost came right at the death, in the three minutes of injury time. Stanley's corner from the right fell to Dean Beckwith at the far post, who smashed a half volley in from little more than five yards out, but somehow McKinney got a hand to it and diverted it over the crossbar. Still though, there was another chance for the Bulls through Andy Ferrell. In the final moments he worked himself some space twenty odd yards from goal, unleashed a powerful low effort that seemed destined for the bottom corner, but again, somehow, McKinney got his outstretched fingertips to the ball and managed to, just, turn it around the post.

So it ended a goal apeice, thanks to some stern and, at times, desperate defending by the hosts, a penalty kick, a bad injury, a sending off, and some very dubious decisions by the one linesman. The result though, pleased the majority of the crowd of 784, of which around 200 were Hereford, a very few, apparently, were Accrington Stanley, and the rest were Canvey Island fans.

HUFC: Brown, Green, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Jeannin, Williams, Ferrell, Stanley, Nicolau, Stansfield, Fleetwood. Subs: Travis, Mawson, Purdie, Taylor, Gwynne.

CIFC: McKinney, Chenery, Ward, McGhee, Duffy, Noto, Kennedy, Sedgemore, Keeling, Ibe, Gregory. Subs: Potter, Dolan, Tait, Clarke, Minton.