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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A49 BRAGGING RIGHTS TO SLOPS

In a game of few clear-cut chances, Hereford were comfortably swept aside by Graham Turner’s Shrewsbury Town in this afternoon’s A49 derby. Despite a reasonably bright start from the Bulls, the superior finishing and awareness of the visitors gave them a well deserved victory.

An early corner for the home side gave fans a chance to see the latest training ground move. No fewer than five Bulls congregated on the corner of the box, apparently in deep conversation, and then dispersed to all points of the compass as the ball was delivered. However, a fellow Bull proved elusive for Joe Colbeck. Terry Gornell came close for the visitors, latching on to a through ball and firing wide from an acute angle. Nicky Featherstone’s energetic harrying gave some cause for hope, though a half-hearted penalty appeal when he tumbled seemed optimistic at best. Will Evans embarked on a promising run which led to a corner, and Delroy Facey was penalised for a shove when well placed.

Despite more than holding their own for the opening quarter of an hour, Shrewsbury seemed less frenetic in their approach play, and it was a familiar story as they took the lead. After winning a corner which was cleared by Michael Townsend, the ball ran for Joe Jacobson out wide on the left wing. The defender delivered an exquisite cross onto an unmarked Gornell’s head, and Adam Bartlett stood no chance. Hereford’s response consisted of a Colbeck long shot which was way off target, and a cross from the same player which Facey nodded wide. Meanwhile, Jermaine Grandison, impressive in both name and stature (does he have a brother called Stretton?), did well to foil Featherstone’s determined run. Fellow defender Ian Sharps then headed Yoann Arquin’s cross to safety. Hereford then won a free kick which Colbeck wasted, though in the aftermath, Evans unleashed a piledriver which, unfortunately, went directly to Chris Neal in the Shrewsbury goal.

Clinical finishing, not a familiar concept at Edgar Street this term, then gave promotion chasing Town a second goal. 27 minutes had passed when Matt Richards’ astute pass found James Collins. Bulls defenders backed off, Richards, noticing everything opening up in front of him, took aim and fond Bartlett’s net from the edge of the penalty area. Bartlett did well to claim a hanging cross from Jacobson, and then was out quickly to smother a Gornell chance. At the other end, a Colbeck centre bounced up against a defensive hand, but appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Delroy Facey and Shrewsbury captain Ian Sharps, Facey was subbed at half-time - pictures from Andy Compton of the Hereford Journal/Shropshire Newspapers

HT: HUFC 0 SHREWSBURY TOWN 2

It has to be said that at no stage of the second half did Hereford seem likely to get back into contention; indeed Shrewsbury played with conviction, and one felt that they could step up a gear if necessary. In an early move, Bartlett was called on to tip a fierce Collins shot over the bar. Featherstone won possession in midfield and fed half time substitute Tom Barkhuizen, but his cross was way too deep, and shortly afterwards, the Blackpool loanee received a headed pass from Rob Purdie, but again the delivery lacked accuracy.

Mark Wright’s free kick was well saved, and despite the Bulls forcing a series of corners, the finishing touches were lacking. Either the ball would not fall for a Hereford player, or shots were off target or blocked by an alert Shrews rearguard. Harry Pell’s run at the heart of the back for created a chance for Arquin which was blocked. The introduction of Nathan Elder and Richard Peniket made little difference to the situation. Barkhuizen’s lively run ended with a pass to Colbeck who screwed his shot horribly wide.

Joe Colbeck tries to hold on

Pell flicked on a Colbeck free kick, but could not find a colleague, whilst the dangerous Collins fired into the side netting when well placed for the visitors. New boy Ben Purkiss, who looked promising, calmly prevented a Gornell threat. Featherstone, maintaining his personal energy level, then won a late throw which Barkhuizen launched into the box, and once more no Bull could get in a shot. Shrewsbury were in the comfort zone, and completed the double over a disappointing Hereford side.

FT: HUFC 0 SHREWSBURY TOWN 2

Attendance: 3515, including 1256 from Salop.

HUFC: Bartlett, Purkiss, Green, Townsend, Purdie, Evans (Elder 68), Pell, Colbeck, Featherstone, Facey (Barkhuizen 46), Arquin (Peniket 77).

SHREWSBURY TOWN: Neal, Grandison, Jacobson, Sharps, Wright, Collins, Richards, McAllister, Taylor, Regan, Gornell.