Monday, March 31, 2008

News Round Up

On the pitch they face a battle tonight, but tomorrow Darlington will hear from their local Council over their £12million plans to add a sports complex, hotel, and bar to their existing site. The club have been told by planners that the scheme should be accepted, with current losses of £1.4million a year hoped to be wiped out by the plan.

Mansfield bidder John Batchelor has reacted angrily to the appointment of the town Mayor as Chairman of the club. He told The Chad: "What will the mayor bring to the club? I have other clubs wanting me to do this elsewhere. Then there comes this stupid idea to appoint the mayor and they didn't even have the courtesy to tell me about it. How to win friends and influence people is not a book Stephen Booth should write."

MK Dons are to sell tickets for their final four home games for a total of just £30 to adults in a bid to get some of the 33,000 they took to Wembley to come to home matches. The tickets, which are practically half price, include the Bulls trip to Stadium:MK on April 15th. Former Bulls keeper Ben Scott has joined up with Nicky Law at Alfreton Town. Scott was released by Hendesford last week after a two month stay at Keys Park.

Rotherham striker Chris O'Grady has confirmed he has walked out on the club as he will exercise his right to quit his contract with his wages unpaid. The club are also concerned at budgeting for the rest of the season with the Administrator budgeting for gates of 4,000 - 500 less than the pre-season expectations and 300 under the current average. Last week's home match attracted just 3,400 home fans, with under 3,000 expected for the next two games as their play-off hopes evaporated.

The Manager of the Month nominations have been made with Darren Ferguson, Paul Ince, Jim Gannon, and Alan Knill nominated. The winner will be named on Thursday. Stockport have loaned third choice keeper Chris Adamson to Northwich on emergency loan with both the Vics' keepers injured.

Crawley boss Steve Evans faces three seperate misconduct charges for an assortment of touchline dismissals over the last couple of weeks. He also had problems at Grays, with his car broken into according to local paper The Argus: "He had to drive home in the pouring rain with only a makeshift bin-liner protecting the gaping hole." No word about what he used to cover the broken window with though...

Bradford are set to break even this season for the first time in eight years. They last broke even in the Premiership, losing £1.5million over the last two years. Striker Peter Thorne has signed a new deal at the club, agreeing to a pay-cut to remain with the Bantams. Bournemouth's takeover has hit a snag after a major backer for the only bidder backed out six days before the group were due to meet creditors.

Several Bulls expected at Barnet

Several Hereford United supporters are expected to descend on Underhill tomorrow evening to support the Bees in their League Two match against fourth-placed Darlington.

Underhill is inside the M25 and the underground station just five minutes walk from the sloping ground.

Whilst Darlington are short of strikers, Barnet also have injury problems with Ian Hendon on crutches after a training ground injury last Friday. Hendon was expected to take a place in the squad in place of captain Ismail Yakubu who had a hip injury. Luckily for Barnet Yakubu is now expected to play however Kenny Gillet will miss out with a groin problem.

Match-day prices are from £13 to £20. Under 18's or students with a valid NUS card less £4 and under 12's just £5.

Latest Odds:

Barnet 13/8 Draw 12/5 Darlington 11/8

Preview: Bulls vs Westfields

The Bulls entertain Westfields in the final of the HFA Senior Cup on Tuesday night at Edgar Street (7.45pm).

The Bulls will defend their title against last season's beaten semi-finalists, and will be looking for a more comprehensive performance than the one that saw them edge past Westfields last season after extra time.

Although the final 6-1 scoreline looked flattering, at the 90 minute mark it was on 1-1 with a Stuart Fleetwood penalty being cancelled out by Dean Beckwith's own goal. A Marcus Palmer hat-trick in extra time saw the young striker elevated into the first team picture rather than a loan spell at Bath City and the Bulls went on to capture the trophy with a 3-0 victory over Ledbury.

Without a game on the weekend, the Bulls are likely to field a stronger side in anticipation of the return to League action against Chester on Saturday. Steve Guinan will likely be given a lengthy spell to prove his fitness, while Ryan Esson is expected to deputise in goal for Wayne Brown in what could be his only Bulls appearance. New signing Sammy Igoe is expected to play some part to familiarise himself with the tactics.

Westfields are currently 15th in the West Midlands League, losing to leaders Atherstone Town on Saturday 2-0. They won the HFA County Challenge Cup on the Edgar Street pitch last weekend with a 2-1 win over Pegasus Juniors, with both goals coming from corners.

Hereford United vs Westfields, Edgar Street, Tuesday April 1st, 7.45pm.

News Round Up

Darlington's Richie Foran will serve a four match ban for his sending off against Bradford at the weekend. He will miss a trio of crunch games against Chesterfield, Stockport, and the Bulls as well as tomorrow's trip to Barnet.

Mansfield have named local Mayor Tony Egginton as their new Chairman, replacing James Derry who quit last week. Egginton is one of a number of local figures to come out against John Batchelor's plans to rename the club. Batchelor has confirmed plans to mortgage the ground in order to buy it rather than plough in his own money.

Stockport's 2,000 fans that got into to Chester's ground on Saturday will get free admission to the re-arranged game. They took over two sides of the ground, and over a hundred more had to be found space in the main stand after Chester oversold the allocated areas with hundreds more locked out.

Accrington boss John Coleman has been charged with misconduct by the FA for being sent to the stands against Chesterfield. Backroom staff Jimmy Bell and Ian Liversedge have both been charged over incidents against MK Dons last week.

More League Two Action

Tommorow evening sees three huge games in League Two, all for different reasons. In the chase for automatic promotion, Darlington are in need of three points to push themselves in front of The Bulls. A home 3-1 defeat at home to Bradford has dented their chances, but they have a chance to redeem themselves at Underhill when they visit Barnet.

There are two other games, both holding huge importance. The play-off push will continue for Rochdale at home to Bradford, who also haven't given up hope of seventh place. The bottom two also meet, with Wrexham desperate for the points when they visit Mansfield. The Dragons are eight points from safety, while Town are seven points from safety. It really is a must win game for either side, with the losers surely heading to the Blue Square Premier next season.

This evening sees a Blue Square Premier clash between Forest Green and Burton live on Setanta. Former Bulls set to play include Jamie Pitman and Danny Carey-Bertram for Forest Green, and Tony James for Albion. Leading goalscorer Stuart Fleetwood is unavailable as he starts a three match ban.

From Wembley to Edgar Street for Joslin

Phil Joslin will be the referee next Saturday when Hereford United play Chester City at Edgar Street.

Yesterday Joslin took charge of the Paint Trophy final at Wembley. His decision to award a penalty to MK Dons after his assistant had flagged caused some ill-feeling from Grimsby.

"I think the linesman flagged before the penalty was given, but the referee gave the penalty anyway and bottled it," said defender Nick Fenton.

To date this season Joslin has officiated in 32 games giving out 102 yellow and 6 red cards.

The last time he refereed at Edgar Street was last April when Boston were the visitors. The Bulls won the game 3-0.

Police investigate 'exhortion' at Sun Valley

Sun Valley Foods, the chief sponsors of Hereford United, are in the headlines because of an alledged Polish Mafia gang which is terrorising their local chicken factory that supplies McDonald's. According to the Sunday Mercury three men have been charged after one worker was abducted and others viciously beaten.

The missing man has since been located in Poland where he is said to have fled to escape intimidation and threats. Detectives are set to travel to his home country to interview him.

Police now believe a number of Polish nationals with suspected underworld connections have been extorting money from Polish workers at Sun Valley Foods for several years.

It's believed hundreds - perhaps thousands - of Polish migrants who have found jobs at the factory may have been intimidated into handing over their hard-earned cash.

Detectives are focusing their inquiries on the firm because the alleged victims and suspects have all been employed by the company at some time.

One current employee suspected of being involved with the gang was arrested at the factory's Hereford headquarters in December.

Sun Valley Foods last night confirmed it was aware of the attacks on a number of employees and was helping the police with their investigation.

The alleged protection racket only came to light in December after a series of brutal attacks left several victims fighting for life.

Sources say police officers were extremely concerned by the level of violence used. All the attacks are said to have been carried out in broad daylight in front of terrified onlookers. One man suffered a fractured skull after being bludgeoned with a baseball bat.

A source said: "The police are treating this as a very serious case. The violence seemingly used in some instances was horrific. The man who was seen being bundled into a car wasn't seen by anyone who knew him in Hereford again. But police have since located him in Poland - he's said to have been so terrified he jumped straight on a plane vowing never to come back to the UK again."

