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Monday, March 28, 2005

Bulls succeed with ten men again

Hereford United cruised past relegation strugglers Northwich Victoria at Edgar Street this afternoon. However, the good performance had a shadow cast over it as Hereford played out the final half hour with ten men, as, in similar fashion to Leeroy William's sending off on Friday, Carey-Bertram was given his marching orders.

United made a few changes from the side that began the romp at Farnborough. Rob Purdie, Mark Robinson and Adam Stansfield were all promoted to the starting eleven from the subs bench. Simon Travis was given a rest as he was named on the bench, due to him carrying a hernia. Leeroy Williams began his three match ban and Danny Williams was out with an ankle injury. Tom Smith was left out of the squad as Lee Mills and Andy Williams were recalled to the bench.

A steady first half an hour saw few chances as the visitors frustrated their hosts. Carey-Bertram did have the ball in the net early on though when, after latching onto Stansfield's flick header, he slotted the ball home but Stansfield was deemed offside. Robinson shot wide from thirty yards before his long ball, headed on by Stansfield, led to United first real chance. Carey-Bertram took the ball in his stride, cut inside, before cracking a low shot wide of the near post.

Purdie raced past three players on the left before crossing for Stansfield, who opened the scoring just after the half hour mark. His first touch took him neatly around his marker before he fired into the roof of the net at the near post. Stansfield won another long ball in the penalty area moments after and was seemingly shoved by his maker. The referee waved any appeals away as the ball fell to Purdie, who shot just wide from twenty yards out.

The Bulls doubled their lead four minutes later and had goalkeeper Andy Ralph to thank for his part in the build up. He cleared straight to Carey-Bertram, twenty five yards from goal, and he rounded his marker before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner before Ralph could get back in position. Pitman shot wide from long range as United continued to put pressure on a shell shocked Northwich defence, but it fell wide after a deflection off the back of a defender.

Craig Stanley's quick free kick resulted in United's third goal in ten minutes. He found Pitman on the half way line who then found the run of Carey-Bertram beyond the last man with a delightful pass. Carey-Bertram's first touch hit the goalkeeper, but it fell to Stansfield who fired into the top corner from the edge of the box for his second goal. Stanley shot towards the top corner but Ralph denied him with a decent save before the first half ended.

The second period, like the first, started slowly but Hereford continued to dominate without really having to push too hard. Steve Burr made two half time changes, including a switch in goalkeepers as Ben Connet was introduced. Robinson's corner was met by a towering header by Andy Tretton but it was superbly tipped over by Connet. Purdie skinned two on the left before crossing to the edge of the box where Darryl Taylor sliced his volley. It fell to Stanley and he struck it wide of the mark.

The Bulls broke with Carey-Bertram who then knocked play wide to Stanley. He found Pitman in the area with a low cross before the stand in skipper was denied a goal from a glorious chip, heading for the top corner, as Connet tipped it behind for a corner. Then, in a moment of madness, Carey-Bertram appeared to head butt Jon McCarthey, although there did not seem to be much, if any, contact. The referee missed the incident, but his assistant noticed it and Carey-Bertram was duly shown the red card.

Pitman played another top class pass to the right for Taylor who dribbled forward before finding Stansfield, though his shot on the turn failed to trouble the 'keeper. Tretton then began a quality move from the back, when he nut megged his opponent. Stansfield found Green, who layed on to Taylor at the end of it, but his shot was inches wide of the far post. Lee Mills replaced man of the match Stansfield with twenty minutes to go, probably to give Stansfield a rest before the clash at Stevenage on Saturday.

Purdie caused problems all afternoon for the Northwich defence and won a free kick after skinning two players in a dangerous position in the build up to United's fourth and final goal. He got up to cross in the free-kick to Tamika Mkandawire, whose header rebounded off a defender. Mills was first to it and had a simple task of heading into the back of the net from close range. Graham Hyde and Williams were introduced late on in place of Pitman and Stanley as Graham Turner gave his centre midfield partnership a well-earned break.

Northwich went on to create a couple of good opportunities at the end of the game, but poor finishing let them down. Johnny Allan had three great chances in the final ten minutes. He fired wide from a good position after Mark Quayle had headed down for him and then he fired well over the bar from a good central position. Then he latched onto a good long pass from Karl Munroe, but hit the post when one on one with Craig Mawson. Chris Gaghan had the ball at his feet with the goal in front of him, but was robbed by Ryan Green at the last minute.

Hereford will be more than satisfied with their Easter period, which has seen them score 10 times without conceding. However, they will be disappointed with the two stupid red cards that have been picked up along the way. It would be a good idea to play the HFA Senior Cup semi-final against Kington this Thursday, to get rid of one match on both Carey-Bertram's and Leeroy Williams' suspensions and also allowing Turner to have a look at any trialists before the transfer dead line this Thursday.

The crowd of 2,931, including 76 away fans, saw Hereford's best home win of the season.

HUFC Team: Mawson, Green, Tretton, Mkandawire, Robinson, Purdie, Stanley, Pitman, Taylor, Carey-Bertram, Stansfield. Subs: Travis, Scott, Hyde, A Williams, Mills.

NVFC: Ralph, Charnock, Garner, Handyside, Carr, McCarthy, Gaghan, Garvey, Band, Allan, Quayle. Subs: Munroe, Mayman, Connet, Bailey, Byrne.