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Monday, March 31, 2003

Options for Turner

With John Grant able to play next Saturday, Graham Turner will have four strikers available to pick from. So who will he leave out?

Steve Guinan must be fancied to start this time. His absence was very noticeable against Margate, and although not a natural goalscorer, he creates chances and is probably the best of the four in containing high balls. He has had a good season at Edgar Street and must be regarded as a player worthy of another contract.

Albano Correia is a strong looking player who started Saturday's game well and should have scored on at least two occasions. However, he did not look fully fit and quickly tired in the second half. His mistake led to the third Margate goal, which was a breakaway.

Karl Hawley was the better of the two new strikers on the day. He looked that much faster and more agile than Correia. Although not the biggest of forwards, he looked at ease with the rest of the team. With more training and time Guinan and Hawley could form a useful partnership if Hawley could be tempted to stay at Hereford.

John Grant is likely to miss out. He has had a difficult season both with suspensions and injuries and has only started in twenty-one Conference games out of a possible thirty-seven. Turner will surely use the availability of others now they are on the books.

Jamie Pitman will still be suspended for the Burton Albion game. Maybe Rob Sawyers,whose time for a game must soon come, will feature instead of Rob Purdie, who did not look comfortable on Saturday. It could depend on what formation Turner decides to play as Burton's type of play suits wide pitches.

Tony James should return to the starting eleven, probably in place of Ian Wright.

Meanwhile, Hereford on still on track to finish top of the discipline league as they have six less points for sending-offs than Margate, who are second.


Sunday, March 30, 2003

Barnetbull and Swindon Whites need play-off

Beau Brummie's failure to collect enough points has seen Barnetbull and Swindon Whites jump to the top of the HU-FC.co.uk Predictions League and clinch the March title. A play-off will be required, with the player collecting most points with their Burton Albion prediction gaining a prize.

In the overall league, 'len weston's last stand' still holds the lead.


Margate boss delighted with victory

Chris Kinnear, the Margate boss was disappointed that Hereford United got back into yesterday's match, but glad that a late goal earned them a 3-2 win.

"We went 2-0 up, should have been 3-0 up and that would have been the end of the game," he told BBC Radio Kent. "But they got back to 2-1, then 2-2 and to be honest with you, you start thinking 'I hope we at least get a point here'.

"Jean-Michel Sigere then went round the goalkeeper and tapped it into the net, which made us very happy."

Margate's three points have pulled them away from the lower reaches of the table, and eased lingering fears of relegation. However, if the Conference's plans are passed by the FA, it could be that only the bottom side will go down anyway as the league could be expanded to twenty-four teams for next season. The FA have told the Non-League Paper that FA Council will meet on May 15th, "which could be D-day for the Conference," said spokesman Alex Stone.

Meanwhile, former Hereford United goalkeeper Mark Jones, now playing for Midland Alliance side Bridgnorth Town, has been injured on his farm. A cow trod on his hand and he has had X-rays to reveal the extent of the damage.


Saturday, March 29, 2003

Guinan should have started

Hereford United's aspirations to get into a play-off place took another knock this afternoon with the defeat by Margate. Graham Turner opted to play his two new strikers and left Steve Guinan on the bench. He may now regret that decision as neither of the two signing seem as good as Guinan at collecting and holding the ball and so United were unable to keep possession from high balls.

When Guinan was eventually brought on it looked as through Hereford could win and after he equalised they were very unlucky to go down to a breakaway goal much like that scored by Barnet last week. By bringing virtually everyone up front the Bulls were left wide open for a break and that's exactly what happened when Margate scored the winner.

Ian Wright spoke about the defeat to BBC Hereford & Worcester after the game. "We came off the pitch and all the lads were absolutely gutted," he said. "We played really well, they scored a couple of fluky goals to go 2-0 up and I thought we came back really well. We showed a lot of character, got back to two each but they snatched it right at the end. It was very disappointing.

"We actually started very well. We had chances before they scored. The first time they got players into our box they got the first goal and then the second goal, I don't think you will ever see it again! The player just hooked it over his head about thirty-five to forty yards out, the wind got hold of it and caused Matt Baker all sorts of problems and it's dropped in."

Parry's goal just before half time was "a good strike that gave us a great opportunity to get back in the game".

Asked about the new players Wright thought they did well. "They held it up well and caused problems up-front so for a first game it was a good performance.

With four defeats in five games Wright said: "No it's not (play-off form).The last couple of games we have played reasonably well especially today. There are still 15 points to win."

Graham Turner was downcast after the game and told the press: "We have got to see the season out positively and see what that brings, but the second goal was one of the most freakish I've seen and to see the ball land in the net was a huge blow."

Several supporters noted that whilst both new strikers started well enough Albano Correia looked very tired towards the end and it was surprising that he was not subbed.


It's goals that matter

Hereford United were unlucky not to take something from this game after Margate had gone two up. Paul Parry and Steve Guinan made it two each but a break-away goal gave Margate the winner. A very entertaining game with the Bulls having most of the possession but it's goals that count. Final score Hereford United 3 - 2 Margate.

Terry's report is here.


Defensive rock missing for United

Defender Tony James is out for today's Nationwide Conference game between Hereford United and Margate.

An update on the official news forum reports that James' ankle injury hasn't recovered sufficiently to be considered for selection this afternoon, and it is likely that Andy Tretton and Ian Wright will start at the centre of the defence.

Otherwise, it is also reported that Jordan Lambert, a non-contract signing from Derby County, is in the squad for the match but the young midfielder is very unlikely to feature.


Friday, March 28, 2003

Yeovil closer to title

Yeovil beat Scarborough 1-0 this evening which now means that they are 14 points ahead of Doncaster. Five more points will win them the title. In any case even if they were to lose their remaining matches they still would feature in the play-offs.

Scarborough's chances of reaching the top five are diminishing. They now have 52 points from 36 games, some six points less than Hereford and ten points adrift of the play-off places.


United need slip-up from rivals

If Hereford United are going to move back into the play-off zone come the end of the Conference season, they need one of the five teams around them to drop points, and also beat Margate tomorrow at Edgar Street.

Tonight, top-of-the-table Yeovil Town host Scarborough (eighth in the Conference) safe in the knowledge that a play-off place has been secured and that victory would almost certaintly see them crowned Nationwide Conference champions after their slip-up two years ago.

However, the more important matches from a Hereford point of view are played tomorrow. Chester City (fourth) face a trip to troubled Farnborough Town, who haven't won in their last twelve matches and look unlikely to do so tomorrow, while the team currently in fifth, Morecambe, host Nuneaton Borough at Christie Park. Boro' need to pick up points to pull away from the drop zone and after drawing 1-1 at Manor Park earlier in the season, the Warwickshire-based side will be eager to pick up another point tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Dagenham & Redbridge (third) face a tricky tie at Stevenage Borough, who have seen an upturn in the fortunes in recent weeks, and Halifax Town (seventh), now out of administration and able to compete in the play-offs, have a bigger incentive to beat lowly Woking at the Shay. Doncaster Rovers (second) are without a game.


Win a must in tomorrow's clash

Hereford United host mid-table Margate at Edgar Street tomorrow knowing that to keep the Bulls' play-off bid alive, anything less that victory will not be good enough, kick off 3pm.

Graham Turner told the Evening News that Hereford need to win. "It's no good saying we need five wins out of six or thinking too far ahead," he said. "At this stage we have just got to make sure we win and then see how other results affect us. Chester and Morecambe will be the results we'll keep a closest eye on and we have to hope that somewhere along the line they slip up and we can capitalise but that means us taking care of business at our end.

"The level of performance and all sorts of things go out of the window. I'd like to see an entertaining game with good football but it's the points that are more important. Home advantage has to be a big factor. Up until recently we've had a decent away record although at Barnet I thought we did reasonably well we should have done better but we didn't and that puts a little bit more pressure on us."

Hereford's top scorer Steve Guinan, with eleven Conference goals, will start in attack alongside either loan signing Karl Hawley from Walsall or former Bristol City forward Albano Correia. Midfielder Jamie Pitman and striker John Grant are both suspended, while defensive linchpin Tony James has an ankle injury and faces a late fitness test.