The police investigation is a blow to Sun Valley Foods, which employs nearly 3,000 people in Hereford and Wolverhampton and supplies more than 80 per cent of McDonald's chicken nuggets, as well as Morrisons, Sainsbury and the Co-op.

In January the company was the subject of negative publicity when a covertly filmed video emerged in which factory-farmed chickens destined for Sun Valley Food's plant were seen struggling to walk and enduring distressing and unnatural conditions.

The animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) shot the film at Uphampton Farm in Leominster, Herefordshire, which supplies meat to Sun Valley Foods. The chicken factory immediately announced an investigation into conditions at the farm. Hereford, which has a population of 15,000, is a classic market town, quiet, respectable and conservative - an unlikely place to be the hub of an international extortion racket.

But every year hundreds of immigrants arrive there looking for work at local farms and factories. A leaked Home Office memo, written in 2006, said authorities in parts of the UK were bracing themselves for an invasion of organised crime gangs with some using children as young as 10 to carry out thefts.

Much of the ill-gotten gains are being shipped back to the criminals' country of origin.

A spokeswoman for Sun Valley Foods said last night: "Sun Valley Europe takes the welfare and safety of all employees and temporary staff very seriously. We first became aware of this issue affecting workers and a number of employers in Hereford, including some of our temporary agency workers, in December 2007.

"Sun Valley has proactively and fully supported the local police with their ongoing investigation, which is currently subject to legal proceedings. Sun Valley itself is not under investigation."

A spokesman for West Mercia Police confirmed that three men aged between 19 and 28 have been charged with conspiracy to blackmail. They are due to enter pleas at Worcester Crown Court on April 14.

Police are investigating a number of other suspects.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dons win the Paint Trophy

MK Dons won the Johnstones Paint Trophy this afternoon by 2-0. Although the Dons had the majority of possesion Grimsby held out until the 74th minute until Dons skipper Keith Andrews converted a penalty.

A header from Sean O'Hanlon sealed the victory in the 81st minute.

Dons are back in League Two action next Friday evening when they travel to Lincoln.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bulls Odds-On For Promotion... So Are Darlo!

The bookies are leaving nothing to chance with both the Bulls and Darlington still rated odds-on for promotion.

With Corals offering best odds of 1/100 on both MK Dons and Peterboro to gain promotion, the Bulls are rated as a best-price 4/7 (Tote) with Darlington slight outsiders at 5/6 (Tote, Coral). Stockport are 15/8 with Wycombe (6th, 11/4), Rochdale (8th, 13/5) and Chesterfield (7th) offered at 7/1.

The bookies feel the relegation places are sorted, with Mansfield and Wrexham both long odds-on for the drop (1/5 and 1/4). Notts County are 6/1 - along with Chester and Dagenham - for a spectacular fall with an unlikely seven points to be made up from seven and eight games respectively.

The Bulls were originally on offer at 10/1 for promotion last July, with Accrington, Barnet, and Bury the original favourites for the drop. Wrexham were expected, by the bookies, to end up 19th with Mansfield 17th - both above the Bulls expected finish of 20th.

Gleeson on bench for Stockport

Former Hereford United loanee Stephen Gleeson had to be content with a place on the bench for Stockport in their rain affected game against Chester which was called off after 60 minutes.

Paul Parry scored the only goal of the game between Cardiff and Southampton and another ex-Hereford United player Craig Stanley scored the last of five for Morecambe against cash-strapped Rotherham.

Lionel Ainsworth played most of the second half for Watford but to little avail as they were defeated 3-0 at Hull.

Rob Purdie was in the Darlington side that was defeated 3-1 by Bradford. It didn't help that Richie Foran was sent off after what was said to be a terrible lunge on former loan player Joe Colbeck. Foran is expected to miss the game against Hereford.

Speaking after the game manager Dave Penney admitted he has a striker problem at the club.

"We are very light upfront. Tommy Wrights injured, Gregg Blundell is injured, Pav's injured, Guy got injured in the warm up. So we are missing four frontline strikers and Richie is going to be suspended now so really the only striker we have got at the moment is Julian who hasn't played there for most of the season. "

League Two Results Round-Up

Peterboro go back to the top, but with MK Dons having two games in hand, with their comprehensive 4-0 thrashing of Lincoln. Darlington blew their chance to move up to third after losing 3-1 at home to Bradford. Their striker problems were compounded by Richie Foran getting himself sent off for serious foul play. Stockport stay fifth after their game with Chester was abandoned after an hour due to the weather. Chesterfield beat Dagenham 3-0 to hold onto the final play-off spot, with Rochdale's win over Brentford 2-0 keeping them within a point and virtually ending the Bees' play-off hopes.

Down the bottom, Wrexham stay bottom after a 3-2 loss at Barnet. Mansfield and Notts County shared a 0-0 draw to keep the Magpies seven points clear of the bottom two. Macclesfield move ten points clear with a 2-1 win over ten man Accrington.

In other games Morecambe beat sorry Rotherham 5-1 to keep their faint hopes of the play-offs alive, and Bury beat Shrewsbury by the only goal to guarantee their safety and condemn the Shrews to their 13th game without a win.

Top of League Two:

1 Peterborough 41 40 85
2 Milton Keynes Dons 39 39 82
3 Hereford 39 24 74

4 Darlington 40 28 73
5 Stockport 39 16 69
6 Wycombe 40 12 67
7 Chesterfield 41 18 63

8 Rochdale 38 14 62

Ten Years Ago: Better On the Pitch than Off

With no Hereford United match this weekend, Bulls News takes a look back at what was happening ten years ago.

The Bulls were coming to the end of their first year in the Conference. And whilst they weren't destined to make a quick return to the League, they were in or close to fifth position for several weeks.

This Saturday Woking were the visitors to Edgar Street and the Bulls kept up their recent good form with a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Chris Hargreaves and Richard Leadbeater. The gate was 2,281.

And in a game at Dover the following Tuesday evening youngster Gavin Williams scored his first Conference goal for the Bulls in a 1-1 draw.

Off the pitch financial matters at Edgar Street continued to hit the headlines. Striker Neil Grayson had been sold earlier in the month to Cheltenham for a reported £20,000 part of which was used to pay an outstanding electric bill.

Discussions were in progress with Formsole Limited to 'borrow' £500,000 in addition to the £500,000 already advanced by the BS Group the previous year. The reign of Peter Hill and Robin Fry wasn't quite over at Edgar Street. It soon would be.

Meanwhile in what turned out to be a shrewd investment a certain former Hereford United player had phoned William Hill giving his name and account number.

"Yes, Mr George."

"Could you give me a price on Earth Summit to win the Grand National, please?"

"Sixteen to one, Sir."

"I'll have £1,000 each way at the sixteens, please."

Ricky George had become interested in horse racing and the following Saturday, April 4th, was Grand National Day. Earth Summit won and George, with other bets and his share of the winnings, was around £100,000 better off.

April Fools Day Come Early?

That was the reaction of Radio 5live's pundits to the news that John Batchelor wants to change Mansfield's name to Harchester United.

They cast Batchelor as a pantomine baddie intent on playing a cruel joke on Mansfield Town, after Batchelor himself told them they 'only had two fans' and that he was budgeting the club for zero attendance next season. He even went so far as to announce a mobile number live on air on a local Mansfield radio station for fans to ask him questions, noting his disappointment to 5live that he 'only got six calls'.

He is perfectly aware his publically declared plans are unpopular. A question and answer session for The Chad newspaper ended up a series of accusations of fraud and deception. He admitted asset-stripping as many companies as he'd 'saved' from a total of around 30, making a six-figure sum from York City - and acknowledged that a larger six-figure sum had gone missing from a deal at York to give a housebuilder first option on the Bootham Crescent site.

On the field, the Stags failed in a number of transfer attempts on loan deadline day after allowing six players to leave - including three strikers. They've scored just three times in the last five games with only Michael Boulding and Jefferson Louis left with any experience up front. Louis showed his commitment to the cause by missing their Easter Monday loss to play internationally for the Dominican Republic, somewhere the Harrow born player had only visited on rare occasions.

Chairman James Derry quit the club yesterday, his position untenable after a third failed bid for the Stags. Batchelor claimed Derry's consortium was stringing the deal along, waiting for the result of their relegation battle before confirming investment. With £500,000 needed up front as working capital - the club would be bought debt free for £1 - and with a £4million option to buy Field Mill they apparently baulked at the whopping rent current owner Keith Haslam wants for the ground.

£275,000 a year, nearly £5,300 a week, would be reduced to £175,000 if they dropped into the Conference. Most Conference sides would fold at the proposition of paying such a huge rent. Cambridge pay around £200,000 a year for their Abbey Stadium, and lose heavily each season as a result. Rotherham blame their current problems on their huge rent.

With such a figure hanging over Mansfield they can only follow the route of Rotherham and Cambridge - to sink further into the mire, lurching from financial crisis to financial crisis until they eventually free themselves from the burden and give owner Keith Haslam the £4million he demands, either by buying the site or bankrupting the club.

Darlington can move above Hereford Today

With Hereford United having the weekend off, Darlington will move above them in League Two this afternoon provided they take at least a point from Bradford City.

But there are still up to nine games to be played by the teams close to the top and, as Dave Penney the Darlington manager notes, there's plenty to play for.

"We have got ourselves in a position that we can achieve something. We are a point behind third with the same games. They (Hereford United) have got to come here. It’s in our hands. There are a lot more twists and turns to come.

"They're not playing on Saturday and Tuesday, when we've got games, so it's important we pick points up, trying to put some daylight between us and them. If we do that then the pressure will be on them."

The Bulls game at Darlington is on April 12th.

The Story of the Season - Hereford United

Former England manager Graham Taylor, writing in this morning's Telegraph, gives his view on the League Two promotion battle and how it is so important to take care of the lower league sides.

At the top of League Two there is the scrap for the title between Milton Keynes Dons, managed by Paul Ince, and Darren Ferguson's Peterborough United. In third place is for me the story of the season. Hereford United, managed by their chairman Graham Turner. I have the utmost regard for Graham, who is a football man through and through and nothing pleases me more than to see him hopefully getting some just reward for all of the effort and commitment he has put into the game over many years.

At the bottom it looks as if nothing can save Mansfield Town and Wrexham from relegation to the Conference, but let us hope they use Accrington Stanley as an example that there can be a football life after what is deemed to be a football death.

Tomorrow sees the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final played at Wembley between Milton Keynes Dons and Grimsby Town, the club where I started my professional football career in 1962. I'm sorry Incie, but it is "Come on you Mariners!" for me.

There is more to football in our country than just the Premier League and over the next month or so there are going to be many tears of both joy and sorrow. That's what makes the game part of our culture, and long may it remain so.

The financial support for grassroots football has had some recent publicity, and even though the figures are nowhere near as to what is actually required, the fact that the roots of the game are being supported is encouraging, because that is where we all start.

If you just keep feeding the top end of any plant it eventually withers as it has little to sustain it. We need to take care of all of our football clubs as best we can, and we need to recognise the part they all play in our lives.

Let's make sure we keep the football pyramid alive and kicking. It's all so much more interesting then.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm raring to go says Igoe

Former Hereford United defender Ryan Green has been credited with telling Sammy Igoe that the Bulls were interested in his signature.

"Ryan said to me one day that Hereford were interested me so I had a look at the table and saw that they were in a great position and thought I wouldn't mind going there," said Igoe as reported by the Worcester News.

"The next thing I know the Bristol manager (Paul Trollope) is telling me that Hereford were interested was I? So here I am. I'm raring to go.

"Hopefully having been involved in the play-offs three times and promotion twice I can help Hereford get up as well."

The 32 year old Igoe will join up with his new team-mates on Monday.

Shrewsbury receive Consolation Prize

Shrewsbury Town aren't going to win promotion this season from League Two but at least they won't end the season empty-handed as the Football Programme Directory has held a vote about the best club programme.

Their number one choice was Shrewsbury Town, followed by Lincoln City and Stockport County.

Shrewsbury say that 'the award is a great recognition to all the hard work that is put in by everybody who contributes to make the programme such a great read.'

Meanwhile last season the income from programme sales at Hereford United rose from £43,417 to £57,916. The programme usually cost £2.50, although for a friendly £1. Last season, excluding friendlies, there were 28 home games. This equates to about £2,000 worth of sales per game or around 800 programmes sold per match.

So at Edgar Street last season one in four supporters bought a match programme.

Rotherham Face Further Penalty

Rotherham face a further 15 point penalty next season if the taxman refuses to agree to another cut-price CVA deal.

They will face a similar punishment to that handed out to Leeds last summer as the failure to enter a CVA will force the assets to be sold and a new club formed. This will incur additional penalties whereas the agreement of a CVA with 75% of the creditors will see no further penalty applied - leaving the taxman holding all the cards with what effectively is a deciding vote due to the amount owed to them.

Meanwhile, all the players and staff agreed to the proposed wage deferral - apart from one. Striker Chris O'Grady was openly blasted by boss Mark Robins for wanting to 'keep his options open' and promptly barred him from the training ground.

Palmer Scores Again For Tigers

Marcus Palmer scored again last night for Gloucester City at the New Lawn.

The Tigers demolished Swindon Supermarine 5-0 with Palmer, a second half sub after injury forced him out of their last match, scoring the fourth. He has now scored five times since arriving at the club at the end of February.

Last night was the last day of his announced month long loan spell. There is no word whether he is to remain with the Tigers or return to Edgar Street.

League Two Action This Weekend

With Hereford United not in action this weekend, there still remains plenty of interesting fixtures at either end of the table to look out for.

At the top of the table, Peterborough will look to take advantage of MK Dons' Johnstone Paint Trophy Final, when they face Lincoln City at home. The Imps will no doubt be looking to build on their victory over The Bulls last Monday. Darlington can over-take United, with victory at home against Bradford. In form Stockport make the short trip to Chester, whilst Chesterfield make the long journey south to Dagenham and Redbridge. Rotherham, who look like likely to miss out on the play-offs after their 10 point reduction, face Morecambe at Christie Park. Brentford against Rochdale may be described as 'game of the day' with both sides chasing that final play-off place.

Down the bottom, Mansfield need nothing but a win at Notts County, whilst Wrexham face a tricky trip to inconsistent Barnet. Macclesfield will look to build on their 3-0 win over Barnet with a home game against Accrington Stanley, whilst the mid-table clash between Shrewsbury and Bury seemingly has little to offer in terms of importance.

A full fixture list can be found below:

  • Barnet v Wrexham
  • Brentford v Rochdale
  • Chester v Stockport
  • Dagenham and Redbridge v Chesterfield
  • Darlington v Bradford
  • Macclesfield v Accrington
  • Morecambe v Rotherham
  • Notts County v Mansfield
  • Peterborough v Lincoln City
  • Shrewsbury v Bury

All games kick-off at 3 o'clock on Saturday afternoon.

News Round Up

Mansfield's soap opera takeover could be just that after bidder John Batchelor admitted considering changing the team name to Harchester Utd - the name of the team from Sky series Dream Team. Batchelor has also been facing harsh questions on local paper The Chad's website, confirming to supporters that he will take 25% of commercial income as comission, and is only buying the club to make a profit. He also confirmed inquiries for Rotherham and Chester before moving for the Stags.

Rotherham's war of words over their Administration continues, with the board blaming former director Dino Maccio for their plunge into their current crisis. The Irish McMullan consortium was ready for a takeover before the crisis, but the board claim Maccio's refusal to surrender his shares led to failure. Maccio claims he offered the shares for nothing, but was never contacted by the group.

The ex-Bull contingent at Northwich is growing, with David Brown the latest to join them in a deadline day loan move from Accrington. Brown had an earlier disappointing loan at Rushden before returning to the Stanley first team at the weekend. He joins Scott Tynan and Danny Williams at the Vics. Chesterfield added free agent Bruce Dyer to their acquistions yesterday. The 32 year old forward was released by Doncaster earlier in the year.

Newspaper reports claim Stockport will receive £350,000 for Ashley Williams following his surprise move to Swansea. The club's finances have been questioned this season, with some fans claiming the earlier sale of Anthony Elding was down to money troubles at Edgeley Park.

Igoe could play on Tuesday

Hereford United's new signing Sammy Igoe could make his club debut next Tuesday evening when the Bulls take on local neighbours Westfields in the final of the HFA Senior Floodlit Cup.

The game would give Igoe a chance to play in a competitive game before the Bulls' next League Two match against Chester City on Saturday week. Should it be made public well before the game that he is playing well it might entice a few extra fans to watch the match.

Hereford United have no match this weekend. They were due to play MK Dons but as the Paint Trophy final is on Sunday (between Grimsby and MK Dons), the game will now take place on Tuesday April 15th.

