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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Draw was on the Cards

Hereford United continued their quest to cement their place in the play offs with an away trip to Kingfield, home of Woking - who were hoping to creep into the end of season lottery themselves.

Just one change was made from the dismal home defeat last weekend, as Robbie King deputised for the the suspended Andy Ferrell in the middle. The game began, but was bought to a stop for a few minutes almost immediately as Tony James was in need of the magic sponge, following a collision with Steve Ferguson, who gave James a torrid time throughout.

Craig Stanley came closest to giving the Bulls a first half lead with United's first major attack, following a good ball from Stuart Fleetwood to pick out the run of Rob Purdie towards the left flank. Purdie's delivery found Stanley storming through the middle, but his half volley, which hit the underside of the cross bar, was cleared away off the line. At the other end Wayne Brown almost made a hash up, as he came to the edge of the box to head away a high ball, but gifted it to Ferguson but the 'keeper managed to scramble in front of the attackers first effort, before the ball bounced back to him. James, though, was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the goal line.

Stephen Evans played a neat headed one-two with Craig McAllister, which found the former in a central position with plenty of space, but he rashley volleyed over from twelve yards out. James misjudged a long ball towards the Hereford back line to almost disasterous consequences, but luckily, when Ferguson stole in, he lifted the ball wide of the far post. King dragged an effort wide in a rare United effort at goal minutes before the break, but right on the stroke of half time the deadlock was broken. Ryan Green conceded a free kick almost right on the corner flag and Karl Murray's cross was perfect for McAllister to nod in unopposed, as Purdie had allowed him too much space, at the far post.

Graham Turner didn't make any changes at the break, but four minutes after the restart he did; James was replaced by Dean Beckwith and six minutes later Fleetwood made way for Adam Stansfield. United were dominant in the second half and had all the goalscoring opportunities, but didn't look likely to make the break-through. Daryl Taylor headed wide a cross from Alex Jeannin before Taylor had another effort, this time Andy Williams the provider, when he cut inside from the right and shot wide of the far post.

With eleven minutes left on the clock Jamie Pitman was introduced in place of King and The Bulls seemed to become more threatening again. A good succession of passes allowed the ball to find its way to Williams on the edge of the box, but his turn and shot was tipped away by the outstretched hand of Shwan Jalal. Jeannin lofted in a free kick as United pressed forward, but Stansfield shot into the arms of Jalal after Taylor had headed on but finally Hereford equalised with eighty nine minutes on the clock. Green took a throw in, which was returned by Taylor, and the Welsh man crossed right onto the head of the magnificent Tamika Mkandawire, who headed into the top right hand corner, much to the delight of the 300 or so away fans, in a crowd of 1,929.

A good point it turned out to be, in a game of two halfs. United were more than deserving of their late equaliser, as they had swept the hosts aside in the second half. It was only a lapse of concentration that gave Woking a look in, as McAllister's marker went awol in the very final minute of injury time at the end of the first half. A draw was not such a bad result though, as many other teams hopeful of the play offs drew also. Only Exeter and Grays in the top nine won today.

HUFC: Brown, Green, Mkandawire, James, Jeannin, Purdie, Stanley, King, Taylor, Williams, Fleetwood. Subs: Beckwith, Mawson, Pitman, Nicolau, Stansfield.

WFC: Jalal, Jackson, Nethercott, Hutchinson, MacDonald, Murray, Smith, Evans, Liam Cockerill, McAllister , Ferguson. Subs: El-Salahi, Davies, Sam Cockerill, Oyedele, Blackman.