Saturday, October 12, 2019

What A (Bad) Week That Was

Harwood Bull watched this afternoon's game between Bradford PA and Hereford.

It’s hard to know what to say about today’s game. What was already a bad week for Hereford FC finished with a dismal result against a struggling side who had conceded eight goals in their previous game. The Bulls somehow contrived to make a team that started the day second from bottom look like a half decent side. Credit must go to Bradford who looked sharper from the start, had pace down both flanks and battled for everything. They looked delighted with the win and this result must have been just what they needed to bounce back after last week’s mauling.

The Bulls had a promising start with a couple of shots on target in the opening minutes, the best of which, a Peter Vincenti effort from outside the area was tipped over by the home keeper. This promise had evaporated by the ninth minute when Knight broke through the midfield to be brought down by Hall outside the area. Hall was booked for the offence. The free kick that followed hit the wall, but Hereford failed to clear convincingly and the ball fell to Nowakowski in front of goal who scored with a low shot.

After 15 minutes Hughes had a good chance for Bradford but his header was narrowly wide. The Bulls then came close when badly sliced attempt at a clearance had to be tipped over the bar by the Bradford keeper.

Hereford’s midfield were seeing plenty of the ball, but the build up play was slow and ponderous, giving the opposition plenty of time to regroup and stifle the play. Vincenti looks like a decent footballer but didn’t impose himself on the game in the way you’d expect someone with his background to do. We have to look to the experienced players to give the team the drive and urgency that was very much lacking today – maybe the new man from Bury can provide this.

It was no surprise when the home side went two up. A left wing cross was met with a fine finish from Knight who scored with a volley from a narrow angle from beyond the far post. 

Knight was causing problems down Hereford’s left flank, with diagonal balls hit over the defence for hm to run onto. Hurst, on the other flank was also speedy, giving Bradford options down both sides for the quick break.

The Bulls were starting to threaten the home goal a bit more, and pulled one back in the 33rd minute when Tom Owen-Evans was tripped in the box. 

Vincenti took the resulting penalty, scoring easily with the keeper going the wrong way.

Half time : Bradford (Park Avenue) 2 Hereford FC 1

The Bulls started the second half with Owen-Evans replaced by new signing Kelsey Mooney. Before he had much chance to make an impact the score was 3-1 to Bradford. Hall saved a low shot to his right but the rebound fell to Sweeney who was brought down when he looked about to score. Sweeney took the penalty himself, rolling it into one corner with Hall going the other way.

Hereford reduced the arrears within a few minutes. A cross into the box from Thomas was headed back across the area by Vincenti and O’Sullivan scored with a confident strike. 

The game progressed with Hereford mounting more attacks without really threatening too much. Green in the Bradford goal dealt with high balls into the box comfortably, despite falling heavily when challenged for a high ball by Symons. Nicholson was replaced by Ash, and Cullinane-Liburd by Pope, and towards the end of the game Gowling pushed further and further forward.

Was Thomas Brought Down?

Hereford continued to press and Symons did some good work down the left on a couple of occasions, but these only resulted in corners. Mooney and Ash both had shots blocked, but the
home side always looked capable of getting something on the break. The game got increasingly niggly, not helped by some fussy and inconsistent refereeing. In the end the home side held on for a morale boosting victory.

Full time : Bradford (Park Avenue) 3 Hereford FC 2

Before today there was a feeling that 6th place in the division flattered Hereford and this game provided plenty of evidence to support that. Slade is clearly working to strengthen the squad, which is stretched a bit thin by injuries and, today, by players on international call up (I never thought I’d get to write that line for Bulls News). Some significant improvement is needed if the playoff position is to be regained and held onto.

Trivia note: the rather garish red-amber-black shirts worn by the home team are apparently the traditional colours worn by the original Bradford FC (a rugby union club) from which also sprang the Bradford Rugby League club and Park Avenue football club. At some periods in its history the football club has worn green and white colours, which are now the away kit. This explains the green and white seating in the stand and some supporters wearing green and white scarves.

Today’s attendance was 484, which leaves me wondering how a club can survive in this league on that sort of gate? All credit to them for keeping going.

Nearly Empty Stadium
Hereford FC:
Hall, Thomas, Bodenham, Pollock, Cullinane-Liburd (Pope), Gowling, Vincenti, O’Sullivan, Symons, Owen-Evans (Mooney), Nicholson (Ash)
Subs not used: Jagger Cane, Burwood

Bradford (Park Avenue)
Green, Lund, Lowe (C), Hughes, Heaton, Knight (Bazeley), Agustien (Marriot), Sweeney (Johnson), Hurst, Noakowski
Subs not used: Moran, Dockerty