How strong a side Graham Turner will put out next Tuesday remains to be seen but Westfields have a few problems.

"It's a very busy schedule at the moment and we are relying on players getting through game to game because we are nursing a few injuries," said chief executive Andy Morris.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Report from Hereford United AGM

The 60th Annual General Meeting of Hereford United Football Club took place earlier this evening. Some 21 shareholders were present along with the four directors. As ever the meeting was chaired by Graham Turner.

After director Hugh Brooks had gone through the main points in the accounts (for details see earlier article), they were adopted by the meeting.

Directors Graham Turner and Hugh Brookes were re-elected and the auditors, Baker Tilly, were re-appointed.

After a few questions from the floor Graham Turner thanked everyone who had supported the club during the past year.

There was general agreement that the club had published an excellent set of accounts.

The formal business of the evening ended but the chairman opened up the meeting for an informal discussion.

Turner spoke about the signing of Sammy Igoe earlier today. He said that he was very keen to join the Bulls and would give the option of playing Simon Johnson up front as Igoe can play wide on the right. The deal is for a month but can be extended.

However Turner conceded defeat on another un-named player who he had tried to sign.

As regards Stephen Gleeson, Turner said he had tried to sign him in the January transfer window. He was disappointed in the manner he had left the Bulls but felt that he did not want to be at Edgar Street. He read about his move to Stockport in the press.

Turner said he had tried to get Sherjill Macdonald to return to Edgar Street but was told he was staying at West Bromwich.

A question was asked about the wages of loan players. Turner replied that he usually did a deal which often would vary depending on the player and the club. Only one loan player had cost his full wages. As regards the two youngsters loaned out today, their, admittedly low, wages were being paid by Bromsgrove.

Several comments were made about season tickets. Turner seemed pleased with the way STH's had three free guest tickets this season. He said the club would consider the idea of paying for them by instalments.

There was no fresh news on redevelopment of the ends of the ground. Turner made the comment that many of the potential partners had been enticed into the 'Retail Quarter' but he did say that the Richardsons were talking to a fitness centre.

Mansfield Takeover Twists Again

After 17 months, and several near-misses, the consortium led by current chairman James Derry has apparently pulled out of the running.

Last week they were named as 'effectively in control' by Chief Executive Stephen Booth after they secured, for the third time, the funding to give the club working capital of £500,000. Now, after the untimely intervention of former York supremo John Batchelor the group have apparently fallen out of the race.

Batchelor announced his intention to join the consortium last week, only to then launch a solo bid after a rapid falling out. Earlier today he promised the players a split of half of next season's TV money - £140,000 - if they avoided relegation. The money would be split based on games played, effectively offering some players £10,000.

York fans have little time for Batchelor, accusing him of profiteering during his time at then Bootham Crescent. Several have likened him to current unpopular Stags owner Keith Haslam, with Stags fans nervous at the stories and rumours surrounding him.

Promotion Rivals Strengthen

Stockport have compensated for the loss of defender Ashley Williams by taking Crewe striker Ryan Lowe on loan. The former Chester and Shrewsbury man has scored five times in 30 games for the Railwaymen this season.

Chesterfield have signed central defender Colin Hawkins from Coventry, and midfielder Graeme Owens from Middlesboro. Hawkins is one of eight players to be told he has no future at the Ricoh Arena, while Owens is a 19 year old winger that made his Boro debut earlier in the season.

Darlington have signed Doncaster midfielder Craig Nelthorpe on a months loan. The 20 year old previously played for boss Dave Penny at Doncaster and is, for those criticising Graham Turner's loan policy, their 14th loan signing of the season. They will lose Blackburn midfielder Bryan Hodge before any play-offs due to his short term loan coming to it's maximum 93 days prior to the matches.

I thought I was watching Arsenal says Redrobe

Former Hereford United favourite Eric Redrobe watched last Saturday's game against Bury at Edgar Street and at one time wasn't sure what team was on the pitch.

"I actually thought I was watching Arsenal for a while when I saw Toumani Diagouraga out there - he is so like Patrick Vieira," Redrobe told Richard Prime for the Hereford Times.

"I have no hesitation in saying that Hereford will get promoted.

"Hereford look rock solid at the back. They have two of the most uncompromising defenders in Dean Beckwith and John McCombe. I would not like to play against them, they do not give anything away and cover each other so well.

"I think Gary Hooper up front is a bit more skilful than I was."

Turner disappointed with Gleeson

Graham Turner has spoken to BBC Hereford and Worcester about Stephen Gleeson's move to Stockport. The Irish midfielder left yesterday to join the Bulls' promotion rivals on loan from Wolves.

"I've spoken to Wolves and they were quite happy for him to stay. We've had no contact from Stephen at all, so he's telling me he's signed for Stockport." commented Turner.

"That is disappointing that he has not phoned and just let us know what his intentions were."

Meanwhile speculation that Ashley Williams was about to leave Stockport was correct. He has moved to Swansea on loan with a deal agreed for permanent transfer in the summer.

Igoe Loan Signing Confirmed

The loan signing of Sammy Igoe has been confirmed by the Official Hereford United Website. The Bristol Rovers midfielder, who won promotion with the Gasmen from League Two last season, has joined on a one-month loan deal.

There is more about Igoe in an article below.

Two out on loan

Hereford youngsters Jordan Fitzpatrick and Craig Jones have departed Edgar Street on a months loan to join Southern League Premier side Bromsgrove Rovers. The duo have had limited opportunities in the first-team this season, with their only appearences coming into the HFA Cup.

They follow Marcus Palmer out on loan, who is currently at Gloucester City. Bull's fans with little to do this evening could go to the New Lawn and cheer on Palmer. His side entertain Swindon Supermarine, although there are slight doubts over Palmer after he missed Monday's 4-1 defeat against Chippenham Town, following an illness.

Igoe Profile

Bristol Rovers' midfielder Sammy Igoe is expected to complete a loan move to Edgar Street later today.

The 32 year old has been told he is surplus to requirements with the Pirates, with manager Paul Trollope telling the press: "Sammy has been told he can leave the club and his contract is not going to be renewed.

"He's on the transfer list to give him a chance to get out to another club before the deadline. He was an instrumental part of our success last season, but with the introduction of David Pipe and one or two others, his chances have been limited.

"At his age, he wants to play week in, week out and he's a little bit frustrated at not having that role at the club. He's been a good servant and whether he leaves in the next week or in the summer, we wish him well."

Igoe, a former Portsmouth trainee where he started over 100 games in six years, cost Reading £100,000 in 2000 before moving on to Swindon then Rovers after a disappointing spell at Millwall. The 5ft 6in midfielder has over 400 appearances to his name, and scored the final goal in Bristol Rovers' play off triumph over Shrewsbury last May.

He would come into the Bulls squad as the oldest player, beating Steve Guinan by nearly three months.

Signings Likely

Graham Turner has indicated that there is likely to be new signings today. The Bulls supremo has said he is confident of sealing a deal to bring in at least one new face, and is also trying his best to bring in a second.

The small possibily of Sherjill Macdonald returning to Edgar Street looks dead in the water, after West Brom have let Bartosz Slusarski leave on loan for Sheffield Wednesday. With one striker going, it's unlikely that Tony Mowbray will allow Macdonald back out on loan

Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester that he was in 'advanced talks' with one player. This player is beleived to be Sammy Igoe, of Bristol Rovers, who is negotiating a move according to BBC Sport.

"I wouldn't rule out the possibility of somebody coming in. We are quite advanced on one player coming in. There is a possibilty of a second player coming in but we know there are a lot of clubs looking for players," said Turner.

News Round Up

Mansfield have released strikers Danny Reet and John McAliskey, and defender Martin McIntosh, from their relegation fight. McAliskey started just nine games since arriving from Huddersfield in the summer, while Reet has spent most of the season on loan at Alfreton and McIntosh has failed to overcome injury problems. The club have also ended the loan of midfielder Will Atkinson from Hull and sent rookie forward Ian Holmes out on loan to Telford, with Danny Sleath joining Gainsborough.

Wycombe defender Jack Obersteller is back with the club after cutting short his loan at Grays for personal reasons. Darlington are to extend the loans of Leeds defender Ben Parker and Middlesboro midfielder Jason Kennedy until the end of the season and into the play-offs if necessary. Shrewsbury have signed youngsters Michael Barnes and Martin Riley until the end of the season. Man Utd winger Barnes and Wolves defender Riley are both coming in with a view to permanent signings next season.

