West Brom showed their class to defeat Hereford tonight in a closely contested game. Second half strikes from Darren Carter and Sherjill MacDonald were enough for last seasons Championship play-off finalists to overcome The Bulls, who once again, had a mixture of trialists and first team players on show.
Defender Joey Hutchinson started after his second half appearence at Bath whilst Sam Gwynne partnered Ben Smith in midfield. There was a first start for recent signing Clint Easton on the left wing, with the right wing being occupied by trialist Alastair John from Charlton. West Brom lined up with many familiar footballing names including new signing Leon Barnett, Darren Carter and Nathan Ellington.
Within the first minute, Hereford could have been in front. John paced down the right wing, before his cross caught Baggie's 'keeper Luke Daniels off guard and the ball struck the bar. Easton followed up but his effort was blocked. Minutes later, Easton struck a long range shot into the arms of Daniels, before Chaplow tried his luck at the other end, but his long-range effort failed to trouble Wayne Brown. Both sides passed the ball around nicely, on the impressive Edgar Street pitch, but few chances were created, with both defences dominant.
Towards the end of the half though, Steve Guinan came close on two seperate occasions. It was John again down the right wing who created the opportunity, with a low cross, and Guinan swivelled to powerfully shoot, but Daniels made a good reaction save to keep the ball out. Then came Guinan's second chance, this time it was Smith who provided the cross and Guinan headed narrowly over the bar from six yards.
The second half saw a change of goalkeepers for both sides, with Daniels replaced by Luke Steele for The Baggies, and Karl Lewis took the place of Brown for United. Early on, MacDonald raced down the left wing before cutting in and striking goalwards, but Lewis got his fingertips to it to divert the shot onto the post. Then Lewis made another decent save, this time tipping an Ellington toe-poke out for a corner. However, Lewis could do nothing about the opener for West Brom, Carter was given too much room outside the area, and he turned, and struck a right hand shot into the far corner, much to the delight of the 400 or so Baggies fans.
Graham Turner took the decision to make changes soon after the goal, with John McCombe, Kris Taylor, Luke Webb and Simon Johnson taking the places of Joey Hutchinson, Ben Smith, Clint Easton and Steve Guinan respectively. However, concentration was lost from these changes and immediately after the substitutes, West Brom scored again. A long ball over the top was not dealt with by McCombe, and MacDonald raced clear and slid the ball past Lewis and into the net. Hereford responded to the goal well, and were nearly rewarded with a goal after the best move of the match. Taylor played a fantastic through ball to Johnson up front, who had the vision to play in Webb, but his shot was superbly kept out by West Brom goalie Steele. Before Steele had the chance to get back into position, Taylor set himself up superbly and volleyed inches wide from 20 yards, with Steele seemingly beaten. Marcus Palmer, Jordan Fitzpatrick and Lionel Ainsworth were given short appearences late on replacing Steve Guinan, Sam Gwynne and Alastair John but all three had little time to impress. Taylor tried his luck on a couple of occasions for Hereford, narrowly missing with some good efforts, whilst in the last minute, Ellington curled a free-kick over the bar.
Tonight was a sterner test for Hereford, and in the end, the quality of the oppostion was too much for United. Richard Rose again had a very solid game at left-back, a position the former Gillingham man will no doubt be looking to make his own. Also impressing were trialist Hutchinson in the centre of defence, and in the second half, midfielder Taylor, who looked to be the creative spark for Hereford, whilst also having an eye for goal. An attendance of 1405 saw the friendly.
Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Hutchinson, Broadhurst, Rose, John, Smith, Gwynne, Easton, Guinan, Zebroski.
Subs: Lewis, McCombe, Taylor, Webb, Ainsworth, Fitzpatrick, Johnson, Palmer, Trialist Number 19
West Brom: Daniels, Albrechtsen, Mason, Wallwork, Barnett, Chaplow, Worrell, Carter, MacDonald, Ellington, Nicholson.