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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wembley! Wembley!

Hereford FC sealed their place at Wembley in the FA Vase Final with a 2-1 away victory at Salisbury, winning the semi-final tie overall 3-1 and booking a trip to the famous arch in May against Morpeth Town. The hosts took the lead through defender Steve Walker but Hereford hit back before half-time through Mike Symons. The Bulls dominated the second period but Mustapha Bundu's missed penalty increased nerves before sub Joe Tumelty made sure of progression with a cool finish. 

The pre match decision for Peter Beadle was whether to introduce John Mills up top but stuck to his guns, leaving Symons to lead the line. The hosts made three changes to their team to freshen up their approach following the narrow defeat at Edgar Street a week earlier. 

Salisbury made their intentions clear early on - by swiping down Bundu on the left with a crude tackle. 

A yellow card was the reward for Walker. A 30 yard free-kick from Bundu was held by the 'keeper before the home team started to make inroads to the Bulls' defence, Taurean Roberts found space on the left but his left-foot shot was blocked by the covering Joel Edwards. 

In the 18th minute, Salisbury took the lead and increased the nerves of the Hereford fans. A long ball was punted into the Hereford box and despite having opportunities to clear, the ball bounced around and fell to Walker who fired across Martyn Horsell and into the corner. The home crowd found their voice and Salisbury were on the front foot. Brandon Mundy was finding space in between the Hereford defence and midfield and after Ryan Green had backed off, Mundy fired at Horsell. Minutes later Mundy escaped the intentions of Aaron Birch but couldn't hit the target from outside the box. 

In the 41st minute the game was turned on its head as Hereford found the equaliser in front of the Salisbury support. Pablo Haysham dropped deep to receive the ball and sprayed a pass to the right wing to Ross Staley. He cut in onto his favoured left foot and shot goalwards with the ball looping up off a defender but breaking at the back-post to Symons who diverted into the back of the net first time. 

Mike Symons Scores For Hereford

Despite a poor first period, the proceedings on the day were level and it was all to play for in the second half. 

The second half was a different spectacle - Hereford were dominant from the first whistle and Salisbury lacked the intensity that their first half had displayed. Rob Purdie played a pass down the left wing to Bundu, who skipped past his man before a dangerous low cross to the near post was cleared for a corner with Haysham threatening. There was a better chance to follow; Bundu received a superbly weighted through ball by Haysham which sent the Hartbury student racing through on goal but he lacked the composure to beat Charlie Searle who blocked well. 

Steve Claridge made changes just shy of the hour mark. Daniel Young and Ashley Jarvis came on in place of Mundy and George Colson respectively. In truth it had little effect on the one way traffic as Hereford continued to work towards the home team's goal. Bundu was involved again, curling into Searle's arms from the left having dispossessed the Salisbury right-back. 

Hereford had their best opportunity to go in front midway through the second half when they were awarded a penalty. Haysham chased down a lost cause on the left wing and cut in to the box before being bundled in the back and the ref immediately awarded the penalty. 

Bundu grabbed the ball in front of the travelling army but saw his shot from 12 yards pushed away by Searle. Bundu tried to redeem himself minutes later when he received a pass from Symons and jinked past two defenders but a low left foot shot was turned around the post by Searle again. Tumelty was introduced for Staley as Hereford looked to freshen up their attacking options. 

Salisbury rarely threatened the Hereford defence and when they did, they couldn't test Horsell. A corner from the left bounced past a number of defenders to Samuel Wilson at the back stick but his lashed half volley hit the side netting. The decisive goal of the game was in the 78th minute as Tumelty struck. Hereford broke again on the left and Haysham's cut back broke to Tumelty, who composed himself before placing the ball into the corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations from the away end.

Joe Tumelty Scored Hereford's Winning Goal
Jamie Willets replaced Bundu as Beadle looked to protect the lead but it was still Hereford who looked the most likely to score. Tumelty was crudely bought down by Kane O'Keefe and Purdie struck the free kick against the base of the post. 

Joe Tumelty, Rob Purdie And Pablo Haysham
In stoppage time, a huge boot forward was battled for by Symons, who outmuscled two defenders but saw his low shot blocked by Searle. A 35 yard shot in the 93rd minute by Salisbury cleared the home stand and summed up their day. From the resulting goal kick, the referee blew and Hereford FC were confirmed as being on their way to Wembley. 

The emotions in the away end summed up the achievement with the happiness evident on all Hereford supporters faces. The past few years of supporting our famous little club has had its downs but now there are more ups under the new regime, giving us hope for the future. Having never been to Wembley before it's going to be a great occasion for the club and the city of Hereford. Bring your friends, and bring their friends and their friends again. 

On the day, Hereford looked nervous but grew into it and were a class above in the second half. Ryan Green was excellent at the back, but there were touches of class from both Bundu and Haysham in the final third. A mention for the away support too, all 657 of them who made their voices heard and have been the twelfth man throughout the season. With the euphoria of reaching a Wembley final, it's dangerous to take the eye of the prize of the league. Alvechurch bounced back from their midweek defeat with an impressive 3-0 win at AFC Wulfrunians and Hereford need to react with a win on Tuesdsy evening, when they entertain Loughborough University. 

Hereford: Horsell, Oates, Green, Summers, Edwards, Staley, Birch, Purdie, Bundu, Haysham, Symons. 

Subs: Willets, Grant, Bonella, Tumelty, Mills. 

Salisbury: Searle, Colson, Perrett, Whelan, Walker, Wheeler, Demkiv, O'Keefe, Wilson, Mundy, Roberts. 

Subs: Jarvis, White, Matthews, Young, Roberts. 

Attendance 3450

BN Man Of The Match: Mike Symons