Monday, August 26, 2019

Outclassed Bulls Crash 4-1 At Chester

Jordan Cullinane-Liburd Scored Hereford's Consolation Goal
Hereford FC produced a miserable performance at the Deva stadium today, going down 4-1 to a Chester team which was superior in every department. Had the score line been 6 or 7 it wouldn’t have flattered the home side. They were quicker to the ball in midfield, pacy in attack and took their chances well. Hereford, on the other hand looked lethargic, unimaginative and lacking in confidence and Chester were able to cut through the Bulls’ defence at will.

Joel Taylor on the left flank for Chester was a constant threat with his pace and crossing and Hereford were unable to contain him. Akwasi Asante was a serious handful for Gowling and Cullinane-Liburd, and it was the powerful number 9 who opened the scoring for Chester. Hereford had already had a let off a few minutes previously when Stopforth was allowed a free header from a free kick which fortunately looped onto the bar before being scrambled away for a corner. However, there was no escape in the twentieth minute when Akwasi drilled the loose ball into the net after the Hereford defence had blocked a shot from Hughes.

Taylor, who deservedly got the Man of the Match award, continued to run Hereford ragged on the Hereford right, but when the second goal came it was from a break down the other flank. The ball moved from Akwasi to Hughes who played it infield for Dudley to score with a cool curling shot into the bottom corner. 

Hereford’s defending was appalling, Cullinane-Liburd apparently content to jog back into position without showing any awareness of where the threat was coming from. There was a lot of finger pointing and remonstrating between midfield and defence – not the signs of good team spirit.

Taylor had a fine effort parried by Brandon Hall, and then seemed determined to beat the entire Hereford team as he dribbled into the area, finally being blocked with ball going out for a corner. Hereford had a couple of attempts on goal – a low angled shot from Rowan Liburd, which was comfortably saved, and then a shot from Symons which went wide.

Frankly, half-time couldn’t come quickly enough.

During the half time break one of my fellow Bulls News contributors expressed the opinion that Keiran Thomas wasn’t getting any help from his midfield to try and tame Joel Taylor and reckoned that Jordan Nicholson should have been doing more to support him. It seems that Tim Harris agreed, as Nicholson was replaced by Tom Owen-Evans for the second period. Rowan Liburd also didn’t reappear, with Raheem Hanley coming out in his place on the left of midfield. The formation changed from what had been 4-3-3 (or maybe 4-1-2-3 as Simeon Maye had occupied a deeper role in front of the back four), to a 4-4-2.

None of this seemed to help. Just seven minutes after the break the ball was clipped over the Hereford defence on the right to Jackson whose pace took him clear before cutting it back to give Asante a simple finish for his second. 

After this Hereford did seem to improve slightly, without ever threatening the Chester goal.

Asante was subbed off to a huge ovation from the home fans and great relief for the Hereford centre backs, but Chester continued to take the Bulls apart. Both Hughes and Waring had the ball in the net but saw the flag raised against them. They finally made it four when Danny Elliot converted a cross from the right with a perfectly judged glancing header. 

Styche had come on for Symo, to not much effect. He’s been good at building himself up as a self-styled “Mr. Nasty”, but the only way he showed this was by giving Bradley Ash a huge bollocking for not reacting to a chested knock down.

Hereford Get The Ball In The Net But It Was Disallowed
In the dying minutes both Hanley and Owen-Evans finally tested the home keeper with good shots on target which were tipped over for corners. From one of those corners a headed clearance looped up into the air and Cullinane-Liburd got a downward header on target that crept into the net for what is usually described as a “consolation” goal.

Shortly before the end Chester came close again but the ball was somehow cleared off the line and that was the end of the action.

At the end of this debacle only the goalkeeper can feel satisfied with his performance. Hall’s save when Jackson was put through on goal in the 80th minute in particular was first class, and he was left totally exposed and can’t take much, if any, blame for the Chester goals.

From what I saw today I wouldn’t be surprised if Chester are in or around the promotion places come the end of the season. More importantly I saw a big gap that has to be bridged if the Bulls are to have any chance of being challengers as well.

There are some players with ability in the squad, but they looked demoralised and disorganised. The manager’s position needs to be filled, and soon. Harris seemed to be hinting in his post-match interview that the process is quite well advanced, but without giving very much away. Personally, I think that having to work with/under/alongside Harris would be a major factor in putting potential candidates off and shifting him out of the way would be a big step forward to appointing the new man. This would require an embarrassing climb-down for the board, but if they want to turn things round before a serious slump sets in then maybe they should swallow their pride.

Harwood Bull