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Monday, July 02, 2018

Hereford United - Inconsistent & In Danger

With Hereford coming up against some familiar sides over the course of the 2018/19 season, BN will be publishing some articles from match day programmes from years gone by.

Following on from yesterday's 'We've Been There Before' article which featured Kidderminster Harriers, below is an article that originally appeared in their programme in 1989.

On Monday 6th March Harriers entertained Hereford United in the semi-final first leg of the Welsh Cup. Harriers won the game 1-0, and a draw in the second leg meant they progressed to the final, but lost 5-0 at Swansea City.

Introducing Hereford United

Three precious wins in their last five league games have moved Hereford United eleven points clear of the bottom club in Division 4 of the Barclays League, after an inconsistent first half of the season left them amongst the clubs in danger of relegation. 

Despite the emergence of top scorer Phil Stant as one of the lower division's hottest properties, Hereford boss Ian Bowyer must be concerned at his side's poor record, particularly away from Edgar Street, where they've lost ten out of fifteen games. 

Despite opening victories over Cambridge United and Orient and an unbeaten home run lasting nearly four months, the club slipped into the bottom three in mid-January and have a battle on their hands to better last season's final placing of nineteenth.

Including cup games, Phil Stant has scored 24 goals in 35 games this season and his goal against Colchester in the last round of the Sherpa Van Trophy has given Hereford a Southern Area Semi-Final spot, just two games away from a Wembley appearance. 

The competition, previously known as the Freight Rover Trophy, is the club's best chance of covering themselves in glory this season, along with the Welsh Cup, where Rhos Aelwyd, Bethesda and Newport County have been accounted for in the previous rounds. However, their FA Cup and Littlewoods Cup interest ended at the earliest stages, losing to Cardiff (3-0) and Plymouth (6-2) agg.) respectively. 

Player-Manager Ian Bowyer, who took charge in October 1987 now restricts his appearances to the occasional outing, has been fortunate with injuries this season; only Mel Pejic, who required a groin operation, has been sidelined for any length of time. 

With only two new arrivals in the summer, Steve Mardenborough (Cardiff) and Andy Crane (Shrewsbury), Bowyer has been on the lookout for players to strengthen the side and both Paul Tester (£10,000) and Jon Narbett (a club record £27,500) have been snapped up from Shrewsbury since the season began. 

Teenage 'keeper Tony Elliott arrived on a free from Birmingham City in December and has dislodged regular stopper Kevin Rose, while ex-Harrier Russell Bradley has now returned to Notts. Forest after a month on loan at Edgar Street, where attendances are at an all-time low since the club joined the Football League in 1972. 

Having struggled near the foot of Division 4 for the past few seasons, last term was no exception with only eight home wins out of a possible 23 confining them to 19th place. In particular, goals were in short supply and they've already scored more this season than they did in the whole of last. Phil Stant, the current Player of the Year, top-scored with just nine league goals, although the departure of Stewart Phillips (£27,500 to West Brom) and Ollie Kearns (£6,000 to Wrexham) midway through the season, left the club woefully short of recognised strikers. 

Colchester ended their FA Cup aspirations in the second round after an earlier 1-0 win at Barnet, while Nottingham Forest dashed their Littlewoods' Cup hopes with a 6-1 aggregate second round defeat. Tonight's game will provide the ideal opportunity for revenge after the Harriers' 3-0 Welsh Cup third round success at Edgar Street last season, in a competition where Hereford have been beaten finalists on three occasions. 

Amongst the summer departures were Ian Rodgerson £35,000 to Cardiff), Ian Dalziel (Carlisle), Steve Spooner (York), Chris Leadbitter (Cambridge United) and Ian Wells (Bridgnorth). 

Ian Bowyer, now 37 and veteran of over 600 league games, is more used to life at the top rather than the basement of Division 4. A first Division Championship and two European Cup winners' medals speak volumes for his playing career which encompassed spells at Manchester City, Orient and Sunderland, in addition to thirteen successful seasons under Brian Clough at Notts. Forest. 

Current occupant of the goalkeeper's spot is teenager Tony Elliott, who has dislodged Kevin Rose after 250 consecutive league games for the club. Elliott, an England schoolboy international and a product of the FA School of excellence, arrived from Birmingham City in December, where he played against Villa in the Littlewoods' Cup this season. 

Kevin Rose, who cost Lincoln City £15,000 from Ledbury Town but never played a league game, has been the clubs regular stopper since his arrival in 1983. The central defensive partnership of Gary Stevens and Mel Pejic has been resurrected after Pejic's return from a serious groin injury. 

Stevens (34) cost £6,000 in March 1987 and recently completed his 400th league game in spells at Cardiff, Shrewsbury and Brentford after starting out at Evesham. Meanwhile, Pejic, the club skipper, played just one game for Stoke City before his arrival at Edgar Street in 1980. He's collected the Player of the Year award on three occasions and played well over 300 games.

Former Aston villa apprentice Mark Jones has since assisted Brighton, Birmingham City and Shrewsbury, while Steve Devine had spells at Wolves, Derby and Stockport before joining Hereford in late 1985. 

Summer-signing Andy Crane had a YTS spell at his home-town club Ipswich and a season at Shrewsbury. Midfield ace Jon Narbett (20) cost a club record £27,500 in December after a two-month spell on loan. Birmingham-born, he played 26 times for Shrewsbury after serving his apprenticeship. 

His former Gay Meadow colleague, Paul Tester (29) arrived in August for £10,000 after 98 games for the Shrews' in five seasons. Previously with Cheltenham Town, he cost Shrewsbury £10,000 in May 1983 and had a spell on loan at Hereford a year later. Teenager Richard Jones played 31 games for Newport County last season, while Ian Benbow, Hereford born, is a former YTS trainee who appeared regularly last term. 

Steve Mardenborough (24) arrived In the Summer after 147 games for Coventry City, Wolves, Cambridge Utd, Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, Welsh U/21 cap Paul Maddy (26) is another former Cardiff midfielder, who has also assisted Stoke, Swansea, Brentford, Chester and is in his third spell at Edgar Street.

The subject of recent £100,000 offers from Scarborough and Scunthorpe, 24 goal marksman Phil Stant joined the club in 1986 after they bought him out of the Army for £600 and hit a hat-trick on his debut against Newport in a Freight Rover tie. Now 26, Stant played four times for Reading, scoring twice, in the 1982/83 season as a twenty year old. Last season, he top-scored with twelve league and cup goals and was voted the club's Player of the Year.

His striking colleague, Paul McLoughlin (25) netted the winner in the last round of the Welsh Cup in his second season, he previously assisted Bristol City, Gisborne City (SA) and Cardiff City. 

Completing the squad former Oxford Utd YTS Robbie Williams joined the club last summer.