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Saturday, February 26, 2005

James saves Bulls Blushes

Hereford United were held to a 1-1 draw at Eastwood Town this afternoon in the F.A. Trophy fifth round. The pitch, which had a large slope on it, was in very poor condition but was deemed playable after a pitch inspection this morning.

Hereford's side featured a new signing,Brian Smikle from West Bromwich Albion, who is believed to have signed untill the end of the season. He started the game playing right midfield and was subbed in the second half.

The game started brightly with chances for both sides to open the scoring but both failed to. Danny Carey-Bertram found a route through on goal but was denied by the 'keeper Danny Bryant, who had a great game, and he made a second save from Rob Purdie who failed to convert the rebound. At the other end the bounce of the pitch took the ball away from a Hereford defender, not for the first time, but the attack hit the post.

The game settled down slightly after this and there were no clear cut chances in the remainder of the half. Craig Stanley had fired wide, Danny Williams had a free-kick saved and Carey-Bertram had shot over before the end of the half. Again the surface troubled Tony James, who gifted the ball to the opposition as Eastwood had another clear run on goal. Craig Mawson rushed out, but was beaten to it by an attacker, but his goalbound effort was cleared by Tamika Mkandawire.

The second half started with a flurry of chances for United, who were now shooting down the slope. Carey-Bertram won a free-kick, which Williams took and the goalkeeper pushed wide of the post and Purdie's free header at the far post forced another good save and another corner.

Simon Travis hammered a shot from the right-hand edge of the area, which was blocked by the fist of the goalkeeper, and dropped onto the post. However, in between these opportunities for the Bulls, the Badgers went up the other end and took the lead. They attacked down the left and crossed into the middle, where Knox was on hand to bury from twelve yards into the bottom corner.

Hereford attacked but couldn't find any clear cut chances. Williams' back post header luckily rebounded off a defenders head and wide and Graham Hyde volleyed off target from twenty yards. Lee Mills was introduced with around twenty minutes left on the clock in place of Purdie, and David Brown soon replaced new signing Smikle.

Lee Mills' presence eventually paid off when, after a great passing move by Hereford, he was held back just inside the penatly box and the referee rewarded the Bulls with a penalty with just eight minutes remaining. Captain James stepped up and hammered the ball low into the net, sending the 'keeper the wrong way and saved his side and the 400 or so away supporters from embarrasment. The Badgers though, almost stole the game with two minutes to go. The two strikers opened up the Hereford defence but were denied a winner by the outstreched arm of Mawson.

The replay, just what Graham Turner had said he didn't want, will be played this coming Tuesday night, and the HFA Senior Cup semi-final will be re-arranged. It will be interesting to see if more than 985, the attendance today, will be bettered for the replay.

HUFC Team: Mawson, Travis, James, Mkandawire, Robinson, Williams, Stanley, Hyde, Smikle, Carey-Bertram, Purdie. Subs: Scott, Green, Tretton, Brown, Mills.