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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Red for Green as Bulls Soundly Defeated

This afternoon's match report has been written by Terry Goodwin.

Two late goals and a red card for captain Ryan Green summed up another away day disappointment for Hereford United as they lost 4-1, suffering their biggest League defeat of the season to date.

Rochdale were stronger, more organised, and more clinical than the Bulls at a sunny Spotland, and on this performance, they can expect to be among the play-off candidates in League Two this season.

Hereford went into the game boosted by last week's 2-0 win over Accrington, and they should take heart by elements of their showing at Spotland. But some weaknesses were exposed by Rochdale, who edged the first half, and grew in stature as the second progressed.

John Trewick made one change, loan signing James Walker replacing the departed Marlon Jackson, and at times going forward, the Bulls showed some very good spells. There was an understanding between Sam Gwynne, Walker, Craig King and Mark Marshall which led to some exciting moments, particularly in the first half. Marshall whipped in several telling crosses to signal his intentions, although Rochdale tended to dominate.

Walker tested the Rochdale goalkeeper Kenny Arthur in the early stages, while Will Buckley forced Adam Bartlett into an early save too. Defensively, Hereford were unsure of themselves in the early stages, despite the leadership of Ryan Green, who continued as captain. It's not surprising that the Bulls' players are still learning about each others' games - only five of those starting this match opened the season at Morecambe in August.

Hereford pushed on through Craig King, who took a good touch before volleying just wide, but on 19 minutes, Rochdale struck. From the right channel, Gary Jones took the ball past a defender and then fed a low cross to Buckley. His shot was pushed away by Bartlett, but Chris Dagnall fired a low strike into the net to put the home side ahead. Hereford were left short at the back, but Gwynne had been held down in the midfield as Rochdale moved forward.

Within four minutes, the Bulls were level. Marshall and King linked well, before a low pass found Marc Pugh at the far post. Pugh struck a foot out, enough to get a clean touch, to find the net.

Hereford had the opportunity to build on the goal. Pugh fired at the goalkeeper, while Marshall continued to cause problems for Rochdale, and King shot across the face of goal after another decent move forward.

On the stroke of half time, Rochdale broke away from a Hereford attack. They held the ball up, allowing a swift attack, and the ball was fed through to Simon Whaley who struck home when one-on-one with Bartlett. Despite the setback, the Bulls' players looked relatively upbeat coming off at the break.

Rochdale stepped up a gear after the restart, and were positive from the outset. They kept Hereford at bay, and for periods looked content with their single goal advantage. Bartlett was called into action on a couple of occasions, and the best Hereford could muster was a shot on the turn from Walker which went straight into the arms of Arthur.

Ryan Green picked up a yellow card for a foul of Dagnall, and Trewick opted to shuffle the pack. Pugh, who had had a quieter second half, was replaced, with Matt Done coming on, but it did little to inspire Hereford.

With ten minutes left, Rochdale's Tom Kennedy swung in a long corner, and Bartlett saved after a scramble in the six yard box. But his push away fell to Buckley, and he drilled into the roof of the net to make it 3-1.

Three minutes later, another Rochdale corner, and another goal, this time from Craig Dawson. The ball was flicked on in the area, and the unmarked Dawson scored on the turn. It cued chants of "easy" from the home fans, and many of the away supporters had seen enough, and headed for the exits.

Rochdale looked for a fifth, as O'Grady fired into the side netting, while the increasingly frustrated Gwynne, pictured, was booked after reacting to a challenge from Rochdale defender Tom Wiseman.

Then, two minutes into injury time, there was insult to injury for Hereford. Green pulled back a Rochdale player, picked up a second yellow card, and got the first use of the hot water. He will miss Tuesday's home match against Bournemouth.

The result means Hereford drop a place to twenty-first.

ROCHDALE: Arthur, Wiseman, Tom Kennedy, Stanton, Dawson, Jason Kennedy, Jones, Whaley (Thompson, 77), Buckley, O'Grady, Dagnall. Subs not used: Edwards, Flynn, Rundle, Holness, Spencer, Stephens

HEREFORD: Bartlett, Green, Valentine, Lunt, Pugh (Done, 72), Gwynne, Jones, King, Blanchett, Marshall, Walker. Subs not used: Rose, Lowe, Constantine, Sonko, Adamson, McCallum.
Bookings: Jones, Green (x2), Gwynne

ATTENDANCE: 2,620 (around 150 away fans)