"He turned his ankle at Barnet and it was badly swollen," said Turner. "He's generally a quick healer but tomorrow might be too early for him."

Opponents Margate are likely to field top scorer Leon Braithwaite, who has scored ten times in the Conference this season, but manager Chris Kinnear misses John Keister and Terry McFlynn, who are away on international duty with Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland under-21s respectively. Midfielder Simon Beard has a chipped bone in his ankle, but Margate came through Tuesday's defeat at Doncaster Rovers without any further injuries or suspensions.

The last two matches between these sides have both resulted in Hereford victories. Graham Turner's men won 3-0 at Edgar Street just over a year ago, and in February beat Margate 2-0 on their home soil. United lie just outside the play-off zone, four points behind fourth-placed Morecambe with both sides having six matches to play. The Bulls have won eight of their seventeen home matches this season, and will start as favourites against Margate, who lie fourteenth but have lost eleven of their eighteen away games. Their recent form isn't very impressive either - having lost four and won one of their last six games in the Conference.

Kinnear told the BBC of Hereford: "They're a great side. There's no doubt they're a very, very good footballing side. It's going to be a hard game against a team who are full-time professionals."


Turner tells of deadline deals

Graham Turner has been telling local press that he is pleased to have added more strikers to the squad.

"Even on Wednesday morning we were still very much in the dark about who might come in," he said. "We had got a number of players who were considering it.

"We had got a number of clubs who were thinking about allowing players to come to us but it was the same old story if we signed one then you can have so and so and it was a difficult period where a lot of work was going on and nothing was happening and then fortunately well in time it all came to fruition with a couple of players coming in."

Talking of his signing of Karl Hawley from Walsall, Turner continued: "I tried to sign him about a fortnight ago but Walsall refused but to my surprise on Wednesday morning they phoned to say he was now available and he was there for us. So we moved quickly and signed Karl. So that is two strikers coming in; both joined in training on Thursday morning and both look OK."

Turner also explained why he wanted to have a third keeper on the books."I am always a bit wary going into the end of the season, past the transfer deadline with only two registered keepers. So Mark Gayle comes along having signed for us from Solihull. The agreement is that he will continue to play for Solihull but if we need him for the first team he will come and play for us."

Perhaps the addition of Jordan Lambert is the more unusual signing. He has been given a free transfer by Derby County and was on trial at Chesterfield.

"Basically he turned up on the car park asking if he could join in. Obviously he has got a bit of a pedigree and having trained with us for a couple of weeks and played in a training match at Bath University I registered him. I can't see him playing too much apart from a disaster with injuries.

"We have got adequate cover in most places now."


Thursday, March 27, 2003

Derby youngster trains with Bulls

Graham Turner has registered midfielder Jordan Lambert for his Hereford United squad.

Lambert was released by Derby County after a two and a half year stint at Pride Park, and will train at Edgar Street, although Turner said that he was unlikely to feature barring an injury crisis.

His signing brings the number of newly-registered Hereford United players to four over the past forty-eight hours.


Striker headache for Hereford United

Striker John Grant misses his last game before returning from suspension as Hereford United take on Margate at Edgar Street, hoping to improve on a record of just three points from their last possible twelve, kick off 3pm.

Grant's place alongside Steve Guinan in the attack could go to Bristol City forward Albano Correia, who signed for United yesterday, or Karl Hawley, a loan signing from Walsall, and Graham Turner is expected to revert to a 4-4-2 formation for the match after last week's 2-1 defeat at Barnet.

Captain Tony James is a doubt at the centre of defence after picking up a foot injury in the reversal at Underhill, Jamie Pitman misses out with his first match of a two-game suspension starting tomorrow.

Turner told the Evening News: "Margate have been a solid side and I thought that we played very well when we beat them 2-0 at their place in February. In fact, I thought that we deserved more than a two-goal victory that night. But Margate have shown they are a solid side with some good players.

"They will certainly be no mugs and the most important thing for us is to walk off at 4.45pm on Saturday with three points in the bag."

Of the signing of Albano Correia yesterday, Turner commented: "We've been trying for several weeks to bring someone in and when Danny Wilson offered us Albano we jumped at it.

"He's a big lad, strong on the ball and gives us another option," he told the Evening News.


Turner captures loan signing Hawley

Hereford United have signed Karl Hawley on-loan from first division side Walsall until the end of the season.

Graham Turner captured the services of the twenty-one year-old after he impressed in a loan spell at Raith Rovers, where he scored eight goals in twenty-one matches for the Scottish outfit.

Saddlers boss Colin Lee told the Saddlers' official website: "Karl enjoyed his time up in Scotland. Rather than playing in the remaining four reserve-team fixtures, I feel that it will be more beneficial for him to go to a club who are pushing for a play-off place.

"Hereford are a well-run club with a highly-respected manager in Graham Turner. This loan will be a great experience for Karl and a valuable part of his development as a player for Walsall Football Club."


New deal for England star Rose

Michael Rose has extended his Hereford United contract until the end of next season.

The left-back has had a solid season in the Bulls' first-team this season and is the first of a number of players who will retained for next season's campaign.

Other players will now be offered contracts, according to manager Graham Turner, in a bid to include an element of continuity in next season's squad.

The defence has been problematic in the last few games, says Turner, who said that the search for a new striker had been ongoing until yesterday's signing of Albano Correia. "There have been streuous efforts in trying to bring in one, but two of our latest targets have not come to fruition," he told the Hereford Times. "But while we have failed to score in only one of our last eighteen matches, we have kept only two clean sheets in the last ten matches. To be successful, you cannot afford to give anything away and you can't keep going away from home and needing to score three goals to win."


Another striker may sign

It has been reported by Ian Morgan in the Hereford Times that the Bulls are hoping to sign twenty-one year old Karl Hawley, a striker from Walsall this morning.

Hawley has been with Walsall since January 2001 and has featured in their reserves. It is thought that Bulls Richard O'Kelly will know what he is capable of as United's coach was with Walsall being becoming Graham Turner's right hand man at the start of this season.

The news comes after yesterday's signings of attacker Albaro Correia and Mark Gayle, on non-contract forms, and Graham Turner told the Hereford Times: "Albano has played four games for Bristol City's first team this season and has scored seventeen goals in their reserve team this year.

"We hope to put the finishing touches to the deal with Karl on Thursday morning, while I have signed Gayle because I feel it is important to have three registered goalkeepers at this stage of the season."






Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Correia signs from Bristol City

Hereford United have announced that they have captured the signature of attacker Albano Correia.

The official website reports that Correia has moved to Edgar Street following his release from Bristol City.

Correia hasn't featured in the City first team this season as they push for promotion in the second division, but played in both of Bristol's matches in this season's LDV Vans Trophy, when they drew 0-0 with QPR and won 2-1 at Boston United.

Of Portuguese nationality, Correia was born in Guinea Bissau on 18th November 1981 and has played in three first teams matches for the Ashton Gate club, but has been a prolific scorer in the reserves.

Furthermore, Graham Turner has told ClubCall that Solihull Borough goalkeeper Mark Gayle has signed on non-contract forms. He had a spell on-loan at Edgar Street in 1997/98, when he was playing for Crewe Alexandra.


Rose features in England side

Michael Rose featured in England's National Game XI team that drew 0-0 in Holland last night.

The Dutch side, made up of under-21 players, almost snatched victory late on when Rose's mistake allowed Dennis Pardijs to cross from the left in injury time, but on the whole, the Hereford United defender had a solid game.

Speaking at the final whistle, Paul Fairclough told thefa.com: "I am disappointed with the result, but delighted with the performance. Holland had one shot on target all game, and could have won had it not been for a fantastic save by Chris Weale.

"Gregg Blundell got in some great positions, had three great chances, and on another night would have scored three goals, but it was not to be.

"Our back four were outstanding and I thought the midfield pairing of Drummond and Norris also played well. In fact, the only player who struggled was Lee Johnson, and after he had been ill with a stomach complaint for 2 days, we decided to only give him a few minutes late in the game, when we would all have wished for him to have had longer."

