Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hereford Lose At Wulfrunians

Terry Goodwin reports on Hereford's first pre-season friendly.

What is it about Wulfrunians and wonderstrikes? Eighteen months ago Pablo Haysham scored a belter to earn Hereford a 2-1 away win, and tonight we saw a cracker from Jimmy Oates in the opening pre-season friendly of 2017/18 as the Bulls were defeated 3-1. 

In the club's first season, the Staffordshire side provided one of the sternest tests as the Bulls clinched the Midlands League title. 

There had been rain throughout the day at Castlecroft Stadium, but it eased in time for kick-off. Hereford, in their yellow shirts, had plenty of familiar faces in the starting eleven with new additions Jack Deaman from Gloucester, Garyn Preen from Evesham and Keyon Reffell from Merthyr among those opening the match. There were another eleven on the bench including several youth teamers, which must've been a tight squeeze!

There were some lively opening exchanges. A free kick swept in by Haysham after seven minutes was cleared courtesy of a defender's arm, and Mark Preece's header from the subsequent corner was also deflected away. 

Two minutes later, Hereford were ahead. A curling Jimmy Oates strike from at least twenty five yards out beat the goalkeeper at the near post. It looked an almost impossible angle given he was deep on the right channel as the Australian full-back fired goalwards. 

The first sustained pressure on the Hereford defence saw them conceding. A Wulfrunians corner was nodded home by Matt Hunt, who found space in the box after 20 minutes. Hereford had further chances as the first half progressed and rain started pelting down, including a lively Garyn Preen strike pushed away by the goalkeeper, a Reffell pull back to Jamie Edge tipped over the crossbar, and then a goal line clearance in the dying stages of the first half. The Bulls even found the net courtesy of a Wulfrunians defender's head, but it was ruled out for a push. 

The Bulls started the second half with Oliver Davies replacing Martin Horsell in goal. After an hour, Pete Beadle made more changes: Mills, Edge, McGrath, Preen and Preece came off, replaced by Purdie, Dinsley, Molyneux, Symons. and Green. 

As the match progressed, the pace slowed with fewer clear cut chances. Under the floodlights, Wulfrunians continued to fight against their higher-graded opponents and took the lead with 17 minutes to go. Substitute Alex Solomon fired home from close range.

Then the remaining members of the starting eleven were replaced by Beadle. It was the turn of the youngsters: Dan Pugh, George Hayes, Greg Preece, Harry Franklin and Euan Richards. 

With five minutes to go, Wulfrunians made it 3-1 as Dan Sweeney pulled the ball out wide following a Purdie error, and then ran at goal, firing low past Davies. 

It was a good workout for the Bulls, who created more chances in the first half than their single goal suggests. It'll be the eleven that finished tonight's game who will start tomorrow's friendly against Lads Club, Pete Beadle confirmed afterwards, as the Bulls boss looks to give every player match experience in the early stages of pre-season.

Starting XI: Horsell, Oates, Bowen, Edge, Deaman, M. Preece, Preen, McGrath, Mills, Haysham, Reffell.