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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Extra time Mills breaks Camberley hearts

John Mills
John Mills struck with a minute remaining of extra-time to put Hereford FC into the semi-finals of the FA Vase at the expense of a spirited Camberley Town, eventually winning 3-2. The visitors were unlucky in defeat and led at half-time courtesy of a header from Adam Bunyan. Mustapha Bundu levelled proceedings from the penalty spot, before Bunyan again poked home. Hereford however continued to probe and were rewarded when Mike Symons diverted the ball into the back of the net to force extra time. Both sides had chances to win it before Mills fired in from close-range to send the Meadow End into raptures.

Peter Beadle made two changes from the team that comfortably overcame Sporting Khalsa in midweek. Harvey Rivers was replaced by Martin Horsell in between the sticks and Nathan Summers had recovered from illness to take the place of Ryan Green, who started his three-match ban for his dismissal at Hartley Witney.

Hereford attacked the Blackfriars End in the first-period but the majority of the early stages was at the Meadow End, with the away side pumping long balls towards the Bulls' back-line. It was Hereford though who had the first real opportunity; Bundu made room on the left to roam past his marker and his cut-back was cleared from danger by the defender. Camberley also had a chance throygh Bobby Dormer but his rising shot from 20 yards was never troubling Horsell.

Mid-way through the first-half, Camberley took the lead. Summers was booked for tugging back at the away team's number 9, who was looking to break towards goal. A right-foot cross towards the back-post was met by Bunyan, who rose above Jamie Willets to power a header in off the post.

The home team were struggling to deal with the tricky weather conditions, with Camberley looking fairly comfortable at the back. However, it was Bundu who was the threat collecting a pass from Dylan Bonella and going down under inside the box but the ref adjudged it a dive and duly booked Bundu. On reflection of the highlight video, it looked as though it was the correct decision. 

The Sierra Leonean had another chance minutes from the interval when good work down the right allowed Jimmy Oates to send a deep cross to the back-post and Bundu controlled but the ball sat up and when he eventually struck goalwards, the 'keeper Craig Bradshaw denied him by with a strong reflex save.

Hereford were forced into a half-time change as Pablo Haysham went off with an injury, and Rob Purdie took his place. Yet, Camberley were still the side threatening and a Dormer header went-close. At the other end, Aaron Birch fed Bundu in a great position on the left but his first-touch was heavy and was gathered by Bradshaw. The Meadow End were in fine voice and calls for Mills were answered just after the hour mark, as he replaced Joe Tumelty. Minutes later, Mills had twisted past his marker, not once but twice and leaving him flat on the floor before crossing to the back-post where Symons threatened but the ball hit a defensive hand, and the referee awarded a penalty. Bundu, fresh from his spot-kick in mid-week against Khalsa, picked up the ball and sent it down the middle to equalise.

Purdie lashed a shot over from 25 yards as the home crowd were eager for Hereford to push on but the visitors had other ideas and went ahead once again. Camberley worked a move up the right-wing and a pass inside was deflected into the path of Bunyan, who beat Horsell to the ball to nick it goalwards with his left boot. Despite Oates' best efforts to clear off the line, the linesman flagged and Camberley were 2-1 up. 

Bundu forced a smart save from the feet of Bradshaw before Hereford equalised minutes later. Bonella's pass was knocked into the path of Purdie by Birch; the sub composed himself and chipped a cross to the back-post where Mills headed down into the path of Symons, who flicked into the net from four yards. 

Bonella nearly found the far post with a curling left-foot shot, after his initial corner couldn't beat the first defender and Bonella also flashed a sweet half-volley wide off the target. With five minutes added on at the end of the ninety, Hereford were lucky to escape with extra time when Camberley broke on the right-wing. Perry Coles got past Edwards and his powerful strike from an angle was blocked by Horsell and a follow up effort from the same player was blocked.

In to extra time we went with the game on a knife edge. The visitors were starting to tire and Coles was on his last legs but was forced to continue as Camberley had made their three subs for the afternoon. Good hold up play from Symons allowed him to find Purdie, who set up Bundu. The winger hit it first-time, curling a right-foot shot from 20 yards off the post with the 'keeper rooted to the spot; the follow-up effort from Mills went wide but he was given offside.

Ross Staley was introduced as Symons pulled up just before half-time in extra time. The former Shortwood winger nearly made an instant impact, his direct running style saw him ghost past a couple of defenders and create room for a shot but a low drive was pushed away by Bradshaw. Hereford pressed on in the second fifteen minutes, with Mills firing over from the edge of the box with a volley and Purdie's low shot pushed behind by Bradshaw. It all looked set for a replay until the final minute of the game when Camberley's resistance was broken and Hereford found the winner.

Staley took a quick throw on the left-wing to Edwards, who cut inside his marker to play a one-two with Birch. The return ball was driven low by Edwards and Mills found half a yard at the front post on his marker to superbly touch home with his right-foot past Bradshaw. Cue pandemonium from the home support and the Hereford players alike. Heartbreak for Camberley but delirium for Hereford.

Joel Edwards Crosses To John Mills Who Made No Mistake

It was pulsating cup tie, fitting in terms of non-league football for its determination and drama. Camberley can be proud of their efforts; they pushed Hereford all the way and if the game went to a replay, there could have been no complaints from either team. Yet, it was a little bit of quality at the end of the game from Mills, with a deft finish under intense pressure, fitting of the season that the 41 goal striker is having. Only Salisbury progressed in the FA Vase today, with Kidlington and Bowers Pitsea sharing spoils 3-3. Bristol Manor Farm's long trip to Morpeth was called off yesterday so Monday's draw still has an element of uncertainty to it. The semi finals will be played on March 12th and 19th, which means the Loughborough University home tie, and Long Eaton away tie will fall foul to more postponements.

Next up for Beadle's men is the visit of Highgate in the league on Tuesday. Highgate were beaten 3-1 today at Brocton but should give Hereford a stiff test, having won the reverse game at the start of the season 2-1.

Hereford: Horsell, Oates, Summers, Willets, Edwards, Tumelty, Birch, Bonella, Bundu, Haysham, Symons.

Subs: Purdie, Staley, Pilling, Grant, Mills.

Camberley: Bradshaw, Webb, Ford, Sowden, Ellis, Jewell, Emmerson, Bunyan, Coles, Lazarczuk, Dormer.

Subs: Hubbard, Cousins, Hoppitt, Humphrey, Jewell.

Attendance: 3329 

Video of the game: