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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Road to Wembley: Hereford Win Semi Final First Leg

In the penultimate Road to Wembley article, here's a reminder of the semi final first leg victory over fellow phoenix club Salisbury. Both clubs have since been promoted from their respective leagues, and will be playing each other in the Southern League Division 1 South & West next season.

The Meadow End ahead of kick off

Edgar Street saw its fourth 4000+ attendance of the season, with the record Hereford FC attendance being broken for a second time. There was also a Fan Zone outside Edgar Street, which was extremely popular with the sun beaming down on Hereford.

Face-painting in the Fan Zone

Hereford got play underway and attacked the extremely vocal Meadow End in the first half. Seconds after kick off Aaron Birch was left lying in need of treatment following a high kick by Salisbury’s skipper Kane O’Keefe, which resulted in the midfielder playing the rest of the game with a bandaged head.

Aaron Birch
With the resulting free kick taken short to Ryan Green, he found Mike Symons on the left flank with a diagonal ball; Symons delivered a floating cross into the box to the head of Ross Staley, but his effort was too high to trouble Charlie Searle in the Salisbury goal.

The half was dominated by Hereford, and like Highgate in the last match, Salisbury were a very physical side. The Bulls kept pressing Salisbury’s defence, but weren’t able to create a clear-cut chance until the 39th minute when Mike Symons broke away down the left. With some neat footwork, Symons worked the ball into the box, but he dragged his right-footed effort wide of the mark.

5 minutes later Ross Staley whipped in a cross from the right into the path of the advancing Pablo Haysham, but when trying to get something on the cross, blatantly handled the ball to redirect it past the keeper and into the back of the net. Despite this, the referee initially awarded the goal with the linesman not flagging, but after protests from Salisbury Boss Steve Claridge and the rest of the squad, the referee eventually reversed his decision and disallowed Haysham’s goal.

Pablo Haysham celebrates before his goal was disallowed

Hereford were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second period, scoring 4 minutes after the restart. Salisbury were under pressure with Mike Symons in possession in front of goal, but substitute Elliot Wheeler did manage to clear the ball as far as Jimmy Oates who was in space on the edge of the box. Amongst a congested penalty area, Oates’s cross found Mustapha Bundu at the far post who powerfully headed home to open the scoring.

Jimmy Oates with the cross
Which Mustapha  Bundu heads towards goal
And into the back of the net!

Hereford were then extremely unlucky not to grab a second 12 minutes later, being denied twice by the woodwork. Jimmy Oates played a neat cross field ball to Mustapha Bundu who did well to control the ball with a great touch. After beating his man, Bundu whipped in a cross from a tight angle on the left, but Ross Staley's rising effort from point blank range hit the underside of the crossbar, before his header from the rebound was denied by the upright.

Hereford’s goalkeeper Martin Horsell pulled off a fine save in the 81st minute to deny Salisbury an equaliser from what was their only real clear-cut chance of the game. With Salisbury taking a free kick short to Thomas Whelan, he played the ball into the box, finding Stephen Walter at the far post. Walter’s powerful headed effort was pushed behind with a  brilliant reflex save by Horsell for a corner which Salisbury couldn’t capitalise on.

Players applaud the Hereford support at full time

FT: Hereford 1 – Salisbury 0
Att: 4,683 with 537 from Wiltshire
Sponsors’ MotM: Ryan Green

Hereford: Horsell, Oates, Green, Summers, Edwards, Staley (Grant – 77’), Birch, Purdie, Bundu, Haysham (Bonella – 87’), Symons (Mills – 84’).

Subs not used: Willets, Pilling.

SeeBlocker's report can be read in full here (link).