Wrexham boss Brian Little will stay at the club if they get relegated, he told BBC Sport Wales. The former Tranmere boss has earned the club 23 points from 23 games, only a slight improvement on Brian Carey's 10 points from 14. Chester's official website will be up and running again after a supporter agreed to take it over. He will also act as programme editor following the last editor's unceremonious dismissal.

Rochdale have released goalkeeper Lloyd Rigby. The 19 year old was third choice, with loanee Tommy Lee also ahead of him in the pecking order. Wycombe have signed striker Delroy Facey from Gillingham on loan until the end of the season. The much travelled forward has scored three times in 35 games for the Gills this season.

Peterboro have loaned midfielder Scott Mitchell to Stevenage for the rest of the season. The 22 year old Scot joined The Posh in January but has started just one game.

Loan Deadline At 5pm Today

The deadline for new loans is 5pm today according to the BBC.

After that time loans can only be made under special circumstances, usually when a goalkeeper is no longer available. Any loan signings made today would be eligible for the remainder of the season, providing they do not exceed the 93 day maximum short term loan period at any one club.

Today is also the last day clubs can enter Administration without the points penalty being deferred. After today, the application of the ten point deduction will be entirely down to the Football League who will choose whether to impose the penalty this season or next. A number of clubs are rumoured to be sailing close to the wind financially, but none are expected to file Administration today.

£162,190 Profit For Hereford United

The annual report and accounts for Hereford United have been released to shareholders. They show that the club made a profit of £162,190 in their first year back in the League.

The club debt has fallen to £652,568 which is half what is was just five years ago. The progress the club has made since those dark days earlier this decade, when the club might have folded, can not be overstated.

The Board of Directors are pleased to report another profit for the season 2006 - 2007. The good financial results reflect a successful season on the pitch which resulted in the club successfully retaining their League status.

The financial situation of the company is now better than it has been for a number of years. We hope that this is a base from which we can build further success in the future.

It is now clear that in the long term the Club will continue to play at Edgar Street and that the ground will be developed and refurbished in partnership with the Developers.

Turnover for the year rose by nearly 60% from £1,040,199 to £1,641,995. Staff costs, which includes players wages, rose from £754,989 to £1,006,903. The two 'working' directors emoluments rose from £58,567 to £86,793.

And for the first year for a long time there was a negative figure for transfer fees. £8,573 came in and £20,000 was paid out (for Ben Smith).

The increase in profit can, in part, be put down to a substantial increase in sponsorship. The figure was up from £105,804 to £371,105. This figure will include the League payment for broadcasting fees etc of around £250,000.

There was also an increase in gate revenue of around £250,000 and a encouraging increase in club shop sales up from £53,816 to £82,665.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Money Needed in the Lower Divisions

Last night there was a special Five Live programme which contained interviews with several managers, owners and others about the finances of clubs in the lower leagues. Whilst there were no interviews with anyone from Hereford United, several comments could apply to the Bulls in one way or another.

Much was made of the vast amounts of money in the Premiership compared with League Two and there were the usual calls to distribute more TV money to the smaller clubs. At present Championship clubs get 80%, League One clubs 12% and League Two 8% which equates to about £250,000 each.

The problems at Rotherham were mentioned.

It was said that the club had a wage bill at the start of this season of about £1.2M which they couldn't sustain. Efforts had been made to cut it to around £900,000. Last week they were deducted ten points for going into administration.

Another contributer spoke about Darlington and their problems with average gates of 3,700.

"We reckon we need around 6,000 through the gates to break even, clearly we are a long way short of that. Even with off the field activities you got to go an awful long way to bring that gap in revenue into the football club.

"So redistribution of revenue is absolutely critical to clubs at our level."

The chairman of Walsall, Jeff Bonser, took the view that each club had to work hard and spend only what it could earn. He told listeners what had happened with his club.

"We had a million pound of debt, dilapidated stadium, no chance of earning money from non-football activity.

"So we did a deal where we built Bescott Stadium which is on a fifteen acre site, very close to the motorway. The location is very important for obvious reasons. Close to Birmingham and the NEC.

"I always knew we could get a hotel on here. We've got a successful Sunday market on here. We've got two of the biggest banqueting conference rooms in the Midlands with air-conditioning which are used most days of the year. Boxing nights, cabaret nights, sporting evenings. We have had live music here for ten years.

"A lot of clubs haven't got the income coming from other than football and they can't survive on it.

"They chase a dream and the results are there for all to be seen.

"I got no sympathy at all for clubs that go into administration. I think it's down to total gross mis-management. I think chairmen and boards of directors have got to learn to say no if they can't afford something."

Then a few words from respected Guardian journalist David Conn.

"I've always been a savage critic of the Premier League breakaway which was about the big clubs keeping all the money that pours into football - that money should have made football a healthier game. It should have kept ticket prices cheap, it should have gone all around.

"The money should have been distributed throughout English football much more evenly."

Conn spell out his view for smaller clubs.

"They should be community clubs. They need to have their markets and their functions. But they need to inspire the local people, the local town around them, around football, the magic of football, but until all that utopia happens they must not spend money they haven't got and end up up the creek without a paddle."

(David Conn is the author of the Football Business.)

Gleeson Leaves For County

Stephen Gleeson has ended his loan spell at the Bulls, and joined promotion rivals Stockport County instead.

The Wolves midfielder told their official site: "County outplayed Hereford in every position on the pitch. They just passed the ball around and we couldn't get near them. They proved they can definitely challenge Hereford and I don't think anyone can hold it against County if they finished third."

Gleeson made his home debut for the Bulls in the game against the Hatters, with a totally ineffective display, after two away games where he earned a surprising Team of the Week nod for his display against Shrewsbury. He has been restricted to the bench or out of the squad since then until his second half cameo against Bury.

He had a previous spell on loan at Edgeley Park, along with Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey, after which he declared himself a "Stockport fan for life".

With the Bulls now down to five loan players, and Graham Turner's hopes of keeping Gleeson dashed, another loan signing before Thursday's deadline is likely.

Meanwhile, Bulls target Kevin Ellison is not expected to leave Chester unless they change their mind. Wrexham boss Brian Little has admitted defeat in his attempts to sign the former Tranmere man:

"It is not something that seems to be happening. I think it is common knowledge we have been interested in Kevin for a while. He is someone we have asked questions about on a few occasions. Getting a potential match winner is a target most people won't let go. I can understand why Chester are holding onto him and we have to accept that."

Imps Withdraw Red Card Appeal

Lincoln City have withdrawn their appeal over Scott Kerr's red card on Monday.

Coach Iffy Onoura told their official site: "When I first watched the incident on video I felt that we had a good case, but having viewed it again since lodging the appeal I wasn't confident that we would have been successful in our appeal, especially as we didn't have the benefit of a different camera angle.

"With that in mind and with the danger of Scott's suspension being increased I reluctantly decided to withdraw the appeal."

The 'different camera angle' provided by the TV camera shows the lunge for the tackle, but the impact is obscured by another Lincoln player leaving it inconclusive.

News Round Up

Rotherham's Chief Operating Officer Paul Douglas has claimed that high wages in League Two have pushed the Millers into their current state and clubs need to lower wages across the board. Several club chairmen, including Leyton Orient's Barry Hearn and Dave Pace at Droylsden - who has pumped £4million into the club, believe clubs in Administration should automatically be relegated.

Wrexham have extended the loan of MK Dons striker Drewe Broughton for a third and final month. His stay with the club will cover every remaining game bar the last day decider at Lincoln. Crawley boss Steve Evans was sent off twice over the weekend, making it six times this season that the Scottish fraudster has incurred the referee's wrath. The club are also reported to owe £13,000 to a local coach company, who withdrew their services before their recent trip to Altrincham forcing the players to drive themselves.

Mansfield's takeover could take a late twist after former York chief John Batchelor stated that he could launch a seperate bid for the club. The colourful businessman, despised by York fans for dumping the club into Administration in 2002, has agreed to join James Derry's accepted bid but will go it alone if the situation drags on further. Derry's bid is now seventeen months in the works.

Lincoln boss Peter Jackson will have a newly decorated office to come back to when he returns from cancer treatment. Chairman Steff Wright promised Jackson carpet tiles for the manager's office for every point earned, with Lincoln earning the final tiles with their win over the Bulls on Monday. Rochdale have released midfielder Lee Crooks, who will now climb Kilimanjaro for a cancer charity in June rather than look for another club. The 30 year old will resume his football career afterwards.

