Saturday, April 26, 2014

Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough….

Scorer Sam Smith With Michael Rankine, Jarrod Bowen and Jamie Edge
….that’s what we call a Great Escape.

Hereford United secured their Conference Premier status with a two goals to one win at Aldershot’s Recreation Ground this evening when goals from Sam Smith and Michael Rankine sealed the victory that meant Chester’s draw with Salisbury was insufficient to prevent them dropping to the regional division.

Peter Beadle kept faith with Jamie Edge following his introduction in place of the injured Billy Murphy in an otherwise unchanged side from the team the defeated Alfreton last weekend.

With close to 800 travelling Bulls’ supporters raising the roof, the game started with United attacking the end occupied by their own fans.  In an understandably nervous opening few minutes, Oyeleke dragged a shot wide of Danny Lloyd-Weston’s goal and Sam Smith was equally wide of the mark with The Bulls’ first attempt.  Frankie Artus’ searching through ball into the left channel found Rankine but the ball was cleared for an uneventful throw before a Kingsley James ball into the box caused some concern for the home defence but was eventually punted upfield to clear the danger.

After a tentative start, The Bulls started to put together some much improved Beadleball and following a rash challenge on Kingsley James, the ball was worked out to Jarrod Bowen who whipped in a dangerous cross from wide right that just failed to find the onrushing Rankine.

In the next attack, Rankine turned his marker and went down in the box after being caught by a trailing leg but referee Peter Banks failed to stick to the Woolmer script and waived away the penalty appeals.

United continued to look bright and busy despite Sam Smith being a little harshly penalised when a defender simply stumbled over the ball.  With twenty-five minutes on the clock, Molesley blasted over when well placed before a Chris Bush overlap earned a corner on the left a couple of minutes later.

Frankie Artus’ flag kick picked out Luke Graham and his thumping header was cleared off the line but Sam Smith was on hand to bundle the ball into he net and give The Bulls real hope that survival was a possibility.

Sam Smith Put The Bulls Ahead
Smith wheeling away to celebrate -Picture From Andy Compton/Hereford Journal
Meanwhile, over at The Deva, the Jesters had already taken the lead over Salisbury but cheers erupted from The Bulls section of the Aldershot crowd minutes later when news filtered through that Salisbury had equalised.

Kingsley James saw a shot blocked by what looked suspiciously like a hand while, at the other end, DLW was smartly down to collect an effort from Mekki at the near post.  Jarrod Bowen was scythed down in midfield and from the free-kick Ranks was strangely penalised for apparently failing to fall over when pushed in the back.  The referee was less than impressed with Oyeleke’s crude challenge on Ranks soon afterwards and rewarded the Shots’ player with a flask of yellow.  The resulting free kick found Kingsley James on the far side of the box and he drove purposefully into the area.  Two rash challenges could easily have forced the referee into a decision but KJ chose to stay on his feet and the ball was eventually cleared.

HT Aldershot 0 Bulls 1 (1-1 at The Deva)

The second period started with a burst of pressure from the hosts that upped the pulse rate of the travelling Herefordians.  Sam Smith was fouled and Bushy’s free kick was met with a Rankine header but keeper Morris was well placed to gather.

Rob Purdie won a free kick on the right midway into the Shots’ half and when Artus’ cross arrived at the back post Luke Graham rose to head into the net but, sadly, there was a fluttering flag on the far side that ruled out the strike.

The Bulls continued to press and Smith was caught offside by the narrowest of margins before Molesley’s low drive was cleared by Dom Collins.  Then a good chance fell to Jarrod Bowen who found himself one on one with the keeper.  The youngster had the confidence to round the host stopper rather than shooting but unfortunately the move took him too wide and his effort on the turn was just over the bar.

As the hour mark approached the Bulls fans heard the Jester had re-taken the lead with a goal from Rooney so it was back to biting the finger nails.  Kingsley had a goal-bound shot blocked and DLW had to back-peddle to tip a shot from distance over the bar before another shot from Mekki skidded just wide of the post. 

Then, with fifteen minutes of normal time remaining, Aldershot struck back.  Oyeleke ceased on a loose ball on the edge of the box and rifled a low shot in off the inside of the upright.  Things were not looking good.

There followed a flurry of substitutions from both teams that saw The Bulls replace Jamie Edge with Jon Brown, Dan Walker replace Jarrod Bowen.  Very soon after, Cory Williams came on for Sam Smith.

Jester were winning and The Bulls were looking doomed then Dan Walker stretched his legs down the right and cut in along the bye-line to deliver a low cross into the box.  Michael Rankine arrived with perfect timing to sweep the ball into the net from ten yards to give The Bulls the lead for a second time in the game.

Michael Rankine Secured Hereford's Victory
Hopes were now pinned on a Salisbury equaliser at The Deva and it arrived less than a minute later.  With one eye on the Recreation Ground and the other on the smart phone, Bulls fans signalled Jamie White’s strike at The Deva with the same delight as Ranks’ goal.

The four added minutes seemed like an hour and when referee Banks blew the final whistle there was an agonising two further minutes before the refresh button was finally redundant and the celebrations broke out both on and off the pitch.

FT Shots 1 Bulls 2

Bulls:- Lloyd-Weston, Bush, Graham, Collins, Purdie, Bowen (Walker 86), James. Edge (Brown 80), Artus, Smith (Williams 80), Rankine. Unused:- Sam Gwynne and Joel Edwards.

Shots:- Morris, Oastler, Tonkin, Phillips, Stanley, Barker (Roberts 79), Mekki (Bubb 85), Moseley (Rowlands 89), Oyeleke, Williams, Scott. Unused:- Patterson, Williams.

Attendance 3593 including 772 delighted Bulls fans.

No after match thoughts, no MOTM, we won and that’s all the matters.

Well done all.