Hereford mastered their local rivals and the tricky conditions to record a well deserved victory at Edgar Street this evening. Manager John Trewick welcomed Ryan Green back, with Richard Rose reverting to bench warming duties, and opted to continue with Leon Constantine rather than Mathieu Manset who was available having served his suspension.
The Bulls opened the exchanges attacking the Blackfriars end, playing into a blustery wind and driving rain. Darren Jones played a neat one-two with Constantine but the move broke down. The newly energised Constantine appeared to have gained confidence from his two goals at Burton, and five minutes had elapsed when he cleverly played Gavin McCallum in, and he was unceremoniously brought down in the box. A simple decision for the referee, and Ryan Valentine dispatched the spot kick with his customary aplomb. A most welcome early lead for the Bulls.
The wind was causing havoc as Shrewsbury forced a series of corners. Using the wind to help with inswing created some danger, including a header against his own post by a Hereford defender. However, the Bulls weathered the storm, Adam Bartlett was called on to palm a rasping shot to safety, and Constantine and Sam Gwynne assisted the defence with some timely clearances. At the other end, in what was an entertaining period, Craig King had a shot cleared to Gwynne whose follow up was blocked and a swirling, speculative effort from Keith Lowe only narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Then, on the half hour mark, Hereford doubled their lead. The lively McCallum raced on to a well timed through ball from Constantine. His initial shot was saved by Arestidou, surely the only goalkeeper to contain all the vowels (and in the correct order too), but the ball rebounded straight back into his path, and his second effort found the back of the net.
With a two goal cushion, the home side were anticipating a welcome break from their exertions, and their turn to have the wind at their backs. The Shrews could muster only a couple of shots from distance which did not unduly trouble Bartlett. Gwynne was rather harshly penalised for a trip, and the resulting free kick was cleared for a corner. This was scrambled clear for another, and with only a minute left before the break, some fatal hesitancy in the box allowed Waide Fairhurst to prod the ball home.
HT: HUFC 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 1
Hereford continued to create the better chances as the second half began. After Gwynne was fouled, Valentine's low free kick took the slightest of deflections and whistled only narrowly the wrong side of the post. King and Kenny Lunt skilfully set up McCallum who curled his shot just wide of the mark. McCallum then held up and turned well but the shot lacked power, and a curling Valentine cross cleared Lowe at the far post. On two occasions, Danny Blanchett almost scored direct from corners as he found the required wind assisted trajectory.
McCallum was then felled by what our egg-chasing friends would deem a "high tackle" from the exotically named Cansdell-Sherriff, who would presumably have been handed a period in the sin bin in that code. Mr. Horwood, who it must be said handled the game with fairness and sensitivity, on this occasion thought a yellow card was sufficient punishment. Things might have been different if Mr Pitman's magic bag had contained the fake blood capsules. Anyway, I digress...
As the last quarter of an hour was reached, it became apparent that the Bulls strikeforce was, quite understandably, tired. There were calls for fresh legs from the crowd, but these went strangely unheeded. The defence held strong, despite some worrying moments, notably when a free kick was conceded on the edge of the box. Much trepidation as a shot found its way through a crowd of legs, but there was Lunt to make a goal-line clearance. Manset finally entered the fray as an astonishing five added minutes were announced. Despite ending on the back foot, the Bulls thoroughly deserved their win over a disappointing Shrewsbury outfit, and move up to 16th in the table.
FT: HUFC 2 SHREWSBURY TOWN 1
Attendance: 2913 including 630 Salopians.
HUFC: Bartlett, Green, Jones, Blanchett, Valentine, Lowe, Lunt, Gwynne, King, Constantine, McCallum (Manset 90).
Shrewsbury: Arestidou, Holden, Coughlan, Langmead, Cansdell-Sherriff, Dunfield, Murray, Devitt, (Robinson 63), McIntyre, Hibbert (Elder 72), Fairhurst (Riza 72).