Plymouth Argyle came away from Edgar Street this evening with a narrow victory, courtesy of a solitary Steve Maclean header. The former Glasgow Rangers striker followed up a shot from Onismor Bhasera effort to see Plymouth supporters return to Devon content. Another decent attendance was present, with 127 away followers in the overall figure of 1343. United were without O'Neil Thompson for the game but otherwise were at full strength.
The first-half was a dour affair with little entertainment offered at either end. A cross from the right came through to Anton Peterlin but his scuffed effort was saved by Adam Bartlett. Soon after, a ball through the middle wasn't dealt with by Michael Townsend, under pressure, but Rory Patterson failed to lift the ball over Bartlett. Kenny Lunt's patience down the left eventually saw him pick out James Mcquilkin on the edge of the area and his crisp drive fell inches past the post. A snapshop volley inside the box from Patterson was held by Bartlett, and the former Kidderminster 'keeper was on hand to deny Yannick Bosale with a right-foot drive.
Simon Davey opted to keep the same side for the second-half apart from introducing Dan Connor for Bartlett, but his counterpart Peter Reid opted for five changes, and these were intstrumental in helping Plymouth take the lead. Maclean sent a warning to Connor with a downward header that the Irishman saved with his feet, but on the 59th minute, the Scottish striker made no mistake. Bhasera skipped in from the left, avoiding a number of tackles before sending a fierce shot goalwards; Connor got a strong hand to it but the ball fell nicely for Maclean to nod into the net.
The encounter became a little fiesty, with some late tackles and flying elbows causing a few players to get a little heated. In the midst of it all, Kovacs powerful header from a Lunt free-kick was pushed over by Plymouth 'keeper Colin Doyle, although the referee opted to award a goal kick. The subs started to roll on then, with eight changes in total being made by the home team. Mcquilkin failed to hit the target with a left-foot shot from 25 yards as the subs continued to flow and disrupt any sort of rhythm the game had picked up. With just over ten minutes remaining, Hereford had perhaps their best chance to equalise when a Lunt free-kick picked out the unmarked Sean Canham but he failed to connect with a header from six yards.
It was a tough work-out against Plymouth, who played some neat, quick football. Without wanting to state the obvious, United lacked width. Too often, long balls were pumped up to Canham and Manset, a far cry from the fast attacking football we have been promised. With only ten days remaining till the big kick off, two wingers are desperately needed. The missing presence of Thompson in the middle of the park was also an important factor in the final score. Next up is Hereford's final friendly, when they visit Neath on Saturday.
Hereford: Bartlett (Connor), Green (Stratford), Kovacs (Rose), Townsend, Valentine (Weir), Mcquilkin, Lunt (Evans), Gwynne (Kanoute), Canham (Reid), Fleetwood (Thomas), Manset (Malsom).
Subs not used (Apparently, although I didn't see him warming up...): Ani.
Plymouth: Doyle, Seip (Timar), N'Gala, Arnason (Paterson), Bhasera, Clark (Molyneux), Peterlin, Johnson (Summerfield), Bolasie (Wright-Phillips), Patterson (Noone), Fallon (Maclean).
Subs not used: Larrieu.