Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bulls and Blues stalemate

Hereford United continued their season preperations with a 0-0 home draw against Championship outfit Birmingham. A bumper attendance of 2,848, boosted by an excellent following from the Midlands saw a fairly entertaining encounter, with both sides playing the majority of their football on the floor.

Sporting a fairly narrow formation, United made the early inroads and had arguably the best chance of the match within the opening few minutes. Ryan Green's boot forward was touched down by Delroy Facey to Stuart Fleetwood, who played a through ball back to Facey; the Grenada international outmuscled and outpaced his defensive marker but dragged a shot just past the far post. Liam Ridgewell smashed a long-range strike into the advertising boards, whilst Keith Fahey could only find the arms of Adam Bartlett when presented with an opportunity 18 yards out. At the other end, Harry Pell's follow up effort, after a Joe Colbeck cross was blocked, ended up over the stand. Chris Hughton's men ended the half stronger, with Fahey again testing Bartlett, before the away team had their best chance of the half. A cross from the evergreen Stephen Carr found its way to Michel six yards out but his effort was excellently blocked by Ryan Green. In the final minute, former Bulls' loanee Jordon Mutch blazed over from an acute angle.

As is often the case with pre-season friendlies, the second half was littered with subs which effected the rhythm of the game. Jamie Pitman introduced six of his seven options on the bench, with only Russell Hoult failing to make an appearence. Rob Purdie's last ditch tackle denied the Blues a clear effort on goal, whilst the tricky Chris Burke's intentionally sliced strike was pushed away by Bartlett. Second half sub James McQuilkin tried his luck from 30 yards, after Colbeck had set him up but he failed to trouble Colin Doyle, whilst Purdie's diagonol burst from right-back saw him go past a number of challenges before failing to keep his composure at the vital moment, flashing a powerful strike off-target. Akwasi Asante escaped the challenge of Janos Kovacs to race away down the left-wing before dragging back for Burke, but the former Cardiff man failed to hit the target. French trialist Yoann Arquin struck early but over after again Colbeck provided an opportunity, before in the final moments, Mutch stung the palms of Bartlett having latched on to a through ball by Michel, and Fahey nodded wide after meeting a deep cross by Nathan Redmond.

It was a useful workout for both teams, and Pitman should be pleased with the final result. United were well drilled throughout, especially defensively, but lacked a little bit of width at times. Kovacs looked assured at the back, despite his transfer listing, whilst Joe Heath and Ryan Green also made good impressions. The striking partnership of Facey and Fleetwood showed promise at stages, especially the link-up for the early chance. The Edgar Street pitch, albeit a little smaller this season, was in top condition, which is more than can be said for the potholes outside the ground! Next up for Hereford is a trip to Westfields in the County Cup on Monday evening.

Hereford: Bartlett, Green, Townsend (Williams), Kovacs, Heath (McCarthy), Lunt (McQuilkin), Pell (Weir), Colbeck, Purdie, Fleetwood (John), Facey (Arquin).

Subs not used: Hoult

Birmingham: Doyle, Carr, Caldwell, Ridgewell (Valles), Dann (Davies), Murphy, Michel, Burke (Redmond), Mutch, Fahey (Gomis), Rooney (Asante).

Subs not used: Kerr, Ozturk, Jervis.