Wrexham striker Eifion Williams is to retire after admitting defeat in his battle against injury. The 32 year old started only seven games since arriving at the Racecourse in the summer, and has been out for over three months with a hamstring problem.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Speculation about Gleeson Continues

Speculation continues that Stephen Gleeson might go to Stockport on loan when his current loan spell ends at Edgar Street this week. The young midfielder first played for the Bulls against Shrewsbury on February 23rd.

Some pundits are suggesting that as Stockport's Welsh captain Ashley Williams may go out to either Cardiff or Swansea on loan with a view to a permanent deal before next season the League Two club would like to see Gleeson return to Edgeley Park for a second loan spell.

However another view is that Wolves are also interested in Birmingham born Williams and may be about to offer Gleeson to Stockport for the remainder of the season as a softner to obtain the signature of Williams.

All the above is no more than speculation. There is little doubt that Graham Turner would like to keep Gleeson until the end of the season. Hopefully he will be able to persuade Wolves manager Mick McCarthy to allow that to happen.

Williams is currently with the Welsh squad in Luxembourg and Gleeson with the Irish squad in Dublin.

What ever happens any deals must be completed by late Thursday.

No Bulls In Team Of The Week

No Bulls were named in this week's Team of the Week for League Two.

A trio of Bury players - two defenders and keeper Darren Randolph - all got a nod as did Lincoln goalscorer Dany N'Guessan. Ex-Bull Michael Rose was also named as one of two Stockport players, with Brentford also getting two named.

Imps To Appeal Red Card

Lincoln City will appeal the red card issued to Scott Kerr for the crude two-footed lunge on Clint Easton during the game yesterday.

Kerr faces a four match ban as it was his second dismissal of the season. Coach Iffy Onoura watched the incident several times on video and has decided to appeal. The appeal would only be successful if it was proven that the tackle was not dangerous, or the referee agreed to reduce the penalty to a yellow card.

In the current climate, it is also a possibility that the ban could be increased for a frivolous appeal.

News Round Up

Mansfield have appointed caretaker boss Paul Holland as manager until the end of the season. The Stags have won only one of four games under his charge, but have seen dramatically improved performances. Rotherham's administrator will ask all staff and players to accept a wage deferral in order for the club to finish the season. Finances are so poor at Millmoor that the move is necessary to keep the club trading.

Stockport look set to lose defender Ashley Williams sooner rather than later. The 23 year old is set to win his first Welsh cap in the week, with Cardiff and Swansea heading a string of clubs looking to sign him before Thursday's loan deadline ahead of a permanent summer move. Chester needed the help of their supporters coach to finish the journey to Peterboro yesterday. The team bus broke down ten minutes from London Road, leaving the players to hitch a lift on the passing supporters bus.

Steve Bull has admitted his Stafford side is all but relegated. Their 2-0 loss to fellow strugglers Altrincham left them 14 points short with nine games left, with home gates dropping back to their pre-Bull levels with just over 500 home fans watching their loss to Torquay on Saturday. Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin has stumped up £2,000 to help Grays pay off the FA demands to pay a jailed player. Grays chairman Mick Woodward helped Alty with their fight against a massive points deduction in 2006.

Loan Deadline ends on Thursday

Graham Turner has until late Thursday to bring in any extra loan players to boost the promotion chances of the Bulls. The Hereford United manager may decide to try and find another striker after the recent relatively barren spell in front of goal.

Whilst it was good to see an appearance yesterday from sub striker Steve Guinan, his first since being injured on New Year's Day, it's uncertain whether he is yet fully fit.

Another of the Bulls strikers, Trevor Benjamin, is currently out with an eye problem. Little detail has been made public about how long he may be out for.

Young striker Marcus Palmer is out on loan at Gloucester.

So that leaves just Gary Hooper and Theo Robinson. At present their partnership doesn't appear to be working, with Robinson goalless in a dozen matches and the hard working Hooper having scored just two in seven.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Coleman gets sent to the Stands again

Accrington Stanley's manager John Coleman was sent to the stands for a second time in successive games this afternoon. His side were defeated 1-0 by leaders MK Dons.

Late in the game Ray Mathias, the Dons assistant manager, was knocked to the ground as Accrington defender Leam Richardson tried to take a throw in.

This from the Times:

A touchline mêlée ensued, with Paul Ince, the visiting team's manager, confronting Richardson on the pitch before Coleman was sent off for attempting to persuade Eddie Ilderton, the referee, not to caution his player.

Coleman said: “It was farcical. I did nothing wrong. Our player has tried to take a quick throw, he knocks their assistant manager over and we are all laughing about it. Paul Ince then takes exception and gets involved, I go on to the pitch to try to stop our player getting booked and I get sent to the stands. It's not funny for me because I'll be getting an FA charge after being sent off again.”

Ince escaped punishment, but Mathias suggested that the Tyne & Wear official had overreacted by dismissing Coleman and the Accrington coach, Jimmy Bell. “It was a nothing incident,” he said. “For their manager and coach to be sent off is a bit harsh.”

Meanwhile Darlington manager Dave Penney was relieved his side came back from being 0-2 down to draw with Morecambe.

"You've got to be delighted when you come back from two goals down and get something. It could be a massive point."

Lincoln Boss does a Wenger

Lincoln manager Iffy Onoura was interviewed after the game and one of the main questions was about the sending off of Scott Kerr. The referee produced a red card for a what looked to be a two footed challenge on Clint Easton.

"The simple truth, sorry to do an Arsène Wenger, was I was so far away I didn't see it properly," he told BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

"Scott is disappointed. I'll trust Scott with his word that there was minimal contact. He said one or two of the Hereford players said he was harshly treated.

"The lad (Clint Easton) seemed to bounce up very quickly.

"I just think that referees have a very difficult job. The climate now is that anything like that - I could imagine that if anybody had walked even ten yards he would have booked him for dissent and if there's an over the top challenge they will brandish a red straight away without taking a little bit of time to compose yourself, look at the direction of the ball, look at the extent of the players injury and see whether there really is merit in a red card.

"Once you have it in your mind to do it, you can't go back. Just take a moment."

Later in the game when Easton was carded for tripping Ben Wright, the referee appeared not to deem the offence card worthy but the linesman flagged and the referee went over to consult him before deciding it was a penalty.

In effect he did just what the Lincoln Manager suggested he should have done earlier. He took a few moments.

We've got to take our chances -Turner

In a post match interview with Keith Hall, the Hereford United manager Graham Turner admitted that the Bulls had failed to take their chances this afternoon at Sincil Bank.

"We've had a lot of chances, good opportunities but it didn't go for us," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"We got caught on the break from our own set piece for the first goal.

"We should have won it but a draw would not have been a desparate result for us. But then to loose the game is scandulous.

"We should have won the game, we should have taken some of the chances we had.

"I hoping it's not a little bit of pressure that's starting to be exerted, I hope it's not the little bit of tension that's caused the upset today. Because in front of goal we looked a bag of nerves.

"It wasn't down to our defending, it was down to our ability in front of goal today."

Stats show Equal Possession at Lincoln

Both Hereford United and Lincon City were both ajudged to have had 50% possession at this afternoon's game between the two clubs at Sincil Bank.

However the Bulls had nine shots on target as against just two for the Imps. and the Bulls also had nine off target as against just four by Lincoln.

Lincoln had Scott Kerr sent off and the Bulls had two players booked. Firstly Ben Smith and then on 84 minutes Clint Easton. His booking for a trip in the box gifted three points to Lincoln as they converted the penalty.

The attendance was 3614 with a creditable 381 supporting the Bulls.

Top of League Two:

1 Milton Keynes Dons 39 39 82
2 Peterborough 40 36 82
3 Hereford 39 24 74
4 Darlington 39 30 73
5 Stockport 39 16 69
6 Wycombe 40 12 67
7 Chesterfield 40 15 60

10 Men Imps overcome Bulls

Hereford United's promotion chase was dealt a major blow this afternoon as they went down 2-1 at Sincil Bank against Lincoln City. The blow has been softened by Darlington's failure to beat Morecambe at home, but The Bulls lie just one point in front of Dave Penney's outfit following today's results. Danny N'Guessan opened the scoring in the first-half, after a fine run and finish, just minutes after Mark Kerr saw red for a reckless challenge. Gary Hooper levelled the proceedings mid-way through the second-half, but N'Guessan had the final say by slotting home a late penalty.