England Squad: Wayne Brown (Chris Weale - 59mins), John Kennedy, Scott Guyett (Captain), Danny Collins, Michael Rose, Mark Janney (Jimmy Jackson - 69mins), Richard Norris (Lee Johnson - 82mins), Stewart Drummond, Lee Elam, Gregg Blundell (Adriano Rigoglioso - 59mins), Junior Agogo (Roscoe d'Sane - 74mins)


Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Goalless in Holland

It has been reported that tonight's National Game XI match against the Holland semi-professional side has finished 0-0. Whether Hereford United's Michael Rose played is unknown, but hopefully more details will emerge tomorrow.


York to settle debts

Much like Hereford United, York City have large debts and have been trying to agree to pay off what they can to, amidst others, the Inland Revenue.

It appears that they offered to pay them 50p in the pound but this was turned down by the tax people.

This afternoon came news that York have upped their offer to 63p in the pound, which they believe will be accepted by the Inland Revenue.

Recently, Hereford United had their offer of 5p in the pound to unsecured creditors turned down by the Inland Revenue. This was in addition to the 40p already paid. It was then suggested by sources close to the supervisor that 10p would be offered.

Graham Turner said that he hoped to pay more towards the CVA at a fans forum last year. He suggested the figure involved was about £25,000.

HU-FC.co.uk believes that a settlement on the same terms as at York, if repeated at Hereford would mean a final payment of perhaps nearer £50,000 plus the supervisor's expenses which are around £70 per hour.

It appears from documents published by the supervisor that every 1p in the pound owed is roughly equivalent to over £2,000.

If these figures are correct then they explain why the club is still unable to pay transfer fees for players and, assuming the club is currently in profit, where some of the Sky money may be going.


Clock ticking for Turner

Graham Turner now has less that forty-eight hours to strengthen his Hereford United squad before the run-in.

The Bulls have six matches left to play, for of which are at Edgar Street, and it is common knowledge that Turner is looking to bring in a striker but must do so before the transfer deadline, which is at 5pm on Thursday afternoon.

Last week, both Southend United attacker Barrington Belgrave and Ken Charlery, of Farnborough Town, rejected moves to Hereford but Turner continues to search for a striker.


Monday, March 24, 2003

Three defeats in four fails to dampen spirits

Hereford United goalkeeper Matt Baker is confident about Hereford United's play-off hopes, despite Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Barnet.

Talking to the Evening News, he said: "We conceded some sloppy goals and you cannot afford to do. Although we replied and pumped a lot of balls into their box, we didn't create too many clear-cut chances."

He added: "We are very disappointed to lose. But while there are points to play for, there's still every chance that we could make the play-offs. There is no reason why we cannot win our remaining six matches."

Hereford defender Michael Rose, who featured in the game at Underhill, has made the trip to Holland today for England's National Game XI match tomorrow. England lost their last match 3-1 in Belgium, but didn't have Conference players available for the match so manager Paul Fairclough formulated his squad from feeder league players.

Meanwhile, North Herefordshire and the Tenbury Wells area are to be able to hear BBC Hereford & Worcester's coverage of Hereford United clearly for the first time, reports ukradio.com. The BBC Radio Shropshire frequency of 1584 khz AM has been transferred to Hereford & Worcester, who will begin broadcasting on March 31st. Currently, the station is available on 94.7 mhz FM in Herefordshire, 104 in Worcestershire, 104.6 in the Kidderminster area and 738 AM in Worcester.


Sunday, March 23, 2003

'Beau Brummie' shrugs off 'riverswye'

The HU-FC.co.uk Predictions League has now been updated following yesterday's 2-1 defeat at Barnet.

'Beau Brummie' is now sole leader of the March league, while 'len westons last stand' still tops the overall table, but 'cheesy' has closed the gap to just four points.


Sixth for the week

There are five games in the Conference in the next couple of days. However the results go, Hereford United will remain in sixth place as the only team close enough to overtake them, Halifax Town, are not playing.

Of the other teams likely to feature in the playoffs, only Doncaster have a game which is at home against Margate. Donny would be expected to take three points from this which would close the gap with Yeovil to 11 points.

The Bulls will have to wait to the weekend to see if they can keep their challenge alive.Due to the internationals, two Conference games take place on Friday evening and two of Saturdays eight matches start at 1pm. The Hereford game against Margate kicks off at 3pm.


Margin bigger than first thought - NLP

Today's Non-League Paper reports that only seven of the Conference chairmen voted against the expansion of the league to twenty-four teams for next season, despite earlier reports saying it was passed by twelve votes to ten.

Following Stevenage Borough chairman Phil Wallace's proposal, the subject was discussed for just ten minutes before a vote was taken.

Hereford United's Graham Turner was joined by Barnet, Chester City, Doncaster Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Scarborough and Yeovil Town in opposing the proposals, while Forest Green Rovers, Gravesend & Northfleet, Halifax Town, Kettering Town, Leigh RMI, Morecambe, Northwich Victoria, Nuneaton Borough, Southport, Stevenage Borough, Telford United and Woking all backed it. Both Burton Albion and Farnborough Town refused to vote.


Saturday, March 22, 2003

Short of luck

Following today's defeat at Barnet, Hereford United wing-back Michael Rose felt that luck had not been on the Bulls side.

Speaking to BBC Hereford & Worcester, Rose said: "We lost last week to Scarborough and were disappointed with our performance but today we worked really hard and just did not get the breaks. The gaffer told us that we performed well in the second half and he couldn't ask anymore of us really.

"We seemed to be on top for most of the second half and we pushed on to try to get the winner to keep us in the play-offs and they just broke and scored."

Matt Baker saved a Wayne Purser penalty six minutes before half time and Rose continued: "He's made two magnificent saves in the last two games but we don't look to give them away.

"We are not going to give up until it's mathematically impossible. To have such a small squad and be in our position, we've done really well."

Rose felt that despite three defeats in four games the play-offs are still possible.


Hereford defeated by Barnet

291 Hereford fans will be disappointed by the team's performance today after losing 2 - 1 to Barnet. The Bees took the lead after four minutes. After Baker had saved a penalty, Parry equalised just before half time. Poor defending by the Bulls allowed Barnet to win in the second half.

Terry's report is here.


Friday, March 21, 2003

Conference 2 to be ratified in May

The plans for the Conference 2 North and South divisions are likely to be ratified by the FA in May and implemented for the 2004/05 season, according to reports today.

Both leagues will have the twenty-four teams and will be run by an alliance of the Conference, Ryman, Unibond and Dr. Martens League officials.

FA National Game Director Steve Parkin told thefa.com “During the past two and a half years, one of The FA’s key objectives has been to make the National Leagues System more competitive, exciting and consistent. This agreement has been achieved through teamwork between The FA and all Leagues down to Level 4; they should be commended for their positive cooperation in helping to shape the future of football at this level.

“The FA will now work with the Football Conference, Isthmian League, Southern League, Northern Premier League and Level 3 and Level 4 clubs to finalise all details and establish selection criteria for entry into the two Feeder Leagues, ensuring that all clubs have this information before the start of season 2003/04.”

The Conference have also applied to expand to twenty-four teams, but for next season. However, the FA have said that they will not accept the proposal until it has been sent to the feeder leagues. A decision is expected before the end of the season, at the next FA National Leagues Sanctions Committee meeting.


Message for team before Barnet clash

Hereford United manager Graham Turner has sent a message to his side ahead of tomorrow's match at Barnet, kick off 3pm.

"We have to get something from the game, it's as simple as that," he told the Evening News. "But we have got to be confident. There are still eight games to go and there will be plenty of shock results between now and then."

Barnet beat Southport 3-1 on Tuesday night, and will pose a different threat than Scarborough, who were victorious over United 2-1 last Saturday. "Barnet are a totally different proposition to Scarborough who were much more direct," continued Turner. "Barnet get it down and like to play and are what I call a very sharp team. They've still got some good players and Underhill is a very nice playing surface so I expect a good game.

"There's a new man in charge and the change seemed to do them good in midweek so we'll need to put in a good performance of our own."

In terms of a new attacker, Turner is trying hard to find a player but has not been successful yet. "One or two players have been offered to us, but I didn't think they were capable of improving anything, so it's not worth taking them," he said. "If the right one comes along and we can improve things, then we'll jump in with both feet. But at the moment, we're still working at it."

