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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Twelve Years Ago Today - Bulls Close To Promotion

Twelve years ago today, Tuesday April 22nd 2008, Hereford United defeated Wrexham and so took another step towards promotion to League One.

Wrexham down as Bulls win

Hereford United ended Wrexham's 87 year stay in the Football League with a 2-0 home victory over The Red Dragons. Gary Hooper netted just before half-time, whilst his strike partner Theo Robinson added a second on the hour mark. The visitors failed to trouble United, and their relegation to the Blue Square Premier is confirmed. For The Bulls, victories in their final two games would see them promoted.

After the defeat to Peterborough on Saturday, Bulls supremo Graham Turner decided to make one change to the starting line-up with Robinson replacing Steve Guinan, who was left out altogether. Lee Collins replaced Robinson on the bench. Wrexham named a mixture of experience and youth, with once Hereford target Matty Done starting on the left-wing. Shaun Pejic, son of Mel and another rumoured target of United started in defence with Wales international Steve Evans.

The encounter started quickly, with chances in the early stages at either end. Richard Rose managed to beat a defender before a lucky bounce allowed him to fire past the post from 18 yards, whilst at the other end Done cut in from the left-hand side, beating two in the process before forcing Wayne Brown to parry a quick-fire shot. Robinson had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring, when Hooper's battling allowed him to nod himself clear of the Wrexham backline, but the youngster lacked composure from 12 yards, as he sliced past the post despite being in an excellent goalscoring position.

Done's impressive running for Wrexham caused one Hereford fan to liken him to Paul Parry, and he struck a shot weakly into the arms of Brown. Wrexham nearly went one up after a fine effort from Neil Roberts; a long free-kick was flicked on and Roberts volleyed after watching the ball over his shoulder, but Brown was equal to it by making a fine save before it was cleared for a corner. The opening goal came three minutes before half-time, after some fine interplay between the front two. Sammy Igoe won posession in the middle of the park, and found Robinson, who released Hooper with a cute back-heel. The Southend loanee had one man to beat which he did, before shooting across Gavin Ward and into the far corner. Minutes later, Igoe sent a decent half-volley a few yards past the post from 25 yards.

Hereford made a good start to the second-half with Robinson looking the danger man. Firstly he sent a half-volley from an Igoe pass over, before he struck the post; Ben Smith won a midfield battle and the ball fell to Robinson who turn and was direct in his attack, as he ran goalwards and sent a low shot which beat Ward but struck the outside of the post. Wrexham had two half-chances when Levi Mackin volleyed out of the Blackfriars Terrace after a Karl Broadhurst header, whilst Marc Williams quick-control and neat turn saw him force Brown into a decent stop from his powerful effort.

Luckily for United, they put the game beyond doubt with 30 minutes remaining. Clint Easton played a ball out to Richard Rose, who took his time before crossing into the box. Hooper rose and nodded on and Robinson managed to beat the offside trap, before slotting home clinically from 12 yards. There were strong appeals for offside from 'keeper Ward, but the linesman and referee stood by their decision, and the goal stood. A flurry of subs were made by Wrexham, with Danny Williams, Michael Proctor and Robert Garrett replacing Connal Murtagh, M. Williams and Wes Baynes respectively. Proctor looked useful up front, and struck at Brown after controlling a long kick-forward, whilst only a fine sliding defensive tackle denied Easton an easy tap in, after some fine-build up play had released Hooper on the right. In the dying minutes, Proctor managed to nut-meg Dean Beckwith on the edge of the area, but his curling effort was plucked out of the air by the ever reliable Brown.

The result was the right one on the night, with Hereford looking very comfortable in front of 3739 supporters; 478 made the journey from North Wales to see Wrexham drop out of the Football League. I wish the Welsh side the best of luck next season, and hope to see them back in League Two in the near future, in a stronger position than they find themselves at the moment. The partnership of Hooper and Robinson blossomed tonight, with the latter looking much improved on recent months, with a good work-rate, neat touch and good instinct; the goal will no doubt have improved his confidence. Next up is Brentford on Saturday; a travelling army of near 1,000 will be backing United as they look to keep up their promotion hopes. Remember to wear yellow!

Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Beckwith, Broadhurst, Rose, Igoe, Diagouraga, Smith, Easton, Hooper, Robinson.

Subs: Esson, Collins, Taylor, Johnson, Benjamin.

Wrexham: Ward, Pejic, S. Evans, Mike Williams, Taylor, Baynes, Murtagh, Mackin, Done, Marc Williams, Roberts.

Subs: Jones, G. Evans, D. Williams, Garrett, Proctor.

After the game:

Hereford United manager Graham Turner has said that last night's victory puts the Bulls in a great position.

"This win is another three points and another clean sheet which is pleasing," said Turner.

"We might have scored more but we've got to be satisfied with a 2-0 victory.

"We knew it would be a hard game as they were fighting for their lives and I thought we dealt with it quite well.

"We had one or two scares at the back but overall I think it was a decent professional performance.

"With two games to go it is a great position to be in."

Meanwhile on-loan striker Gary Hooper spoke to BBC Hereford and Worcester after last night's game at Edgar Street.

"I though we played even better when we were 2-0 up. I though we played really well and kept it.

"We're looking forward to Saturday. Hopefully three points and get us on the way to automatic."