Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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.