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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hereford Record A Double Century

Supporters Watching From 'Haysham Hill'

As we left home yesterday afternoon we thought “today is ground-hog day and we're going off to Didcot. We'll keep our fingers crossed, as this doesn’t sound like a lot of fun”.

And in the end it wasn’t great. If you ever needed proof football is nothing without the fans, this was it.

But, the surreal atmosphere was lit up inside the second minute when Ben Whitehead hit a cracking volley into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box. Here we go again we thought. It’s March 4th once more. Ground-hog day.

However, the Bulls responded on the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Joel Edwards advanced down the left before delivering an accurate cross to the far post. Jake Sinclair nodded down for John Mills who swivelled to shoot, but his effort struck a defender. Jamie Molyneux was quick to pounce on the loose ball but shot wide.

A patient Hereford continued to attempt to knock the ball around on a horrendously bobbly pitch and on 23 minutes almost equalised after Edwards again made progress down the left, and decent link up play with Mike Symons ended with a pass to Molyneux on the edge of the box. But despite being well placed his shot lacked conviction and this enabled keeper Bedwell to collect.

Whitehead almost doubled the Railwaymen’s lead after 27 minutes when a scuffed clearance from Martin Horsell fell directly to the feet of the clubs leading scorer. Fortunately for Hereford the forward’s first time shot drifted both high and wide.

Symons remained determined to battle his way through some persistent blocking by the Didcot defence, but on the half-hour he managed to drift away from his markers and got on the end of a Rob Purdie cross from the right flank. Symons rose well, but headed off target.

A penetrative run from Sam Barder then cut through the centre, before he unleashed a rasping effort from 20 yards out. Horsell initially spilt the drive, but recovered swiftly to smother the ball.

Almost constant Hereford possession for much of the closing period of the opening half was to pay dividends in the end. With 60 seconds left on the clock in the first forty-five, Molyneux grabbed the equaliser. Jake Sinclair wriggled his way into the box but Bedwell blocked his initial effort. Didcot hadn’t kept a close enough watch on Molyneux though and he somehow found the net through a crowded six yard box.

Jamie Molyneux
The Hereford half-time team-talk definitely appeared to increase the Bulls’ tempo as Peter Beadles’ men immediately charged at Didcot after the re-start. John Mills raced into the box with the intention of rounding keeper Bedwell. However, after contact the former Didcot marksman went to ground with referee Daniel Lamport immediately pointing to the spot. Whether Mills would have caught up with the ball before it crossed the goal line is a moot point, but that probably saved Bedwell from a straight red card.

Mills despatched the spot-kick emphatically for the Bulls’ 100th league goal of the campaign.

After this Didcot struggled to cope with a hard-working Hereford midfield with Calvin Dinsley and Mike McGrath pulling the strings in centre-field. Both players effort was first-class, with countless tackles winning the ball from their opponents. The fact Hereford broke up play so effectively and so regularly proved to be the major contribution to this victory.
Mike McGrath

Referee Lamport then decided to flash around his yellow card for what seemed to be the most trivial of offences, and this certainly adversely affected play. A stop-start game hardly ever helps the Bulls and here was a case in point.

Didcot carved out just one more opportunity from a set-piece with 10 minutes remaining. Skipper Adam Learoyd came up from the back for a corner but was denied by a Horsell point-blank save. Had that gone in it would have been a cruel blow as in truth the Bulls dominated possession and had controlled the game for long periods – especially in the second period.

Indeed, McGrath could have finished the match in style in the 94th minute but struck a direct free-kick straight into the 5-man Didcot defensive wall.

So, it did prove to be a 2-1 win for Hereford at Didcot after all. Need we have bothered?

That’s 100 goals and 100 points for Hereford, and it looks increasingly likely the Bulls will acquire a better record than Royston in the Evo-Stik Southern League Central and gain home advantage in the Champions Trophy match.

In the end then, not so much Ground-hog day but more William Shakespeare; “A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers”; Much Ado About Nothing.

Didcot Town; Leigh Bedwell; Ollie Thomas, Adam Learoyd ©, Stuart Cattell, Ross Tanner; Sam Barder, Andy Ballard, Callum McNish, James Organ; George Reid, Ben Whitehead.

Subs: Josh Baines, Taylor Janes, George Jeacock, Louis Joyce, Harry Whitehead.

Hereford FC; Martin Horsell; Rob Purdie, Ryan Green, Mark Preece, Joel Edwards ©; Jake Sinclair, Calvin Dinsley, Mike McGrath, Jamie Molyneux; John Mills, Mike Symons.

Subs: Jamie Edge, Pablo Haysham, Ollie Barnes, Bradley Williams, Alex Harris.

0 (paying spectators) with around 40 official media, directors and staff in attendance, plus around half-a-dozen on “Haysham Hill” outside the ground.
Man-of-the-Match:  Mike McGrath.