Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bucks Head and shoulders above Bulls

Hereford United went down 3-1 to Conference outfit AFC Telford at the New Bucks Head this evening. The hosts found themselves 2-0 up at the break, following a Sean Newton penalty, and a wonder free-kick from Nathan Rooney. After the break, Telford continued to impress and added a third when Andy Brown tapped in, before Delroy Facey notched a consolation strike for the lacklustre Bulls.

United were without Ryan Green, with Rob Purdie filling in at right-back. Former Lincoln and Barnet winger Albert Jarrett trialled for Hereford on the left-hand side, whilst Danny Williams was preferred to Joe Colbeck on the right. Telford included two former Bulls in Ryan Valentine and Craig King; Dan Preston, who spent two loan spells with Hereford over the past two seasons, had to be content with a place amongst the subs.

Within two minutes of the start, Telford found themselves with a golden opportunity to take the lead, following an extremely harsh handball decision against Janos Kovacs. Newton stepped up and sent Adam Bartlett the wrong way to hand the Bucks the lead. James Reid, who was a thorn in Hereford's defence all night, cleared the cross-bar with a long-range effort. The tricky left-footer split the Bulls back-line to send Adam Proudlock through on goal, but the former Stockport striker blasted an effort at Bartlett, who pushed it over the bar. Following an awful Ronaldo-esque attempt at one end from Williams, Telford's Rooney tried his luck with a 30 yard set-piece. The ball was touched to him, and he smashed it in to the top corner with Bartlett helpless. Namesake Wayne would have been proud of that one!

Colbeck replaced the ineffective Williams at the break, but still it was the home side who continued to threaten. Brown found room from the right and nearly found the back of the net with a curling effort which dropped narrowly wide. After a half-decent Hereford penalty appeal for handball was turned down, Telford broke at speed down the left, with Reid picking out King, who heheaded just past the post. Yoann Arquin replaced a frustrated Stuart Fleetwood, who had failed to get into the game throughout, whilst James McQuilkin took to the field with Harry Pell making way. Yet, the changes had little effect as Telford added a third. Again, Reid was involved, delightfully racing away from Joe Heath and Jarrett, before lashing a low shot goalwards which Bartlett could only parry up into the air leaving Brown the simple task of tapping in.

Facey pressured a defender into a weak back pass, narrowly beating the 'keeper to the ball but under pressure, fired just over with a left-foot shot. At the other end, Tyler Weir, who had just replaced Jarrett, was skinned by King, withe young attacker smashing the post with a right-foot drive from the angle. Hereford pressed though for the final fifteen minutes, with Colbeck shooting wildly over after a neat pass by Arquin. Bartlett was on hand to deny Newton's sweet chipped effort, after he was superbly spotted by Reid.

Arguably the move of the game went to Hereford though; Kenny Lunt's cross-field pass was superbly touched on to Weir by Colbeck, and the Hereford youngster's half-volley struck the post, before Facey drilled in the rebound. That goal gave Hereford some impetus, with Arquin nicking the ball off the defender but failing to find a finish, with 'keeper Ryan Young denying him. Kyle McCarthy replaced Heath with ten minutes to go as Hereford showed their greater fitness levels. An awful decision to try and run it out of his own box by a Telford player saw him slip, but Colbeck couldn't punish him as he blasted over from 12 yards. Purdie's strike from outside the box, after a short pass by Lunt, was straight at Young, whilst a glided header by Arquin from a Facey cross failed to threaten.

It was a frustrating, and ultimately, poor, performance by Hereford, in front of a travelling contingent of 98. Signs of some neat interchanges were evident, but unfortunately, the defensive pairing of Michael Townsend and Kovacs still seem intent of blasting the ball up towards the sky. The greatest attacking threat that Hereford offered was when some pace was introduced, with Colbeck looking lively. Telford on the other hand looked a very decent Conference outfit; Valentine had an impressive game against his former employers, whilst Reid looked a class above that level, at least. Jamie Pitman, slighty tounge in cheek, shouted to one frustrated supporter at half-time, "Cheer up, for f**ks sake", and he's got a point, it's only pre-season, August 6th will be the time to properly judge the team.

Hereford: Bartlett, Purdie, Kovacs, Townsend, Heath, Williams, Pell, Lunt, Jarrett, Fleetwood, Facey.

Subs: Hoult, McCarthy, Weir, Colbeck, McQuilkin, Arquin.

Telford: Young, Valentine, Newton, Whitehead, Killock, King, Trainer, Rooney, Reid, Proudlock, Browmn.

Subs: Salmon, L Evans, Davies, Meechan, Pitt, Johnson, Adams, Samuels, Lawrie, Farrell, L Reid, Richards.

Jamie Pitman with first-team coach Richard Sneekes

Telford's main stand.