The Bulls were unchanged once again following three wins out of their previous four, and four clean sheets in a row. There was one change on the bench, with Stephen Gleeson away on international duty, meaning Sam Gwynne returned to the sixteen. Lincoln named experienced striker Jamie Forrester up front, with another veteran of the game, Mark Stallard, sitting on the bench.

United looked good in the early stages, with a Clint Easton cross towards the back-post allowing Simon Johnson to send a half-volley goalwards, but it was blocked. Pinball in the home side's box saw Ben Smith slam a shot towards goal but again, the Lincoln defence did their job and blocked it. Hooper had a good opportunity to open the scoring, when sent racing through by Toumani Diagouraga, but the on loan man failed to beat Alan Marriott from 10 yards, as they goalkeeper closed the angle down and made a good save. Minutes later, a slice in the box by Nat Brown allowed another chance for Hooper, but this time, he failed to hit the target with a snapshot volley going over. Forrester showed his class, with some neat touches up front, and beat two men before curling into the arms of Wayne Brown from 20 yards.

Lincoln were reduced to ten men just shy of the half hour mark, after Kerr jumped in two footed on Easton. The referee was quick to react, and showed no hesistation in dishing out the red. Yet, the home side didn't seem to mind being down a man, as they went up the other end to score immediately after the free-kick had been cleared. N'Guessan collected the ball inside his own half, and his pace and skill took him inside United's box before he sent a low left foot shot across W. Brown and into the far corner. Forrester was sacrificed for young midfielder Martin Pembleton, as the hosts looked to sure up their midfield. United had much more possession following the red card, but created little in the final stages of the first-half. Hooper's mis-kick at the back-post from an Easton free-kick, and a deflected Richard Rose effort, which had Marriott scrambling, was all The Bulls could muster up.

The second half continued to be dominated on the whole by United, but Lincoln still looked threatening on the break. N'Guessan again went on a direct run towards goal, unchallenged, he shot past the post from 25 yards. Trent McClenahan's burst down the right hand-side, and cut in saw the Aussie shoot narrowly over with a powerful effort, whilst Johnson also cut in from the right wing, and set a curling left-foot shot wide of the far post. A neat through ball by Johnson found the forward run of Smith, who got in front of the Lincoln defence, but lacked composure as he slammed a shot at Marriott, who palmed it out for a corner.

Rose wasted a fine chance to equalise as he headed an Easton corner over the bar, despite losing his marker. Luckily, Hooper didn't follow suit as he equalised. Theo Robinson, who again looked out of sorts with the frustration of the young man visible, managed to knock a ball through to Hooper, whose speed took him past the last defender, and he toe-poked into the back of the net. The Bulls really should have gone onto to win the game against ten men, but they failed to take their chances. Johnson controlled a weak clearence in the box, but blasted over after setting himself nicely.

Steve Guinan made a long awaited return to the first-team, replacing Johnson, whilst an injury to Lee Ridley meant his game was over, with Adie Moses coming on in his place. Hooper smashed a free-kick into the body of Marriott, whilst a Dean Beckwith header was gathered with easy by the Lincoln goalie. Just seven minutes from the end, Lincoln got themselves ahead once again, courtesy of a foul by Easton. Pembleton nodded dangerously into the box to the un-marked Ben Wright. The striker was about to pull the trigger when his heels were clipped by Easton; the linesman awarded a penalty, and Easton was booked. N'Guessan stepped up from 12 yards, and sent W. Brown the wrong way.

The Bulls threw everything at Lincoln in the final moments with Robinson's 25 yard effort narrowly missing the top corner. The youngster was frustrated moments later, when Guinan and Hooper linked up and the former played in Robinson on the right-hand side of the box; it was a fine chance to seal a point for United, but he shot weakly and Marriott gathered. In the five minutes of stoppage time, Hereford continued to press, leaving them prone to the counter, and Lenell John-Lewis took advantage, by going on a fantastic run, past two defenders before shooting towards the top corner. It took a fine diving save from W. Brown to deny him as he pushed the ball onto the crossbar. The final chance, right at the death fell to Robinson. Hooper's strength and pace took him past a defender, and he set up Robinson in a similar position to his earlier chance, but in the same outcome, he could only find the hands of Marriott with his placed shot.

If The Bulls aren't to make automatic promotion, the Easter weekend could well have be their downfall. A host of missed chances in both today's game and Bury on Saturday has contributed to a disappointing couple of days. However, Darlington have had the same set of results as The Bulls have managed, and United are still in the driving seat with regards the third automatic promotion spot. A twelve day break before Chester could do Hereford the world of good, or could have a negative effect on the run-in, with make or break time now upon them. Graham Turner will have to make decisions too; in particular, the strike-force. Hooper has cemented his place, but who should partner him is another question. Robinson looks short of confidence, and can't buy a goal; the return of Guinan could well be the answer.

Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Beckwith, McCombe, Rose, Johnson, Diagouraga, Smith, Easton, Hooper, Robinson.

Subs: Esson, Collins, Gwynne, Taylor, Guinan.

Lincoln: Marriott, Green, Brown, Hone, Ridley, N'Guessan, Kerr, Clarke, John-Lewis, Forrester, Wright.

Subs: Duffy, Pembleton, Moses, Stallard, Dodds.

League Two Results Round-Up

Realistically it's down to a straight two horse race for the title after MK Dons and Peterboro both secured narrow 1-0 wins to move eight points ahead of the Bulls. The Dons won at Accrington in front of just 1,559, while Peterboro beat Chester at home. For the third game running Darlington found themselves 2-0 down at half time but secured a 2-2 draw against Morecambe with a late fightback.

Stockport failed to close the gap for an automatic spot after a 0-0 draw with Wycombe that kept the pair fifth and sixth respectively. Chesterfield lost 1-0 at Bradford to leave seventh place wide open. Rochdale closed the gap to four points - with three games in hand - with a resounding 4-1 thrashing of sorry Rotherham, while Grimsby's faint hopes grew dimmer with a 2-1 home loss to Brentford.

Down the bottom Wrexham could only get a goalless draw with Dagenham while Mansfield lost 2-0 at Bury. Both sides are now on 33 points, and seven points adrift of safety, with the Dragons staying bottom on goal difference. Macclesfield won again, 3-0 over Jeckyll and Hyde Barnet to leapfrog Notts County, who got a point with a 0-0 draw at 12 game winless Shrewsbury.

Bulls Imp-aled At Sincil Bank

The Bulls end up collecting just a solitary point from their Easter games as they lost 2-1 at Lincoln in today's League Two match.

Despite playing an hour against only ten men the Bulls twice allowed the Imps to take the lead with Dany N'Guessan scoring both, the second from the spot after Cling Easton was judged to have tripped Ben Wright.

381 travelling Bulls watched the Bulls concede their first goals in 427 minutes as Gary Hooper's goal was not enough. The Bulls remain third, but have their gap to Darlington cut to a solitary point.

Full report later.

Penney Anger At Slack Defending

Darlington boss Dave Penney has vented his fury at his side's poor defending in the last two games.

Speaking to the Northern Echo Penney, whose side lost to Chester and only narrowly beat Grimsby the previous week, said: "That's four sloppy goals in two games and that's not like us.

"I know Hereford didn't win but I'm not concerned about them, I'm only concerned about us and we're not going to achieve automatic promotion if we're going to concede goals like we did. That's two weeks in a row that we have gone 2-0 behind and then started playing.

"But our strengths have been keeping it tight, making sure it's not an open game and then as the game goes on we would get stronger with our superior fitness levels."

Penney also ruled injured striker Pawel Abbott out for the remainder of the League fixtures: "Pawel over stretched for the ball, pulled his hamstring and it looks a bad one. We're looking at four to six weeks so that probably rules him out of the normal season. That's a major blow, not just losing, but losing Pawel too."

Two Brothers with One Purpose

The two McCombe brothers John and Jamie are both with clubs hoping for promotion this season. John, who is the younger of the two, is with Hereford United and Jamie with Bristol City.

John moved to Edgar Street from Huddersfield during the summer and has formed an excellent partnership in the heart of defence with Dean Beckwith.

"Hopefully we can both get promotion," John told the Western Daily Press. "Our mum and dad and our granddads and auntie and uncle like to go to as many of our games as they can. Someone is always there watching us.

"Jamie has been an inspiration. He plays in the same position as me and I ring him up and ask him for a lot of advice about stuff.

"We work together and I am really happy with how his season has gone and I reckon he will be happy about mine.

"He has done really well to be player of the year at Bristol in his first season and he has had a few injury problems but he has gone on to do well again this season."

