Hereford United came from behind for the second successive away game to claim a priceless away victory at local rivals Shrewsbury town. Asa Hall had blasted Shrewsbury into the lead after breaking from midfield, before Simon Johnson's close-range rebound levelled proceedings. Gary Hooper, pictured, grabbed the winner mid-way through the second half when he nodded in to send the away following of 1,655 into raptures.
Two changes were made from last weekend's home victory over Chesterfield with both coming in central midfield. Kris Taylor was demoted to the bench, despite impressing in recent games, with Ben Smith making a return. Sam Gwynne was out altogether, with new loan signing Stephen Gleeson joining Smith. Former Conference hotshots Guy Madjo and James Constable started up front for The Shrews, whilst under pressure manager Gary Peters handed a debut to left-back James Meredith.
The Bulls mustered up the first opportunity of the first half, with Sherjill Macdonald shooting over after linking up with Hooper on the edge of the box. Moments after, Shrewsbury took the lead with Hall netting in the sixth minute. Madjo turned Beckwith in the middle of the park, and played a sidewards pass to the onrushing Hall, who had burst from midfield in acres of space. The former Birmingham youngster struck powerfully past Wayne Brown from 18 yards to hand first blood to the hosts. Smith tried his best to bring things level against his old club, but a low long shot went wide. The half passed with some neat football, but little in the way of goalmouth action until Hereford got the equaliser.
It came following a fine flowing move, involving the likes of Macdonald, Hooper and Clint Easton on the edge of the area, with Macdonald bursting into the box. His low cross was met by Hooper, who saw his initial shot blocked, and second shot be pushed away by Glyn Garner, before Johnson finally found the back of the net by smashing in from close-range. The half ended with a series of half-chances; firstly Smith shot from a Macdonald lay-off, but again it went wide, whilst Kelvin Langmead's header went over from a Marc Pugh corner. Finally, Macdonald shot weakly at Garner from outside the area, before Uriah Rennie blew up for half-time.
The second half started with Hooper trying his luck, following again some good attacking football, and close knit passing. The ball fell to the on loan Southend striker from the left-hand side of the box, but his low shot was held by Garner. At the other end, Ben Herd's long shot was routinely held by Brown before Constable neatly turned on the edge of the area, but his end shot was woeful and nearer the corner flag down the goal. Steven Leslie replaced Darren Moss for the home side, as they continued to probe with some half-chances. Madjo directed the ball goalwards after a deep cross from Herd wasn't fully cleared, but the ball fell past the post.
Then the moment came when United grabbed the win. It came following some fantastic football, with Macdonald the star. He won the ball on the half-way line, before turning and running at the defence, using his strength and pace to good effect. Hooper collected a low-pass from his strike partner, before feeding the ball out to Johnson on the right-wing. The goalscorer crossed to the back-post where Macdonald headed down and Hooper nodded in past Garner in front of the away end. A fantastic end to a fine move. Hooper's confidence was shown minutes later, as was Johnson's as they linked-up once more, but the end product from Johnson let him down as he sent a half-volley into the arms of Garner.
Chris Humphrey came on for Pugh, as Shrewsbury injected some pace to their wing and they came mighty close to equalising when McIntyre went forward. A deep cross to the back-post was headed back to McIntyre who sent a flying volley inches past Brown's post. Andy Cooke came on in place of Meredith, as Shrewsbury added another attacking option, whilst Theo Robinson replaced Macdonald. The Watford loanee was soon in the action, setting up Gleeson for a sliced half-volley, before shooting himself into the advertising boards from an acute angle. Easton didn't finish the game, as Threlfall took his place, as Hereford looked to see out the closing stages but Shrewsbury came close to snatching a point. Again, a deep-cross to the back-post caused problems, and this time Madjo rose well to head down, but the ball fell just past the near post. Trevor Benjamin came on for Hooper for the final few minutes, and after the three added minutes were filled with whistles from the away end, Uriah Rennie did the honours and blew the all important whistle.
The result now means Hereford have won five on the bounce, and are looking good in the automatic promotion places. 7,402 were present at Oteley Road as United edged a close-game. Again, Macdonald and Hooper did well up front together, with the latter now scoring in his last five games. Gleeson made his debut in central midfield, and looked tidy, without being spectacular. Up next for The Whites is a long trip to Dagenham on Tuesday night; after the 4-1 victory against The Daggers in early February, United must be confident they can complete their third double of the season following previous doubles over Bradford, and Shrewsbury today.
Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Beckwith, McCombe, Rose, Johnson, Smith, Gleeson, Easton, Hooper, Macdonald.
Subs: Ingham, Threlfall, Taylor, Benjamin, Robinson.
Shrewsbury: Garner, Moss, Langmead, Tierney, Meredith, Herd, Hall, McIntyre, Pugh, Constable, Madjo.
Subs: Bevan, Hunt, Leslie, Humphrey, Cooke.