Conference sides have until 5pm on Thursday to make any additions to the squad, before the transfer deadline takes effect.


Turner fails to sign Charlery

Graham Turner has failed in an attempt to bring Farnborough Town forward Ken Charlery to Edgar Street.

Talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester, he said that Charlery was not keen to move to Hereford at the moment. He said the search was continuing for a player of that calibre.

Tomorrow the Bulls will be at full strength, excepting John Grant, for the clash at Barnet. United expect a different kind of opposition than that encountered at Scarborough. "They will have to get it down and pass it and when we do that we look a side," commented Turner.

It has been reported by the BBC that the proposals for the restructuring of the Conference will be ratified by the FA at its May meeting and will come into effect for the season 2004/2005 and not next season as previously suggested.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Hereford based Bulmers have refused to renew their £2.5 million pound Strongbow deal with Leeds United.


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Rule change unfair

It is not yet known if the rule change expanding the Conference to twenty-four teams from the current twenty-two will be agreed. If it goes ahead at this late stage in the season it could mean that the chances of the Bulls making the playoffs that much harder.

The proposal to increase the number of teams appears to have come from new Stevenage Borough chairman Phil Wallace and new manager Graham Westley. Stevenage just happen to be fighting for their Conference life at present as they are in twenty-first position and as the rules stand quite likely to be relegated.

Should the proposal be ratified then only Kettering, assuming they continue to be in 22nd place, will be demoted. This could mean that clubs just above them will not be fighting for their Conference place with as much effort. In turn clubs looking for a play-off place with games against near bottom clubs may find points easier to come by.

At present only Hereford boss Graham Turner appears to have gone public with his view that a rule change at this stage of the season is totally unfair. But it is believed that nine other chairmen voted against the proposal. It will be interesting to find out who they were.

Meanwhile, this weekend sees a full Conference programme of fixtures. Hereford travel to Barnet and need a result to keep up their challenge for a play-off place. Other play-off hopefuls Chester have what should be an easy game against Southport whom Barnet beat 3-1 in midweek. Dagenham and Redbridge should overcome Halifax, which would help the Bulls. Gravesend & Northfleet will do well to take anything from visiting Morecambe.

Doncaster travel to Woking and would expect to pick up three points to get back on track after their defeat last Tuesday at Chester. Top of the league Yeovil are away at Margate and again an away win is likely. Another team with an outside chance of making the play-offs, Scarborough, are at home to Stevenage, and could find them difficult to take three points from.

So if results go as predicted, the gap between Hereford and the teams above them will widen unless the Bulls collect all three points.


Turner surprised by expansion vote

Graham Turner has revealed that he was one of the ten who voted against the expansion of the Conference at Wednesday's chairmen meeting.

The Hereford United supremo told BBC Hereford & Worcester: "Out of the blue there came a proposal that the league be made up of 24 teams next season. I was most surprised to say the least.

"I think they have to get FA permission for it all to be carried through, but it looks like only one team will be relegated."

The move comes after cynically, several people mentioned that Graham Westley's Stevenage Borough side would not end up being relegated this season. They currently lie one from bottom of the Conference, but as the new system would stand, only Kettering Town would be relegated.


Belgrave turns down Conference return

Southend United striker Barrington Belgrave has turned down the chance to join up with Hereford United, opting to remain at Roots Hall instead.

Rob Newman, boss of the Third Division side, said former Yeovil Town striker Belgrave turned down moves to both Kettering Town and the Bulls despite being told that he would not be offered a new Southend contract.

Newman told the official Southend United website: Barrington was one of the three players I told that their contracts would not be renewed for next season. Since then, Kettering and Hereford have both come in for him but for whatever reasons he decided not to sign for them.”


Conference to expand to twenty-four teams

Twelve of the twenty-two Conference chairmen have agreed to expand the league to include twenty-four sides from next season, report confguide.com.

The report reads:
Yesterday's Conference Chairman's meeting voted narrowly for an increase to 24 clubs for the Conference next season. The proposal was put forward by the chairman of a certain club currently battling against relegation. He claimed that it was a proposal from the Conference Management Committee, but at least one other chairman on that committee said he knew nothing about the proposal until yesterday's meeting.

It is likely that one club would now be relegated, instead of five being promoted from the feeder leagues, leaving Kettering Town as the likely relegation candidates. However, if one of the feeder league champions does not have the neccessary ground grading, most likely to be Accrington Stanley, then they will not be promoted and Kettering would be saved.

If the plan is passed, a two-up two-down system from the proposed new Conference 2 leagues would be in place, which is likely to see the champions of these leagues going up, and then play-off competitions to provide the second place.

The FA still need to ratify the proposal, along with the Conference 2 leagues, but this is expected today.


Agogo faces late fitness test

Barnet have selection problems ahead of Saturday's game against Hereford United.

Caretaker boss Martin Allen has lost midfielder John Doolan, who signed for Doncaster Rovers for £10,000 earlier this week, and could also be without 18-goal attacker Junior Agogo, who is struggling to make the match with a groin injury.

Greg Heald and Ismail Yakubu also face fitness tests, while regular first-choice goalkeeper Lee Harrison is on-loan at Leyton Orient. Ben Strevens, Danny Brown and Toby Oshitola are still unavailable for selection.


Three points a must for Hereford

Hereford United aim to bounce back from last week's 2-1 defeat at Scarborough with a victory at Underhill against Barnet on Saturday, kick off 3pm.

Coach Richard O'Kelly is confident that victory can be achieved, and is a must to ensure the Bulls' play-off hopes stay alive. "The players have showed a willingness to put things right on the training ground," he told the Hereford Times. "We all had a long chat after the Scarborough game and, just like the rest of the season, I cannot fault their attitude and commitment to the club."

"We are remaining positive about things. The top clubs will be playing against each other in the run-in and dropping points in the process. So we need to keep winning, taking advantage of when they slip up. We know we have to win as many matches as possible between now and the end of the season, and we will be taking each match as it comes."

United beat Barnet 4-0 at Edgar Street at the end of November, when Steve Guinan netted the first Conference hatrick for Hereford at Edgar Street. Ben Smith also notched his first goal for the club as United embarked on a long unbeaten run. However, Hereford haven't won on their travels since Boxing Day but have Tony James back in the centre of defence. Striker John Grant remains suspended, but Jamie Pitman will play his last game in midfield before serving a two-match ban.

Graham Turner, the United boss, has been hoping to bring in a striker and O'Kelly continued: "Graham Turner has spoken to a number of players about coming to Hereford, but he's not been successful so far. He's been working hard to bring someone in but it has to be the right person. On a couple of occasions we have spoken to somebody whose circumstances have then changed overnight."

Elsewhere, Jay Lovett has joined Gravesend & Northfleet on-loan after his temporary deal with Hereford ended, and the Hereford Times reports that Rob Purdie scored the goal in the 1-1 draw with Team Bath on Tuesday night. The club wrote that John Grant had netted the United goal.


Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Rose allowed to join England side

The Nationwide Conference have allowed players to join the England National Game XI squad on March 25th for their trip to Holland.

Hereford United's Michael Rose will make the trip, and Matt Baker remains on standby for the game at Beek en Donk, home to BV Sparta 25.

Squad manager Paul Fairclough told BBC Sport: "With the strength in depth that the Football Conference has this year, I could have picked four squads, all of equal quality."

Meanwhile, in last night's reserve friendly match, John Grant's goal secured Hereford United a 1-1 draw with Team Bath.


Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Turner continues striker search

Graham Turner has had problems finding a striker, but assures Hereford United fans that the search will continue.

"One or two players have been offered to us, but I didn't think they were capable of improving anything, so it's not worth taking them," he told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"If the right one comes along and we can improve things, then we'll jump in with both feet. But at the moment, we're still working at it."

Steve Guinan is currently the only recognised striker available, as ex-Crewe Alexandra attacker John Grant has two matches left to run on a three-game ban.