Bulls can further a Record this Afternoon

Hereford United could further a club record this afternoon should they defeat Lincoln City. An away win will be the fourteenth of this campaign and will pass the previous record of away wins in the League.

Meanwhile speaking before today's game at Sincil Bank Hereford United captain Ben Smith says he well aware that Lincoln (14th) lost their last game 5-2 at Barnet (15th).

"I think when teams get hammered I never know whether that is a good thing or a bad thing because they've obviously had a rollicking from their manager and they'll be looking to rectify that," Smith told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"We had a great result there last year and we'll be looking to do something similar this year.

"Steve (Guinan) scored a hat-trick when we played there last year so may be history will repeat himself.

"It's good to have him back (in the squad)."

Discussing the Top of League Two Smith is hopeful of an automatic promotion spot for Hereford United who are currently in third position.

"We've been up there all season. You're not up there for eight months if there is not a reason behind that. We're up there because we're a good side.

"So are MK Dons, Peterborough and Darlington and I don't think you can discount Stockport now. They seem to be on a great run.

"It's important we keep going."

There will be full commentary of this afternoon's game on BBC Hereford and Worcester's 94.7FM frequency which can be heard in most parts of the county. Keith Hall will be at Sincil Bank for the station.

Finally there is a full fixture programme in League Two this afternoon:

Accrington Stanley v Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford v Chesterfield
Bury v Mansfield
Darlington v Morecambe
Grimsby v Brentford
Lincoln City v Hereford
Macclesfield v Barnet
Peterborough v Chester
Rochdale v Rotherham
Shrewsbury v Notts County
Wrexham v Dag & Red
Wycombe v Stockport

The match of the day is probably at Wycombe (6th) where in form Stockport (5th) are the visitors. A draw might be the best result from a Hereford United point of view.

MK Dons (1st), Peterborough (2nd)and Darlington (4th) all look to have a reasonable chance of winning their games. Only if the Bulls win at Lincoln will any slip-up by the other teams in the top four be of help in their push for an automatic promotion place.

UPDATE 9.30am: The game at Lincoln will go ahead. The expected frost did not occur last night as temperatures stayed just above freezing. Currently the forecast is for a dry day with some sunny periods but a cold gusty wind.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Preview: Lincoln vs Bulls

The Bulls travel to Sincil Bank looking for three points from the Imps as they did last February.

A Steve Guinan hat-trick was the decisive factor in a 4-1 win last season, the Bulls' only win at Sincil Bank, while this season's meeting at Edgar Street also saw the Bulls run out comprehensive winners. A Theo Robinson penalty was added to by a rare Trent McClenahan goal and a late Ben Smith finish for a 3-1 win.

The Imps have steadied the ship since a disasterous start saw the dismissal of John Schofield in October. Peter Jackson came in and, after only minor tinkering to the squad, turned the ship around. Coach Iffy Onoura, in charge with Jackson on sabbatical for cancer treatment, even claims they can make the play offs - but they're 14 points short of seventh place with only 21 points to play for and his claims have been rubbished by most sensible Imps fans. Prize asset Lee Frecklington, a £300,000 target of Peterboro, is expected to miss the game through injury. Top scorer Ben Wright, with 12 goals from 27 appearances, may get a recall after two late goals against Barnet.

The Bulls were in need of goals against Bury and failed. The return of Steve Guinan to fitness will boost a forward line that offers just one goal in six with Theo Robinson goalless in eleven games - his worst run of the season. At least the defence is performing well, with four straight clean sheets forming a run of 396 minutes since a penalty was conceded against Stockport - the best run of the season.

Lincoln City vs Hereford United, Sincil Bank, Monday 24th March, 3.00pm.

Some HUISA seats remain for Lincoln

At close of business in Legends after Saturday's game against Bury, 5 seats were still available with HUISA for travel to Lincoln on Bank Holiday Monday (tomorrow). The fare is £15 with a departure time of 09.30.

Although the Club office is closed today, anyone wishing to take up any of the remaining seats can do so by turning up in the morning. Seats will be on a first come, first served basis.

Turner comments on accounts

In his matchday programme column yesterday, Graham Turner made mention of the soon to be released 06/07 trading accounts. Turner starts by reminding everyone of the difficult financial situation that the current Board inherited including the loss of the leases and the £1 million pound debt.

"That debt however has been accounted for in a joint venture agreement which should eventually be wiped off our balance sheet when development takes place at either end of the ground."

It is not known if this joint venture agreement with The Richardson's is contractually binding to the point that it prevents development taking place in conjunction with another party. If it is, then some might consider that The Club is now even more tied to the developers than had previously been thought.

The accounts are expected to reach the shareholders early this week but Turner did say in his notes "I can reveal that we showed a profit of just over £160,000 for the year ending May 2007."

Ellison Still In Demand

One of the Bulls' targets in the January transfer window, Chester winger Kevin Ellison, is still in demand.

Wrexham have had a fresh bid for the former Tranmere man rejected according to the Daily Post. Ellison missed yesterday's win over Darlington, and the future of the top scorer at the Deva has been in constant doubt since several clubs made bids in January.

Ellison had agreed a move to Stockport in February before the deal failed amidst conflicting reports. Chester sources claimed the player decided the deal wasn't right, while Stockport claimed that monies were owed by Chester to the player that wasn't forthcoming. Bury and Wrexham had bids rejected before the Hatters move, and interest from the Bulls was revealed in the press.

Match doubt at Lincoln?

Overnight snow and predicted frost this evening has cast doubt on tomorrows League 2 match at Lincoln's Sincil Bank.

At 12 noon today (Sunday), the surrounding area was covered in a couple of inches of snow and with temperatures expected to remain below zero the chances of a thaw seem remote.

The Hereford squad expect to travel this afternoon for an overnight stay but fans are advised to check with Lincoln City before leaving in the morning.

Lincoln City 0870 899 2005.

Update: As at 1pm the current forecast for Lincoln is suggesting that temperatures will fall to -3C tonight but tomorrow should be dry with some sunshine although still windy.

Another Profit for Hereford United

Hereford United have reported a profit of £160,000 for the twelve months ending last May. It is the fourth year running the Bulls have been in the black.

The full details will be announced on Thursday evening at the Annual General Meeting of the club which takes place at the Three Counties Hotel.

The total profit for the last four years comes to just over £750,000. After years of losses the club is now in a much stronger position.

Quakers Lose Abbott

Darlington have lost the services of striker Pawel Abbott for most of the remainder of the season with a hamstring problem.

The injury plagued striker has managed just 15 starts in the League this season, scoring nine times, but will now miss several weeks after limping off during yesterday's loss to Chester. Boss Dave Penney had been purring about the striker after a brace last weekend turned the game for them against Grimsby:

"Pawel's a good finisher and this is the fittest we've seen him. He missed a bit of pre-season, then he had a thigh strain so he wasn't quite fit enough at the start of the season. Then he had a knee problem which he tried to play through. He had a couple of injections which didn't quite work, so then he had an operation, which looks like it's cured it. Now he looks as fit as he's ever been while with us."

Darlington may be forced back into the loan market with fellow striker Richie Foran only just coming fit after two months out. They have used 35 players so far this season, more than any club bar Wrexham.

Little Rest for the Bulls

Hereford United's players will have little time to get over yesterday's draw with Bury as they are set to travel to Lincolnshire later today for tomorrow's match at Sincil Bank.

Although Lincoln lost 5-2 at Barnet yesterday, the Bulls should take no notice of that result and remember that the home side will be looking both to get over the defeat and put on a much better performance than when the two teams last met at Sincil Bank which was on a cold and wet Tuesday evening in February last year.

The Bulls put on what was probably their best display of the season when they perhaps surprisingly defeated Lincoln 4-1. Just 151 away supporters watched the game but the atmosphere was tremendous helped by Steve Guinan who was in top form scoring a hat-trick.

Graham Turner will be without loanee Stephen Gleeson tomorrow, who is on Irish international duty. Gleeson came on as a sub yesterday and impressed in the short time he was on the pitch. His initial month's loan at Edgar Street finishes this week and after yesterday no doubt Graham Turner will be hoping to extend the loan to the end of the season.

Striker Trevor Benjamin will also be missing as he has an eye problem. Luke Webb and Mike Ingham are long term absentees.

With Darlington losing yesterday, it was the ideal opportunity for the Bulls to have put more distance between them and fourth placed Darlington. In fact Stockport were the only team in the top five to take three points this weekend.