Next Game: Preseason Friendly - Evesham Away on Tuesday 17th July at 7.45pm

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Hereford Have To Dig Deep For A Draw At North Leigh

Players Celebrate After John Mills Scores Hereford's Third Goal
On a very misty and foggy evening, Hereford FC took on what turned out to be their biggest challenge of the season so far when they met North Leigh away at Eynsham Park in front of a 366 crowd.

Led out by Captain Joel Edwards, the Bulls, as league leaders, anticipated a straightforward match against the Yellows sitting 24 points below on the league table. With only one change to the line up from Saturdays match against Salisbury, Edge taking the place of Purdie who was home ill, and playing in Red & Black Hereford didn't come out of the traps with the same gusto as of recent games that the fans expected.

North Leigh, playing downhill (a 12ft+ drop from one goal mouth to the other!) in the first half seemed to be only fractionally more on the attack than the Bulls opening their chances with a stray cross in the Hereford half for a first shot straight at Harris in goal. Hereford with a chance of a throw in, up the slope but North Leigh have a mission to defend and Hereford can make no inroads. Haysham & Edge working together to try to move the ball into the North Leigh half only results in a throw in down by the right hand corner flag, again cleared for another throw in along the sideline.

A chance for Haysham with a run forward (uphill) and a diagonal shot across the goal takes a deflection and goes wide for a corner which again is cleared back to the centre line, Hereford gaining possession back up the hill through to Edwards but the ball is effectively blocked for a goal kick sending the Bulls back into their own half. North Leigh passing with ease for an excellent build up finally blocked by Green for a corner. The corner is weak and easily cleared for Molyneux on the break up-field, the strong defence denying any chance of a shot and forcing a goal kick. The ball is met by Edge in midfield, finding space to move the ball out to Molyneux, through to Symons giving Haysham a shot but only finds the side netting.

Both teams level of possession is evenly matched as the ball is sent back down the slope into the Hereford half and our for a goal kick by Harris. At this point, there is a delay as Harris is not happy with the ball and after an inspection, the Ref calls for an alternative for play to continue. Hereford keep possession from the goal kick, Edwards with a cross to Symons but is given offside. The ball back down the slope again but a foul 30 yards out opens up the possibility of a shot on goal for Nor Lye, the ball sailing over the top of the 3 man wall and over the goal for a goal kick.

Molyneux now with a chance outside the North Leigh penalty area, the cross once more blocked for a corner, taken by Molyneux across the pitch and thought to have gone out over the line but the Ref waves play on, the ball now with Symons as he heads down towards goal, going wide but lack of pace makes an easy take for the keeper. A free kick minutes later heads deep into the Hereford half and a flick into the area for a goal shot is taken on by Murphy with a driving shot into the corner of the net. GOAL! 20 minutes in and Hereford go 1-0 down.

Hereford reeling from this take possession, Symons with a controlled ball to Haysham, through to Edge who equally drives a powerful shot at the North Leigh keeper, who at full stretch manages to get a hand to it and push the ball away. The game gaining more pace now, Plummer is tripped up in the penalty area but an appeal is waved away for Symons to be brought down shortly after, the free kick taken by McGrath to be headed away for a corner.

Hereford with possession sees Green with a run into the North Leigh half through to Molyneux and Symons but tackled to send the ball back towards the Hereford defence, Fortune 1 on 1 with Gray, a mistake by Fortune 25 yards out, toying with the ball rather than clearing, gives Gray the opportunity to take the ball for a shot into the top corner, Harris at full stretch but the pace is too strong for GOAL number 2. Hereford are now 2-0 down – 36 minutes gone.

Less than 4 minutes later, Hereford still not in control of the match are caught on the hop again with no cover for the ball in defence and a wide open area gives North Leigh their 3rd chance with a curling shot at goal 30 yards out, straight over the defence into the left hand top corner of the net. GOAL! Hereford now 3-0 down just before half time.

Back in the North Leigh half Symons has a kick for goal but slips, the ball having no pace is collected by the keeper. Tension is now starting to build as the players get in each others way, McGrath bringing a player down results in a yellow card. The goal kick to Symons is easily cleared by the defence for an Edwards throw in and cross into the box but is too strong for Molyneux to reach as the half time whistle blows.

HT North Leigh FC 3 – 0 Hereford FC

No doubt with Beadle's voice ringing in their ears from the dressing room team talk, Hereford make 2 changes to the start of the 2nd half.

SUBS: Hereford – Preece & Molyneux OFF Oates & Mills ON

The Bulls now doing what they do best, applying pressure to the North Leigh defence and with advantage of being on the downhill towards goal, they begin to raise the temperature and pace of the game, gaining more possession and better passing than in the first half. McGrath is fouled on the right hand touch line in the North Lye half, the free kick only back as far as the half way line, Hereford driving back into the oppositions half. Gray is down with an injury requiring treatment and a long delay before the goal kick resumes play back into the Hereford half. The ball goes out of play, the throw in quickly taken by Haysham but is called back as the Ref decides to call for the substitution of Gray with James at #16 for North Leigh.