Under the terms of the CVA, United cannot pay a transfer fee for a new player but still have four loan signings left for the season. Their first four have been used by Michael Husbands on Aston Villa, Bournemouth attacker Chukki Eribenne, Jay Lovett of Brentford and midfielder Mick Galloway, who joined from Carlisle United but is now with Scottish third division side Gretna. The transfer deadline is a week on Friday (28th March).


Full-back leaves Hereford after loan period ends

Jay Lovett has returned to Brentford after a two month loan spell at Edgar Street.

The right-back, who filled in for Matt Clarke as he covered from a knee operation, scored one goal for Hereford as his late goal defeat Nuneaton Borough 2-1 last month.

Elsewhere, Michael Rose's call-up to the English National Game XI for the trip to Holland next Tuesday will be discussed by Conference chairmen at tomorrow's league meeting. The clubs will decide whether to release Conference players for the match, which United 'keeper Matt Baker could also play in if he is called up, as he is currently on standby.

Meanwhile, Conference chief executive John Moules was due to meet the Football Association today to discuss plans to expand the league next season, report the Evening News. This would lead to the creation of Conference North and South feeder leagues.

Finally, Scarborough manager Russell Slade was involved in a car accident when travelling home to Nottingham after Saturday's 2-1 win over Hereford. His car swerved to miss a lorry, clipped the nearside kerb and then hit a tree before going through a hedge and ended up on its side in a field. Mr Slade was taken to hospital for treatment for cuts and bruises, and HU-FC.co.uk wish him a swift recovery.


Monday, March 17, 2003

Chester beat Donny in play-off battle

Two sendings off minutes either side of half time didn't help Doncaster Rovers, who went down to a 1-0 defeat to Chester City in tonight's crucial Nationwide Conference match.

The result leaves Doncaster in second place, but puts Chester three points ahead of sixth-placed Hereford, who have still played a game more than all of the sides currently in the play-offs, with the exception of Morecambe, who are four points clear of the Bulls.

Nevertheless, Hereford remain upbeat about their play-off chances. Coach Richard O'Kelly said on Saturday: "We need to take maximum points from our remaining games and I don't want to hear a negative word around the place. We have to remain positive."

Hereford go to Barnet on Saturday, whose boss Peter Shreeves quit the club today. Martin Allen takes over as caretaker for tomorrow's match against Southport and then Saturday's visit of Hereford.


United in friendly against Team Bath

Hereford United play a reserve friendly against Team Bath tomorrow, the university side who reached the second round of the FA Cup this season.

The game should give Graham Turner the opportunity to test out some trialists, and also ensure that Tony James and John Grant maintain match-fit during their suspensions. James should return on Saturday against Barnet but Grant will be out for the next two weeks.

Tonight, there is a big play-off clash in the Conference with Chester City, in fifth and level on points with Hereford but with two matches in hand, face second-placed Doncaster Rovers at the Deva Stadium. Mark Wright's side have never won a live televised clash, and Hereford fans will be hoping that that particular record will continue tonight.


Sunday, March 16, 2003

Pitman faces two match ban

Jamie Pitman picked up his tenth yellow card of the season yesterday and is therefore almost certain to miss the Margate game on March 29th, and also the Burton Albion match a week later.

However despite the two yellow cards yesterday, Hereford United still top the discipline table with 49 yellow and 3 red cards. Telford and Barnet are just below them.

Ian Wright and Ben Smith also have four cards each already this season, but will not face a ban if they collect a fifth as Conference regulations stipulate that the five card ruling only applies until the end of February. Thereafter, they are simply warned about their future conduct.


Supporters criticise tactics

Several supporters who were at yesterday's game at Scarborough were critical of Graham Turner's tactics.

In particular the lack of a striker to come in for John Grant was noted. Why Purdie was not playing out on the right where he seems best suited was also questioned.

The absence of Tony James was evident. Although it cannot be said that any defender in particular played badly, James seems to read the game so well that his presence is very important. Thankfully he should be back for next Saturday's match at Barnet.

For some reason the Bulls seemed unable to keep possession of the ball. Passing was poor and the team did not look to want to fight hard enough to get it back when lost. Pitman and Guinan probably battled as well as anyone but it was not enough. The team did not play to their ability.

It is easy to blame the officials when your teams loses. How the referee did not book Gary Cohen, the Scarborough attacker, early in the game for unsporting behaviour is
incredible. The first booking, against Pitman for a foul, looked harsh at the time given what Cohen had got away with.

After the game, Scarborough manager Russell Slade told media that his team could break on sides easily. "I think you saw that today, we break very quickly. We got a penalty from the break, Kerr had a fanastic chance from the break and so did Taylor. I thought we coped with Hereford reasonably well. They had the long throw which was always going to be an effective weapon for them but I was happy."

Talking about the penalty, when Matt Clarke was given a yellow card, Slade said that "Yes, a decent save". It was the first time this season that Paul Shepherd had missed a penalty. Matt Baker dived to the right and knocked the ball away to safety.


Two top monthly league

The HU-FC.co.uk Predictions League is now up-to-date. After the Scarborough game, 'Beau Brummie' and 'riverswye' lead the March league, while 'len westons last stand' still tops the overall table.


Rose selected for Dutch trip

Hereford United's left back Michael Rose will travel to Holland on Tuesday, March 25th with the England National Game XI squad as manager Paul Fairclough selected him for the tie.

Goalkeeper Matt Baker is on standby for the squad in case of injury, but United have a big advantage over their play-off rivals as almost all will lose a certain number of players for the match.

The full squad for the game, as reported by Ciderspace, is as follows: Wayne Brown (Chester City), Chris Weale (Yeovil Town), John Kennedy (Canvey Island), Scott Guyett and Danny Collins (both Chester City), Michael Rose (Hereford United), Terry Skiverton and Darren Way (both Yeovil Town), Mark Janney and Junior McDougald (both Dagenham and Redbridge), Stewart Drummond, Lee Elam, Adriano Rigoglioso (all Morecambe), Richard Norris and Gregg Blundell (both Northwich Victoria), Junior Agogo (Barnet).

The reserve list is as follows: Matt Baker (Hereford United), Greg Heald (Barnet), Jimmy Jackson (Gravesend and Northfleet), Lee Johnson (Yeovil Town), Anthony Riviere (Welling United), Rosco D'Sane (Aldershot Town)

Of the play-off contenders, Yeovil, Chester and Morecambe lose three players, Dagenham miss two while Hereford lose just Michael Rose. Neither Halifax or Doncaster have any players in the squad. Doncaster play Margate on March 25th, and are the only side currently in the top seven to have a scheduled fixture that night.


Saturday, March 15, 2003

O'Kelly disappointed by result

After today's 2-1 defeat at Scarborough, Hereford United coach Richard O'Kelly was disheartened by the outcome of the match but confident that the Bulls will bounce back.

"With everything that had gone on this week, with travelling up on the Friday and making sure we do things right, we were just looking to repay the good faith that was shown to us by the supporters and come home with something," he told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "In the first twenty minutes, we were comfortable and we looked in control of the game. From their first attack on goal, they scored and a few of the lads were looking for an offside decision but it didn't happen. We got a deserved equaliser from Paul Parry but I don't think we started the second half."

The winning Scarborough goal was created by a combination of Gary Cohen and Cleveland Taylor, and had a hint of offside to it which was not given. O'Kelly continued: "They were in acres of space and you're thinking, surely they must be offside and the general concensus here is that the linesman got it wrong on a few occasions."

John Grant still has two matches left to run on his current suspension, leaving Steve Guinan as the only recognised attacker in the United squad. Graham Turner has been looking at players, said O'Kelly. "We definitely need to bring someone it but it's got to be the right person," he commented. "I know Graham is doing his best to bring a new face in and if that happens it might give the squad a boost."


James still confident of play-offs

Tony James is adamant that Hereford will make the promotion play-offs if all of the games at Edgar Street are won.

United's captain this season told the Evening News before today's 2-1 defeat at Scarborough that if Hereford reach the top five, then anything is possible.

"I have been at Hereford for a quite a while now and this is the best chance we've had of going anywhere," he said. "We're just outside the play-offs and with a good push I think we should end up there and then anything can happen. I would hate to miss out by just a couple of points - I think I would rather blow it all together than just miss out. I'm a little bit surprised by how well we've done considering it was a new team but we've gelled well.

