Next Game: Pre-Season Friendly - Melksham Town Away on Saturday 7th July

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Match abandoned after Hereford led

The referee abandoned this afternoon's encounter between Didcot and Hereford FC following crowd trouble, immediately after Hereford had snatched what looked to be a late winner. Hereford were reduced to ten men in the 15th minute after Ryan Green was shown a straight red; in the aftermath to the incident, Peter Beadle was sent to the stands and George Reid smashed the free-kick past Alex Harris. The hosts were reduced to ten men early in the second period when Stuart Cattell was shown a second yellow, and Hereford responded midway through the half through a John Mills penalty. Mike Symons thought he'd won it in the 87th minute but whilst the Beast was celebrating, chaos ensued as fans ran on the pitch and sparked a melee, giving the referee no option but to call off proceedings.

Both Pablo Haysham and Mills started against their former club; Tristan Plummer wasn't included in the squad, with Jamie Molyneux coming in at right-wing. The hosts included recent signing Reid, who had switched from Swindon Supermarine, having played at Edgar Street the previous weekend.

The home side started the brighter and after Green saw a clearance closed down, Didcot's striker raced into a good position and fired a left-foot shot just past the post of Harris. In the 14th minute, Hereford were reduced to ten men; Reid waltzed past three challenges with ease before being stopped by Green, with what looked like a shoulder barge. However, the referee adjudged it a foul, and a last man foul at that, giving Green his marching orders. This was the second time that Green had been sent off against Didcot this season. 

Beadle was vocal in his appeals and the referee sent the Hereford manager to the stands, whilst Beadle then had to calm down physio Jonny Evans. When the Hereford bench had calmed down, Reid smashed a free-kick through the wall and into the back of the net from 20 yards.

Hereford responded well though, despite being a man light, and Mills was tripped just outside the box, and despite the hopeful appeals of the travelling army, only a yellow card was brandished. Both Mills and Haysham were closely watched by the physical Didcot back-line throughout the game. Symons failed to find his feet to shoot after a Mike McGrath cross nestled to the big man, whilst Haysham forced the home 'keeper into a save after a step over on the left and powerful low shot towards the near post.

Haysham then shot weakly at the 'keeper after good work from Mills, whilst McGrath's right-foot half-volley was close to finding the top corner from 25 yards. However, it was Didcot who should have been two goals up when with minutes to go in the first half, a first-time switch from right to left allowed the Didcot winger to cut in past Jimmy Oates and fire a shot into the body of Harris, which he couldn't gather and the follow up by Ben Whitehead smashed the post before bobbling out for a goal kick.

The Bulls returned to the field fired up and nearly equalised in the opening moments; Haysham won a tackle on the left and Joel Edwards whipped a dangerous ball into the box and after a deflection off the defender, the ball looped up to the hit the bar. 

Didcot went down to ten men after Haysham's neat footwork drew a foul by Cattell who was handed a second yellow card. From the free-kick that followed, Haysham shot tamely under the wall and to the goalie.

Ollie Barnes, who had earlier replaced Molyneux after Green's red, headed straight at the 'keeper after a deep corner by Purdie before Hereford found themselves level from the penalty spot. 

Symons span his man to race onto a Mills lofted pass and he was dragged down on the right-hand side of the box. Mills stepped up confidently and send the 'keeper the wrong way to make it 1-1.

At the other end, Sam Barder shot straight at Harris after Sam Elkins had done well to find space on the right, but it was Hereford who continued to press. Purdie slipped a pass to Mills inside the box but he snatched a left-foot shot past the far post, whilst Symons headed over the bar after excellent work from McGrath to dink a dangerous left-foot cross towards the back-post. Further half-chances fell to Mills and Symons before Hereford thought they'd won the game.

The away team won a corner on the left, which Haysham sent towards the back-post. Symons headed downwards and the 'keeper, unsighted, saw the ball squirm past him. Symons, and his team-mates celebrated, but some fans jumped the fencing and ran on to the pitch. One of these fans celebrated in front of the 'keeper, and pushed him in the chest, before the home team's players reacted to the fan and pushed him back whilst he was running back towards the fencing. This caused other fans to enter the field of play, players from both sides were involved as a melee broke out in front of the Didcot goal. The confrontation went on for a couple of minutes; the handful of Didcot stewards, police and match officials were unable to calm proceedings, and the referee decided to abandon the game. The arguments carried on for longer and the tannoy announcer was repeatedly asking for both calm, and then for all spectators to leave the stadium immediately. 

It's become quite commonplace in recent months for the home 'keeper to be subject to verbal abuse in recent months, thinking back to Yate and Larkhall especially. Whilst the verbal abuse may be a usual fixture within all levels of football, it becomes far more apparent in the lower leagues with less people at the games. Fans entering the pitch is indefensible however and these actions cannot be condoned. There looked to be some objects thrown at the 'keeper during the second-half, and one steward did look to calm down some supporters behind the goal, but despite this, there did appear to be an inadequate number of stewards at the game for the number of people there. 

More will follow regarding the incident; the rules regarding whether the result stands, or whether the game will need to be replayed are a little unclear, but recently, a game in the Southern League that was abandoned near the end of the game had to be replayed.

Going back to the game itself, Hereford dug deep after going down to ten men and will be disappointed that the actions of supporters may affect their hard-work, that looked as though it was going to end in three points. Barnes performed well, slotting into central defence, whilst Mills looked eager to impress against his former employers but his finishing, other than his penalty, was a little off.

Hereford: Harris, Oates, Green, Preece, Edwards, Molyneux (Barnes), Purdie, McGrath, Haysham, Symons, Mills.

Subs not used: Horsell, Williams, Sinclair, Edge.

Sent-Off: Green (Hereford), Cattell (Didcot).

Goals: Reid (Didcot), Mills and Symons (Hereford).

Game abandoned: 88th minute.