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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From The Archives - Hereford Win At Stalybridge

Fifteen years ago today Hereford United travelled to Stalybridge Celtic for a Conference League fixture.

Here's a report on the match:

Aug 23rd (2001):

STALYBRIDGE Celtic 0 - 2 Hereford United

Hereford United made just their second ever trip to Bower Fold today to play Stalybridge Celtic and in both encounters have collected maximum points after 3-0 and 2-0 victories. Graham Turner's side had to get back to winning ways following their humiliating 2-0 defeat at Nuneaton Borough on Tuesday night.

Stalybridge Celtic boss Paul Futcher named an unchanged side from the one that beat Morecambe 4-3 on Tuesday night, whilst Hereford's director of football Graham Turner made two changes, with Scott Goodwin dropping out injured and John Snape just dropping out for recent signing Christian James and on-loan midfielder Paul Webb.

The game started brightly with both sides putting themselves about, but it was soon clear that Hereford United were to be overrun by Stalybridge Celtic. The opening few minutes saw half chances from Elmes and Gavin Williams but Celtic soon started pressurising Matt Baker's goal. Ged Courtney squared the ball to Matt McNeil, and the striker hit it just wide.

Matt Baker was called into real action after twelve minutes when Courtney got in front of the Hereford defence, and Baker was forced to make a point blank save to prevent Celtic taking the lead. In midfield, Paul Webb did alot of shouting but little passing and tackling, although he did increasingly become promenant in the game later on. The defence also appeared suspect allowing too many Celtic attempts on goal.

Steve Bushell tested Baker again midway through the half, a low shot from twenty five yards being stopped by United's goalkeeper, and five minutes later Courtney narrowly missed a header with it flying just wide of the post. On the half hour, Bushell was one-on-one with Baker and was sure to take the lead, but hit narrowly wide as again poor finishing turned out to be United's saviour.

Stalybridge striker Matt McNeil was removed a minute later with a slight knock, and Andy Evans replaced him but the change made little difference to Hereford as on thirty two minutes, Paul Futcher's son Ben headed just wide from a free kick in an acute position to the right of goal. Celtic's domination of the game at this point was almost 70% of the possession.

A minute after Futcher's effort, Ian Rodgerson went down with a knee injury. Graham Turner had options on the bench so chose to remove him, and replaced him with John Snape who, so far, had been sorely missed in midfield. Initially the move made little difference. Matt Baker had to make a agile double save from a Celtic corner to keep Ben Futcher's headed effort out which was eventually cleared. It was only Baker's goakeeping and the excellent movement by the young Paul Parry which kept the travelling Hereford support of 200 or so content.

Ian Wright went close with three minutes left and in injury time, Hereford again defended desperately to keep Celtic out. Something had to change at the break.

And so it did. Midfielder Christian James was removed for Steve Piearce which gave United an extra attacking option. There were few chances in the opening minutes from either side but Stalybridge must have felt hard-done-by not to have been leading at half time after completely dominating the play.

On fifty eight minutes, Gavin Williams made a good cross for Rob Elmes to head goalwards beyond the far post. However, the ball rolled in front of goal with nobody on hand to tap in the effort. Two minutes later, Hereford had a corner. Paul Parry whipped it in from the left hand side for Rob Elmes to connect onto with his head. The effort was clean and strong, leaving goalkeeper Gary Ingham with no chance from six yards out.

Hereford suddenly came to life. Paul Webb headed over from a corner, Mark Williams missed the target by inches following a Gavin Williams cross, and Matt Baker had no problems when Futcher headed straight at him. With sixteen minutes left, Steve Bushell ran one-on-one past the Hereford defence to face Matt Baker, and somehow, the goalkeeper tipped the ball wide for a corner when it seemed almost easier to score.

A minute later, Stalybridge were made to pay for their missed effort. A long ball from the right hand side from Gavin Williams following good play between him and Clarke was to provide a challenging catch for the goalkeeper. He rushed out, missed it, and Rob Elmes was on hand to tap in from close range.

A late rally from Celtic could do nothing as Hereford United held on for their second win in three games. Stalybridge's inability to convert chances into goals cost them dear and Hereford managed to make the best of their efforts when they didn't play particularly well. A mention must go the referee Hatkins, who did well to keep the game flowing.

Hereford are just a point behind leaders Northwich Victoria on six points, whilst Jimmy Quinn's side have seven. Stalybridge have won one game out of three, but look good enough to stay up despite being favourites for the drop.

Starting XI: Matt Baker, Matt Clarke, Mark Williams, Paul Webb, Ian Wright (captain), Tony James, Ian Rodgerson (off, 31 minutes), Christian James (off, 45 minutes,) Rob Elmes, Gavin Williams, Paul Parry
Subs: John Snape (on, 31 minutes), Lee Evans, Steve Piearce (on, 45 minutes), Danny Davidson, Paul Marshall
Yellow cards: Ian Wright (57 minutes, foul,) Steve Piearce (90 minutes, foul)
Scorers: Rob Elmes (59 minutes, 74 mintues)
Attendance: 851
Man of the Match: Paul Parry
Referee: Mr. G. Hatkins (Bradford)

UNITED striker Rob Elmes was delighted with his two goals at Bower Fold against Stalybridge Celtic yesterday in the Nationwide Conference.

"I was on the spot to take advantage of Gary dropping the ball," said Elmes. "But to be fair it was a good cross from Gavin Williams that made him stretch. I checked my run in and pulled off to the back post. Their defence missed it and I just headed it in."

Stalybridge boss Paul Futcher was clearly disappointed with the defeat after dominating the game for the first half and most of the second.

"When you should have been two up at half-time losing the way we did is hard to take." said Futcher.

Meanwhile, Jan Molby has told the official Kidderminster Harriers website about Paul Webb's move to Hereford. “The period at Hereford should do him the world of good. Webby is the type of player that needs matches to get fit and I think he has around eight matches in the next month at Hereford in which he can do that”, Molby said.

“Webby knows he has a lot of work to do to push himself back into contention here and playing reserve football will not help his case”, Molby said, “I know Graham Turner is a big fan of his and I’m confident he will do a good job there.”