McGrath has the throw in, taken on by Oates to Fortune who sends the ball down the pitch to Haysham, onto Edwards, going out again for a Hereford throw in. Calls for hand ball ignored as the ball floats towards the Hereford defence, forced out to Edge on the half way line, feeding to Plummer who has 2 players on him bringing him down for a free kick, taken quickly. The Bulls creating urgency, reducing the North Leigh players ability to tackle effectively, the ball with Symons and passed to Plummer who from a standing start and no build up produces a superb volley 30 yards out straight into the top of the net. GOAL! Hereford begin the long journey back, now only 2 behind – North Leigh 3 – 1 Hereford

Mike Symons Holds The Ball Up And Passes To Tristan Plummer

Who Scores With A Cracking Shot
Increased energy from Hereford now, better build up and Plummer attempting to force a corner, but cleared back as far as Green, back out to McGrath, cant find Symons, back to Fortune to result in a throw in. Edwards now with a cross to Symons but a push from Symons gives away a free kick. Another foul on McGrath in the North Leigh area, the ball finds Green who strikes for goal only to be brought down on the follow through but not seen by the Ref and waves play on.

Hereford's pace and possession is strong as McGrath feeds into Oates, onto Edge who takes the ball to Mills, North Leigh defence feeling the pressure, Symo is obstructed but again no free kick given. A late tackle on Haysham brings both players down, North Leigh's #5 Hole, runs the width of the pitch and strikes Haysham while still on the ground under the other North Leigh player who is not moving at this stage. The Ref attempts to bring the match under control as frustration and tempers rise. As a result both Haysham and Hole are awarded red cards and sent off. Both teams now down to 10 men.

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Back in play the Bulls now determined to get the match back on track, power into the North Lye half, Mills taking his first strike for goal but caught by the keeper. Oates on the break feeds to Plummer, out wide to Mills on the right who crosses into the box but nobody there to finish the shot. Hereford gaining more momentum. North Lye players wasting time retrieving and taking free kicks to try and slow the pace down. Ball now back to Green, through Fortune and Plummer for Mills on the break but kicked out. Throw in taken quickly, keeping the speed of pace, Plummers cross goes out for a corner on the right hand side. Taken by McGrath with Edwards sending the ball straight to the keeper. All the action is on the right hand side as Oates makes a run down the pitch to Mills who slices the ball over the goal for a corner.

Ball into the centre of the box but just headed over the bar by Symons for another corner on the same side. A repeat kick in by McGrath again finds Symons in the middle of the crowded box and this time he heads it down into the back of the net. GOAL Hereford now only 1 goal behind at 3-2 with just over 10 minutes of normal time left + injury time.


Hereford on the attack now with a free kick straight at the keeper for a goal kick but the Bulls are beaten in the air and the ball is kicked away by the North Lye defence. The #9 Seacole is shown the yellow card for time wasting. Plummer now has the ball but is obstructed, played on but the Ref brings the ball back for a free kick to the Bulls but is cleared again by North Lye defence, digging deep to retain their lead. The header from Edge is straight to the feet of Oates who takes it on the break, is tackled but wins it back to McGrath to Edwards who spins to Mills out wide on the right. Mills takes the ball into the area, 1 on 1, Symons calling for the pass but Mills forges forward just inside the base line, determination to put the ball in the net and is rewarded with a superb swerving shot around the keeper to even the score. GOAL! Hereford equalise with minutes left on the clock. Score now 3 all.

SUBS: Hereford - Plummer OFF Williams ON

The Bulls, with little time left driving the field now, running rings around the North Leigh defence as the desire for another goal to go ahead in the late stages of the match is high. Oates with a great ball to Williams who expertly holds it to pass to Symons, back to Oates who volleys wide. Green is now in the penalty area adding support to the striking force, back to McGrath, to Oates but headed away for a throw in. A final attempt by North Leigh sees the ball whistle over the the top of the bar off Fortune's header.

Green gains possession, finding Oates, onto McGrath, seeking Mills but comes off Edwards instead for a free kick. Green again forcing the ball back into the North Leigh half to Williams, back to Oates whose cross is headed away back into the Hereford half, now deep into injury time. Mills tries again but the keeper wins the ball for a goal kick. Williams with possession finds Oates, working well together but goes out for a throw in. One last attempt as Green crosses to Edwards who wins a corner. Edge takes the corner but a defender heads the ball away as the final whistle blows.

FULL TIME : North Leigh 3 -3 Hereford FC

Bulls News MOTM
Following a poor performance for Hereford in the first half this was going to be a difficult decision. The second half was a different team with a different attitude and tempo and rewarding the travelling fans and 1000 listeners on Radio Hereford FC to really appreciate the grit and determination the Bulls have to pull the game out of the deep and walk away with a draw and a crucial point to take them 10 points clear at the top of the table. There were lots of sparks of brilliance in the 2nd half, particularly the goals (obviously!) but the game changer was the introduction of Jimmy Oates whose class and pace took the match to a new height and raised the focus of the team.

TEAM: Harris, Green, Edwards (c), Edge, Preece, Fortune, Molyneux, McGrath, Plummer, Haysham, Symons

SUBS: Sinclair, Oates, Barnes, Williams, Mills

Next Match at Edgar Street: Hereford FC v Yate Town - Saturday 17th December 3pm KO