"We've got ourselves in a good position without having someone scoring a lot of goals but we've had people chipping in goals from all over to make up for that. There are eight games left and if we can pick up maximum points from Scarborough today and next week then win our remaining home games we will have a good chance."


Bulls lose to Scarborough

Hereford United's promotion bid was dealt another blow this afternoon, when they lost 2-1 to Scarborough. Hereford went behind on the half hour when David Pounder scored, but Paul Parry then got United back into the game when Steve Guinan crossed for him to head home into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. However, Scarborough got the winner, when a through ball split the Hereford defence midway through the second half for Taylor to hammer home.

Terry's report is here.


Friday, March 14, 2003

Purdie has improved

Rob Purdie has definitely improved as the season has gone on and has genuine potential to progress in the game says Hereford United manager Graham Turner. Both Purdie and Ian Wright should start for the Bulls at Scarborough tommorrow.

" I think he has a terrific amount of skill. We see it in training every week and it was interresting the reaction of the supporters when he came on last week, they were chanting his name. When a new player gets that sort of treatment, I think he grows in confidence and you can see it coming. I think he has the prospect of being a very good player.

Turner is looking for a good effort to keep close to a play-off place.Currently the Bulls are on the same points as fifth placed Chester who have played one game less.

With just eight games to play Turner has stressed there is no room for slip-ups but is under no illusions about the size of the task facing them at the McCain Stadium tomorrow.

"Scarborough are eighth in the table but they won at Leigh last week and are not out of it yet," he said.

"Prior to that they didn't have the best of runs which has taken them out of the play-off reckoning but they won't have given it up and we know it is going to be a tough game.

"It will be a severe test of our credentials but if we want to earn a play-off spot we have to take something from the game and we need at least four points from our next two games."

Meanwhile Turner expects Ben Smith to be full of confidence after his headed goal in the 2-0 defeat of Kettering Town last weekend.

"Ben thrives on goals and is always prepared to have a go and that goal will have done his confidence a power of good," he added.


Thursday, March 13, 2003

Vouchers required for Barnet concessions

Those who gain concessionary rates at Edgar Street should be entitled to similar prices at Barnet, where Hereford United travel to a week on Saturday, report the official Hereford United website.

Bulls fans will be in the covered South East Terrace and will pay £10 for entry, but those with a voucher will enter for £4. People with Junior Bulls cards and concessionary season tickets should contact the club on 01432 276666 for further details and to gain vouchers.

Families are welcome in the covered Family Stand where the concession price for children and OAPs is £6 and adults £12, or alternatively they are welcome in the North Family Terrace which is uncovered and the prices are £8 adults and £4 concessions. Please note that these areas are unsegregated and that the concession prices for these areas only are available to all applicable supporters without the presentation of a voucher.


Wright set for Scarborough start

Hereford United are likely to name Ian Wright in the starting line-up for Saturday's trip to Scarborough, kick off 3pm.

Wright will fill in for the suspended Tony James, while Rob Purdie is set to start in attack for John Grant, who is banned for the next three matches.

31 year-old Wright told the Hereford Times: "I have been disappointed at being left out of the side because I thought I had done well in matches prior to my injury at Northwich - and I always try my hardest. But you just have to respect the manager's decision and take the opportunity when it comes along."

Hereford are one of six competing for the four play-off places, and HUISA chairman Keith Dodd reckons the Bulls can make the end-of-season promotion tournament.

"It's been a very successful season so far and I think that we can make it into the play-offs," he said. "There seems to be an excellent team spirit in the camp and the fans seem to have realised the excellent job that Graham Turner has done in assembling a team of promotion hopefuls - and without paying a transfer fee. Richard O'Kelly has also been a big asset to the club this season and I cannot praise him highly enough."

Saturday's trip to Scarborough will be a very tough game because it's a long trip and a difficult place to get three points. The match against
Scarborough earlier in the season was one of the few in which I think the team has underachieved."

He added: "Personally, I would be delighted with a point on Saturday and I think 13 points in total would see us achieve a place in the top five."


United look for off-field support

Over Easter, there are two schemes being run by the Hereford United Football in the Community officer Adriano Girolami to fund-raise for the club over the summer.

Girolami is running a goalkeeping course for children and is looking at the interest levels over Easter, and also an 'Out of Hours' Childcare Scheme will be run over Easter and for four weeks in the summer.

For more details on the courses, contact Hereford United main office on 01432 276666.


HUISA fund accomodation

Former Scarborough and Bulls manager Colin Addison, who commuted from Hereford, used to joke that he knew he was near Scarborough when he saw road signs proclaiming Oslo to be close!

That would be why HUISA is funding overnight accommodation for the players and management team ahead of this Saturday's trip to the North Yorkshire seaside resort.

It's a near five hour journey on a bus and it would be difficult for players to perform at their best.

Graham Turner commented in the Hereford Times "We all know the importance of the match and, with the welcome donation from HUISA, we can now prepare in a professional manner."


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Halifax aim to make play-offs

Halifax Town expect to come out of administration on March 14th, but boss Chris Wilder says the transfer embargo currently in place on the club has had a negative effect on their play-off hopes.

By coming out of administration, the Shaymen would be eligible for the Conference play-offs but Halifax, like Hereford, are unable to fund any new signings and have tiny playing squads. Wilder complained that his side needs fresh faces. "We are working on a squad of 16 or 17 players," he told the Halifax Courier. "Other clubs have reserve teams and big squads and that enables them to pull players out for a rest when they need one."

Halifax have lost four of their last five games, dropping below Hereford into seventh and Wilder continued: "A new face coming through the door can brighten things up and help others raise their game."


Goals expected at McCain Stadium

Hereford United's matches against Scarborough usually have plenty of goals - and Saturday should be no exception.

Last season, the Bulls won 6-0 at Edgar Street but lost 3-2 in North Yorkshire and back in September, the Seadogs collected three points in a 1-0 win in Hereford. That was the lowest scoring game between the sides since February 1996, when the two played out a goalless draw.

Thirty seven goals have been scored in the last nine encounters, and Scarborough lie in eighth, nine points behind sixth-placed Hereford with a game in hand.

John Grant and Tony James are suspended for Hereford, so Rob Purdie and Ian Wright are expected to deputise.


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Play-off race hots up

Morecambe did Hereford United absolutely no favours in tonight's Conference match which affected the play-off positions, as they beat Margate 3-0. The Shrimps move up to third, above Dagenham & Redbridge. Elsewhere, Yeovil Town beat Leigh RMI 3-1 and Woking drew 1-1 with Farnborough Town.

The FA Trophy semi-finals mean there is no match on Saturday for Yeovil, and Chester City (5th) play Doncaster Rovers (2nd) in a Sky Sports match next Monday night. Therefore, on Saturday, there are only four games affecting the play-offs.

Morecambe's (3rd) superb home record should see them overcome mid-table Barnet, while Halifax Town (7th) are likely to pick up all three points at relegation-threatened Nuneaton Borough. Hereford United have a tricky test at Scarborough, and Southport is the destination for Dagenham & Redbridge (4th), who will be favourites to collect their eleventh consecutive Conference win.


Striker appeal unsuccessful

Attacker John Grant's three match suspension will start on Saturday at Scarborough, as scheduled.

Hereford United had appealed over his sending off at Yeovil Town, in which Grant was dismissed for violent conduct, but it is understood that he has been told that the red card will not be rescinded. Tony James is also banned for the trip, but only for one match.

Meanwhile, the FA has moved to stop non-league clubs moving matches to Premiership grounds, but will not end replays despite pressure from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. The FA has said that any teams switching cup ties to their opponent's ground would, from next season onwards, not be allowed to benefit financially from the move and could even be barred from the competition the following year. There was much discontent after Farnborough Town moved their fourth round tie to Arsenal's Highbury ground in January.

From 2003/2004 onwards, all clubs participating in the FA Cup tie will be required on the entry form to state the maximum capacity at their ground for all matches, regardless of the opposition, report the Press Association. This must be accompanied by a commitment from the club and a declaration signed by the local safety authority or police force, that all home ties, against whatever opponents, can be held with that capacity in place. All potential safety issues would, therefore, have to be resolved before the competition began, although this could have the knock-on effect of reducing capacity levels for some smaller clubs.

