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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hereford Lift The Southern League Title


Picture From Will Cheshire
Eric watched last night's game at Biggleswade where Hereford won the game 1-0 and so lifted the Southern Premier League Title.

Leaving wet Hertfordshire behind Hereford found themselves in cereal growing Bedfordshire. Although the pitch had plenty of grass on it there were lots of bobbles. It did not play as good as it looked. Biggleswade are a big side and gave Hereford plenty of physical challenges across the pitch. The biggest factor was the wind which for golfers was at least a 2-club strength and it made the game a lot harder. Hereford had an early scare when the wind blowing towards the town took a Biggleswade free kick right through and almost catching out Puddy as it just went past. After that Puddy adjusted well with good handling in difficult conditions. His distribution on a difficult day was excellent.

Lance Smith was keen to be back in the starting eleven and a great run fed the ball to Purdie who shot just wide. Next Smith found Myrie-Williams who passed to Pring in the box who had his shot blocked off. Pring, McGrath and Myrie-Williams combined well on the left but were unable to penetrate. Parker Biggleswade’s most creative force in the centre of the pitch played a long ball which Captain Hall headed and Puddy took comfortably after 16 minutes.

Myrie-Williams was getting lots of joy on the left and his next cross was desperately sliced over the bar for a corner. Purdie’s deep ball to the back post almost found Liburd who just missed a great opportunity. Liam Brooks robbed O’Shea and bore down on goal but Pring in got back to foul and stop the attack. The wind was extremely difficult to asses but Parker’s free kick on the right was the worst dead ball of the half being overhit a good 20 yards from a very good position.

A good headed clearance by O’Shea found McGrath who found Smith. Lance’s pace was troubling the Waders backline and he again burst past to fire in a cross which was sliced away. George Bailey on the left was looking the most consistent threat for Biggleswade but he was the next to be defeated by the wind. Having got through well he went for a far post cross but slightly miscuing it this turned into an unexpected top near post corner shot which Puddy was alert to. Myrie-Williams then put in yet another cross which Hicks headed away.

Perry on the left fired in a long throw which Liburd got slightly underneath so that it skimmed off his head. Puddy anticipated well and took the ball comfortably. After another long throw Liburd cleared well to Purdie whose clever dink sent Smith away. The only way the to stop him was to bring him down in a great central place for a free kick. Unfortunately, Myrie-Williams fired the ball into the wall. McGrath robbed Parker in midfield and seeing the Biggleswade fourth choice keeper off his line tried an ambitious 45-yard effort.

Biggleswade’s keeper Sinfield is normally an outfield player. Hereford did not test him that much. As an inexperienced keeper shooting on sight seemed like a good idea. Myrie-Williams was the only one of the forward players to fully understand the need for not too many touches of the ball, being direct and having a pop. With his all-round play this was his best performance for Hereford so far. 

Smith fed Purdie who pirouetted and poked the ball in one movement to put Myrie-Williams in one on one. The amateur keeper did extremely well to push Jennison’s shot round the post for a corner. The corner resulted in a melee and blocked shots as Hereford cranked up the pressure. In the distance a wind farm was furiously turning generating electricity. The tension crackling as the dominant Bulls looked to breakthrough.

Purdie fed Myrie-Williams who again was sharp to get a shot in which was blocked, the ball was recycled to Purdie and he again found Myrie-Williams in the box. The Biggleswade defenders knew what was coming and before Jennison could set himself to shoot he was fouled for a clear penalty. With Symons on the bench the legend that is Rob Purdie stepped up. Straight down the middle into the roof and how appropriate a player loved by so many (some in the crowd said they found him even more handsome now they know he has a uniform!) should be the man to send Hereford to the edge of the championship.






McGrath found Purdie who again passed to Jennsion surging forward and whose cross shot was well tipped round the far post. Pring put in a deep cross, Smith headed back, and Myrie-Williams fired in a great hard shot which was tipped over the bar. Not bad for an outfield player Patrick Sinfield! The referee missed this and did not give a corner. As Pring won another corner for Hereford half time was called with Hereford deservedly ahead.

HT Biggleswade 0 Hereford 1

The sun went down on a beautiful evening sky as Hereford had 45 minutes to see out for the Championship. Reffell got through and shot but a defender got a foot on it deflecting it back to the keeper. Richards was now pinging some good balls forward and finding Myrie-Williams on the edge of the box. A long Pring ball was flicked on by Myrie-Williams into the path of the onrushing Reffell but the powerful wind just swept the ball away.

