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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Match preview - Hereford FC vs Brackley Town


Following a couple of 1-0 wins and a satisfying steadying of the good ship Hereford FC following Marc Richards’ departure, the Bulls welcome old friends Brackley to Edgar Street on Saturday, kick off 3pm. Supporters won’t need reminding that this weekend’s visitors won all three encounters between the sides last season, and at times the gulf in class was a bit embarrassing.

However, the Bulls are showing signs of now being up to the task of competing properly in National League North, and as such can hopefully give a far better account of themselves this time around. Also, moles have hinted that the Saints aren’t looking quite the force they’ve been previously, which seems to be borne out by a return of seven points from their opening five games. That said, they’ve had some tough opening matches against the likes of York and Kings Lynn, so perhaps what on first impression looks like an underwhelming mid-table league position could be misleading. They'll more than likely be really, really troublesome opponents.

Despite appearing to be a club of very modest means (465 people watched their last home game), Brackley are fuelled by some healthy financial backing allowing them to employ a number of useful players at this level. Striker Lee Ndlovu and attacking midfielder Carl Baker, for instance, could comfortably ply their trade higher up the pyramid. This backing has ensured that they’ve consistently competed towards the top of the table over the last few seasons, with last year being no exception, seeing them finish third and ultimately going out of the play offs to Spennymoor on penalties. I seem to write about the play-offs in this division and penalty shoot-out misery most weeks. It all sounds horrible and there’s clearly only one stress-free way to get promoted this year – finishing ahead of York (not usually a very tricky assignment historically but I suppose this season they're showing themselves to be uncharacteristically competitive). 

As for the Mighty Whites, with last Saturday’s win against Blyth probably falling into the ‘You can only beat what’s put in front of you’ category, this weekend’s opponents will be a much sterner test than that provided by the much-depleted northeasterners. This match, followed by Chester away, will give supporters a much better indication of how things might go over the course of the season. The Spennymoor draw on the opening day is gradually losing its worth as they continue to stutter to get started (notwithstanding the fact that they still haven’t been able to host a home game), and Kings Lynn are the only club currently in the top half of the embryonic league table the Bulls have faced so far, and we know what happened there.

That said, there can be no doubt that the squad looks significantly stronger this season, with decent options on the bench awaiting their chance, evidenced most recently by Bradley Ash coming in and cementing a starting place with some lively and skilful performances. Confidence should be high following back-to-back wins, and finally perhaps the Northamptonshire outfit can be put to the sword.

With caretaker director of interim improvisation Tim Harris on a roll, another win here would send a clear message to the rest of the division: “Get rid of your coaching staff and watch the points flood in.” Just think what it would save a Premier League club in salary costs to adopt such a brave approach, so hats off to the HFC board for giving it a go. Innovative, progressive, not sure anyone’s tried it before but credit where it’s due – the club is truly cutting edge at the moment in its refreshingly laissez-faire attitude to having a coachless dugout, not to mention a dugout at last free of someone else who doesn’t really seem to do anything and a man with a laptop, all dressed in sportswear straight from a mid-80s East Berlin catwalk.

COYW