If a cup tie still had to be moved, the first alternative would have to be the nearest `suitable' neutral venue, rather than the opponent's home ground.


Sunday, March 09, 2003

Backbone signed up for next season

In response to a question on the HU-FC.co.uk Fans Forum, here is the list of players that we understand are contracted to the club until May 2004.

Those who will be with Hereford United next season are: Matt Baker, Andy Tretton, Tony James, Rob Sawyers and Paul Parry. Baker, Tretton, James and Parry form the backbone of the current starting eleven.

New contracts are expected to be offered to most other squad members within the next couple of months.


Mid-week matches

This is a quieter mid-week in the Conference with only three games on Tuesday evening, the results of which will not affect Hereford United's position.

Only two of the top seven possible play-off teams are involved in matches. Leaders Yeovil are at home to Leigh RMI and Morecambe, also at home, play Margate.

It looks like two home wins. If so, Morecambe will move to third place in front of Dagenham because of their better goal difference. Both teams will have 61 points.

Chester and Hereford will stay in fifth and sixth place respectively with 58 points.


No change in Predictions League

There's no change at the top of either competition in the HU-FC.co.uk Predictions League after the Kettering match, with 'riverswye' leading the March league. 'len westons last stand' still tops the overall table.


Saturday, March 08, 2003

Attendances well up

Attendances at Edgar Street this season for Conference games are now averaging some 2054 per game. The figure is 31% higher than at this stage last season, according to statistics from the Confguide. Also, with a play-off position still in sight, this trend should continue. The extra income is invaluable to the club and may well explain the efforts to pay off the CVA.

Meanwhile, Hereford United still lead the discipline table even counting the two red cards dished out at Yeovil last week. Today, the Bulls collected one yellow card making a total so far this season of 3 reds and 45 yellows. Just behind them come Barnet with 3 reds and 48 yellows.


Clarke happy to be back

Matt Clarke, the Bulls defender, told BBC Hereford & Worcester that he was glad to be back after a two month lay-off. He said that he had come through the game with his knee feeling fine but "I think I need a new set of lungs. I'm just glad to be back."

Clarke, who scored the second Hereford goal, was more pleased with the Bulls picking up three points than his own effort. He continued: "I've been here four years now and sometimes we let ourselves down and today was a banana-skin game.

"With the conditions as they were we did not play particularly well in either half but we came through and took the three points.

"We have got eight games left now and they will all be like cup-finals. If we can win our home games and pick something up away from home we will have a chance. All we can do is just keep going."

Kettering now look doomed. "We've had a difficult run against five of the top six sides, but once again we've come up short," said experienced Poppies defender Lee Howarth.


Hereford get the points

Hereford United kept up their challenge for a play-off place with a 2-0 home win against Kettering. Ben Smith in the first half and Matt Clarke in the second half were the scorers. Conditions were difficult with gusty winds and a sticky pitch. The Bulls stay in sixth position with 58 points from 34 games, but as both Chester and Halifax lost today, there is still all to play for.

Terry's report is here.


Smith relishing Football League chance

It's been a busy season for Hereford United midfielder Ben Smith - he's played seventeen times!

For the first time in two years, Smith has commanded a first team place as injuries have eased and after recovering from a pre-season dislocated shoulder, he has returned to the United side to lose just four times since mid-November.

"It's nice just to be playing again and it's the first time in two years I've played 15 games in a row," said Smith in today's Evening News. "Everything has gone really well. I scored a few goals when I came back although lately my form has been pretty average - not brilliant but not bad either.

"I don't know what's happening with my contract but if I was to stay and got a good pre-season under my belt I would like to think the fans would see a 20 per cent better player. When you have not played for a while and especially when you've missed pre-season training, and I've missed two pre-seasons on the trot it's quite hard and takes a while to adjust."

Hereford's results greatly improved when he returned to the side, and Smith reckons that if the style of football is maintained then Division Three status is destined to embrace Edgar Street once again. "We are encouraged to play it up from the back, through the middle and then get the ball out to exciting players like Paul Parry," he added. "I think we are as good as anybody. "Yeovil are the best team in the league but of the rest of the teams challenging I don't think there is much in it.

"Graham Turner has done brilliantly. If you think about where we finished last season and the fact he practically built a new squad I think he would be delighted if we could maintain our position and get into the play-offs. Once we are there then anything can happen.

"I've seen all the teams like Chester, Doncaster and Morecambe and we are as good as them, it's just about what happens on the day."


No doubt over game

Despite heavy rain on Friday and through the night, today's Nationwide Conference match between Hereford United and Kettering Town at Edgar Street is on. Kick off is at 3pm.


Friday, March 07, 2003

Only one appeal

Graham Turner has been talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester about last week's dismissals of both Tony James and John Grant at Yeovil.

The Bulls have appealed against Grant's sending off but decided not to go ahead with an appeal over the decision against James.

Turner said: "It's the interpretation of Tony James tackle. He did catch the lad. He also caught some of the ball and I think that he took the lad first before making contact with the ball. I've watched it quite a number of times and I think you can't get into the habit of appealing for everything and I felt the interpretation of the referee; another referee would not have given a penalty, would not have sent him off, would have given a corner, but Mr Dorr not only gave a penalty but decided it was a sending-off offence and I think that was an interpretation of the incident rather than us being absolutely clear that it was not a foul. So I don't think we had the grounds to appeal on that one."

"But we felt strongly about the John Grant situation," he continued. "James will miss the Scarborough match and obviously we have got Ian Wright available waiting to come into the side and Ian will probably be the replacement for that match."

Turning to tomorrow's game against Kettering, Turner commented: "I think supporters will expect us to steamroll Kettering, to win comfortably. I don't think it's going to be that way, I don't think Kettering are going to lie down and just except defeat. They have signed one or two players recently. So it could be as tough as any game we have had this season for different reasons. We always get some crazy results going into the end of the season. You get some sides at the bottom beating the top sides quite unexpectively. A reason for that is they are scrapping for their lives and tend to adopt a style of football that is very direct, bit crude at times but they clear their lines and take no chances. And we expect them to work their socks off.

"We have got a bit of quality about our side. We have had a run that has been indifferent over the last five or six matches. I think we can do a lot better and we have got to start with Kettering. The whole exercise is about taking three points and keeping us in contention for a play-off place."


New poultry deal for Bulls

Hereford United have extended their sponsorship deal with Sun Valley.

The food manufacturers are part of American giant Cargill and have their European headquarters in the city. They have been the club's principal shirt sponsors since 1990. Founded by a consortium of local farmers in 1960, Sun Valley still has its roots in rural Herefordshire.

The new deal will run for two years, ending in May 2005.


Turner ready for six-pointer

Both sides need the points as Hereford United host Kettering Town in the Nationwide Conference tomorrow, kick off 3pm.

Eleven points from safety, Kettering Town have had a torrid season following last season's promotion from the Dr. Martens League. Manager Carl Shutt has battled against a dire financial situation and on their travels, the Poppies have picked up just ten points from a possible forty five, scoring just ten goals in the process. "We will fight on, we are not throwing in the towel yet," he said optimistically.

Graham Turner, the United boss, told the Evening News: "Carl Shutt's got to be talking positive and I wouldn't expect anything less but you always get some funny results at this stage of the season and we have to make sure it doesn't happen to us."

On the other hand, Hereford's home record reads won seven, drawn five and lost four, with a goal difference of +12. They are currently sixth and battling for a play-off place.

Kettering have lost five of their last six Conference matches, but Hereford have picked up just two points from their last possible nine. They haven't, though, lost a league game at Edgar Street since November, a record which stretches back for seven games.

"It will probably be no easier than Yeovil. They are scrapping for their lives," Turner continued. "It will be a different sort of match but I think we have got to get three points on board.

"At this stage in the season it doesn't matter how the points come because it's all about keeping up in touch with the play-off places. It's looking good for us at this stage with no injury worries and we've got Matt Clarke back on board who had 15 minutes against Yeovil and also played for 80 minutes for the reserves against Telford United."