Richards was factoring the wind into his passing and when he saw the opportunity for wind assisted shot towards the A1 end from 45 yards he took it and was only just past the post. Good work by Reffell found Oates who crossed. McGrath’s header was defended for a corner. Purdie’s deep cross from the corner found Liburd but he arrived just a little early and got underneath it. For all the players it was very difficult to judge how the swirling and powerful wind would affect the ball.

More good work from Jennsion and an exchange of passes left Myrie-Williams well placed to cross but the ball bobbled. Next Myrie-Williams fired in a cross shot which was blocked out to McGrath who shot wide. The referee then stopped the game to warn somebody on the Biggleswade bench presumably for something he thought they had said. Beadle told him to not be so silly and get on with the game.

A long Purdie free kick was blown just too far ahead of Liburd whose intelligent running was getting himself free at dead ball situations. To stay in the game the big Biggleswade side were getting increasingly physical. A heavy challenge by Lucas Perry got a warning when a booking was more
appropriate. As he let things go referee Andrew Humphries seemed to be more intent on a no booking game than applying the rules. The shrewd Biggleswade team saw this weakness. A rare Biggleswade free kick on the right was claimed comfortably by Puddy.

Bigglewade is a transport hub and in the distance, trains were speeding up the East Coast main line. Our Hereford Flyer Lance Smith had started off like an express train but his niggly injury appeared to have returned as he was not so effective in the second half and Beadle subbed him after 70 minutes for Symons. At the other end of the ground traffic rumbled relentlessly on the A1. Just like an articulated truck Symons immediately came on and just bulldozed through both centre backs. Hereford looked better with the change.

A clumsy Richards foul on Kaziboni gave Biggleswade a free kick on the right. Hicks cross was met by Bailey whose low shot was saved by Puddy. Puddy’s distribution was excellent all night. A long quick kick came high out of the sky. Symons showing Premiership skill took the ball on his foot before it hit the ground instantly controlling and turning in one smooth moment to shoot hard and low. Keeper Sinfield grabbed the ball at the second attempt with Myrie-Williams about to pounce for another of his six-yard specials. Biggleswade brought on Burnett for Fielding who had made little impact.

Hereford were increasingly fluid, and more than twenty passes found Symons in a great position but he was just offside. A Purdie corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Symons shot over the bar bounced off the old clubhouse. Biggleswade have an impressive new ground, were well organised and gave Bulls fans a great welcome. A McGrath cross was cleared for yet another Hereford corner which was cleared to Richards whose shot was high, wide and handsome. More great work by Myrie-Williams who showed no sign of tiring putting a cross into the corridor of uncertainty from the left. Sinfield did very well to come out quickly and palm it away.

Pring flew forward again getting into the box and pulling back for Purdie who shot just wide. On 88 minutes Bailey who had been one of Biggleswade’s most effective performers and had run himself into the ground was taken off for Griffiths. The referee who had let Biggleswade away with too many heavy challenges finally booked Parker after 89 minutes for a particularly nasty late tackle. Parker could easily have been booked for repeated fouling, but the referee seemed to have forgotten his earlier warnings.

Hereford now took the ball into the corners to see out time. A season with many exhilarating moments was coming to the end with utter professionalism ensuring the job was done. A series of clean sheets and efficient victories which every other club in the division would give everything for.

A difficult pitch, hard working Biggleswade and tension in the night had not made for a spectacle but Hereford were champions. How wonderful Purdie scored the goal for the title and his fellow grand old man Green who had been watching the game with the fans ducked under the railings at the end to join the celebrations. Myrie-Williams had his best 90 minutes in a Hereford shirt by a long way but with composure at the back and a threat in the box from dead balls, Liburd gave a performance Ryan Green would have been proud of and was man of the match.

BIGGLESWADE
Sinfield, Coulson, Perry, Fielding, Hicks, Hall (c), Kaziboni, Parker, Bowen, Brooks, Bailey. Subs Statham-Allison, Paton, Burnett, Griffiths, Daniel
HEREFORD
Puddy, Oates (c), Pring, Richards, O’Shea, Liburd, Reffell, Purdie, Smith, McGrath, Myrie-Williams. Subs Haysham, Symons, Deaman, Mills, Horsell