Thursday, March 06, 2003

Chester track former United striker

One-time Hereford United attacker Ian Foster has been linked with a move to the Bulls' play-off rivals Chester City.

Liverpudlian Foster was released by Kidderminster Harriers last week and had been set to join Burton Albion, but decided to stay full-time and trained at the Deva Stadium last Friday. He moved from Hereford to Barrow in 1998, moving south to Kidderminster a year later as the Cumbrians were in dire financial difficulties.

Chester boss Mark Wright told the Kidderminster Shuttle: "If we can get Ian Foster here it will be another big plus for us because he's quick, he dribbles and he gets at people. If we can do a deal it will be beneficial to us."

Despite pushing for the Third Division play-offs, Harriers recorded an attendance of just 2,006 for Tuesday's 1-0 win over Southend United at Aggborough last week. It was just four people above their lowest Football League attendance, and highlights the financial constraints that boss Ian Britton finds himself under. In comparison, Hereford United recorded a crowd of 2,322 for their last home game against Stevenage Borough, which they drew 2-2.

It is hoped that a similar audience will turn out for Saturday's game against Kettering on Saturday. Carl Shutt's side will miss ex-Hereford midfielder Scott Goodwin through suspension, and Danny Holyoak and Michael McKenzie are also banned. Striker Carlin Otonga is a doubt with a knee injury.


Turner set for Grant appeal

Hereford United boss Graham Turner will appeal over striker John Grant's red card at Yeovil Town last Saturday.

The Bulls manager felt that Grant was provoked into his sending-off, which are likely to earn him a three match ban unless the Football Association overturns to referee's decision. However, Turner will not appeal to rescind Tony James' red card for a late tackle in added time.

Turner reviewed video evidence and told the Hereford Times: "Danny (Williams) was being kicked in the legs by one player and in the back by another and, although Grant did go flying in, he did no more than others who remained on the pitch."

If the appeal is unsuccessful, both will be banned for the trip to Scarborough on March 15th but are both likely to start on Saturday when United host bottom-of-the-table Kettering Town.

Kettering have won just twice on their away trips this season, and Hereford could start Matt Clarke at right back after he finished his recovery from a knee operation. The last match in the process came on Tuesday night, when he played eighty minutes against Telford United in a friendly match. Hereford won 4-2, with Jay Lovett scoring one and young attacker Justin Rowe netting a hatrick.


Ex-Bulls favourite to run marathon

Stewart Phillips, Hereford United's all-time leading goalscorer, is to run the London Marathon to raise money for a child with cerebal palsy.

The Hereford Times reports that Phillips will aim to raise funds for three year old William Gregory, who requires the money to go to London to receive treatment for some water which is on his brain, and also to pay for the specialist equipment required at their Herefordshire home.

Phillips said: "I have run a few half marathons and recorded quite good times at that distance, but I know the step up is a big one and I have been training hard and running more than fifty miles a week to build up my stamina."

If you would like to sponsor Stewart, please call the Archways Fitness Centre, Hereford, on 01432 354359.


Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Yeovil help Bulls

Yeovil have helped the Bulls play-off aspirations tonight by winning 3-2 at Halifax. However Dagenham move three points ahead of Hereford after their 3-2 win against lowly Stevenage.

Hereford remain in sixth place in the Conference table having played the same number of games as seventh place Halifax but one more than fifth place Morecambe. All three clubs have 55 points.


Monday, March 03, 2003

Ones to watch

After the setback at Yeovil, Bulls fans will be watching the progress of the other top seven clubs this week. There are several Tuesday evening games which could affect placing but at least it will allow those clubs involved to catch up with their fixtures.

Midweek matches to look out for include Dagenham vs Stevenage, which the Daggers really should win, and Halifax vs Yeovil. It will be surprising if Yeovil can't take three points back home with them and will do Hereford a great favour if they win as it will keep Halifax below United. Should Halifax get a point then the Bulls will drop to seventh place.

On Saturday, Hereford entertain Kettering, which should produce three points. If not, then a play-off place will start to look increasing unlikely. Most of the other top teams have fairly easy games as well, as Burton are unlikely to stop Chester and both the Daggers and Doncaster should overcome Margate and Gravesend respectively. Halifax should emerge victorious over Southport and Woking, at home, will have to dramatically improve to take anything from Yeovil. The most likely upset could be at Telford, who put four goals past Scarborough on Saturday, where Morecombe, whose away form is mediocre, are the visitors.

It is feasible that Hereford could rise to fourth place by Saturday evening but a week is a long time in football


Sunday, March 02, 2003

Parry wants league football

Hereford United midfielder Paul Parry is eager to move into the Football League - with the Bulls.

In yesterday's Evening News, Parry, who is twenty-two, said he hopes to gain promotion with Hereford within the next year and a half as his contract runs out in May 2004.

"I still want to get into the Football League and have got a good opportunity to do it with Hereford," he said. "I'm still only 22 and I've still got another year with Hereford to make that happen. If it doesn't then may be that might be the right time to think about a move."

In the summer, Parry was one of just six players retained by boss Graham Turner. "Perhaps having a big clearout and bringing in some fresh faces worked for us," he continued. "We had a good pre season and the lads have gelled but we couldn't have pictured how well we would do this season.

"At the start of the season a place in the top half would have been a major improvement on last year so to be in the play offs is pretty amazing. Fitness is important for full time teams and we have to make sure we do the extra work to maintain our league position."


Few points scored at Yeovil

After the Yeovil match, 'riverswye' leads the monthly HU-FC.co.uk Predictions League, while 'len westons last stand' still tops the overall table.


More from Turner

Graham Turner told the Non-League Paper yesterday that "We are not very happy".

Turner said that he had no complaints with the 34th minute dismissal of John Grant following the brawl which followed a challenge by Yeovil skipper Terry Skiverton on Danny Williams. Grant appeared to join in and Turner continued: "I had no complaints, but Skiverton should have gone as well.I questioned the referee and he said although Skiverton had kicked a player on the ground, he did not think it was a sending-off offence and gave him a yellow card."

Many Hereford fans could not understand the referees decision to award the free-kick resulting from the incident to the Bulls when it was Grant who was sent-off.

As regards the second sending-off, when Tony James tackled Yeovil's Kim Grant, Turner said: "We are sure Tony got something on the ball and it was a bad decision. We shall have to look at the video before deciding whether to protest."

As things stand Hereford will be without both James and Grant for the match at Scarborough in two weeks time.


Saturday, March 01, 2003

The inquest

On the field today's game was certainly packed with action. Two red cards, four goals,and an excellent attendance. To be fair Yeovil looked like they deserve to be champions. Their second and third goals were quality, but the scoreline was probably too harsh on the Bulls. There were spells especially in the first part of the second half when Hereford played some good football and were unlucky not to score.

However, for Hereford to lose two players through dismissals did not help. John Grant had not featured in the game before his sending off and had little reason to argue with the referee's decision. There may be more to debate about Tony James' challenge. Although the referee had to act, maybe a yellow card would have been fairer. Hereford boss Graham Turner believes he got good contact on the ball and will study a video before appealing.

After the game Yeovil manager Gary Johnson told BBC Bristol: "It was a fanastic result for us and a very important one as well. We knew it was going to be a passionate affair and it was important to stay professional ourselves.

"If one of our boys had got a booking in that melee, it meant that the referee thought that we were the instigators. It was a fantastic atmosphere, and credit to Hereford they helped to create the atmosphere with their following."

Speaking to BBC Hereford and Worcester, Andy Tretton said: "I felt we did ok in the first half although we were a little disappointed with the goal from a set piece. At the start of the second half, I thought we were superb. We kept the ball and they could not really get at us but we didn't score when we were on top.

"They (Yeovil) look very strong and have got a big squad to cover any injuries or suspensions and they are probably the best side that we have played so good luck to them."


Hereford defeated by Yeovil

Hereford were defeated 4-0 by Yeovil this afternoon in front of a crowd of over 6,000. The Bulls were down to ten men when John Grant was sent off in the middle of the first half. To make matters even worse, Captain Tony James was also sent off just before the end of the game.

Terry's report is here.