Midland Football League Newsletter
18th May 2016
Travels of the Press Officer
Saturday 14th May
Pelsall Villa 0 Nuneaton Griff 7
Finally, it looks like the Division 1 season will be completed as glorious sunshine greets my arrival at The Bush Ground. Even better, following last week’s postponement, we have goalposts at either end and players warming up on the pitch. The game was vital for Pelsall who needed a point to finish out of the bottom two and avoid relegation. Griff were guaranteed a 3rd placed finish and their side was full of attacking talent. Griff were kicking up the slope in the first half and made their intentions clear immediately. After just 30 seconds, a cross from Dave Barnett was headed goalwards by Mitch Piggon. Villa keeper Josh Mellors made the save but it was a poor miss by Piggon. However, Griff took the lead 64 seconds into the game. Josh Ruff picked up the ball outside the area, picked his spot and fired low past Mellors. Piggon should have made it two in the 7th minute when through one-on-one but Mellors stood firm and blocked the shot. Ruff was dictating play in the middle of the park and he was just off target with another drive a minute later. Griif continued to pour forward. Piggon beat Craig Timmins for pace but again found Mellors in inspired form as the keeper saved his effort. In the 12th minute, Griff wasted another glorious chance. Luke Shorthouse played the ball inside to Danny Harris who danced past a couple of defenders but his shot was too near to Mellors who again made the save. Griff’s second goal came in the 18th minute with Piggon finally hitting the target, heading home an inch-perfect cross from Barnett. Up to this point, nothing had been some from Villa but Callum Phillips gave the home side some hope when his shot was saved by George Woodward. Alex Naughton was the next Griff player to miss the target, blasting over from another cross from the impressive Barnett. Callum Phillips dragged a shot well wide for Villa as the home side attempted to reduce the deficit. Barnett and Harris combined well for Griff with Harris shooting just over the bar. Ruff was just off target with a shot on the turn. Griff’s third goal came in the 33rd minute. Leading scorer Shorthouse found himself in space on the left and his shot was too fierce for Mellors. Excellent footwork from Ruff saw him again create space and again miss the target. 5 minutes before the break, Griff had a 4th, Shorthouse again creating space and finishing well. Callum Phillips had a great chance for Villa just before the interval when a poor pass from Anton Astley was intercepted, but his shot was straight at Woodward.
The second half continued the theme of the first with Griff increasing their lead in the 49th minute. Piggon played the ball inside to Shorthouse who looked as though he had missed the chance but the ball bobbled in off his shin. Ruff saw a shot saved by Mellors and then Piggon missed an open goal, finding the side-netting. Shorthouse had the ball in the net again but was ruled offside and seconds later, substitute Sam Belcher found the net but his effort was ruled out for handball. An excellent run from halfway by Barnett, saw him break into the box but his fine shot was well saved at his near post by Mellors. In the 71st minute, Ruff ran straight through the middle of the Villa defence but again Mellors stood firm. A Villa clearance found Naughton some 40 yards out and his first-time volley was just wide. Griff grabbed a 6th in the 88th minute when Piggon played the ball to Shorthouse and his effort was followed u#in by Belcher. Shorthouse was again through on goal but Mellors saved again. In the 92nd minute, substitute Gregg Maughan heading home for Griff’s 7th. A fantastic performance by Griff but spare a thought for Josh Mellors, the Villa keeper, without whom the scoreline would have been far more emphatic.
Wednesday 18th May
JW Hunt Cup Semi-Final
Lichfield City 3 Wolverhampton Sporting Community 0
The first of two semi-finals in two days at the home of AFC Wulfrunians. With both sides having a decent season at Step 6, Lichfield City finishing 7th in Division 1 and Wolves Sporting 4th in the West Midlands Regional League, a close encounter was anticipated. Both sides had strikers with an excellent goal return this season – Tony Clarke with 38 for Lichfield and Daniel Westwood with 40 goals for Sporting. Lichfield got off to the perfect start by taking the lead after 90 seconds. Martin Crawford seemed to scuff his shot but it had enough pace to beat Luke Stevens and nestle in the bottom corner. A good run from Jon Letford for Sporting came to nothing, however, the pace of the WMRL side was causing problems for the Lichfield defence. Shaquille Reid went close for Sporting and, at the other end, a Gavin Hurren free-kick was hammered against the defensive wall. Sporting were close to an equaliser in the 24th minute. Kyle Delaney went on a direct run through the middle of the Lichfield defence. Keeper Connor McCarthy came off his line but his clearance hit Delaney and rebounded towards goal. Before Delaney could supply the finish, Joe Haines made a superb clearance to take the ball away. Just before half-time, Tony Clarke was clean through on goal from an offside position but when he attempted to round Stevens, the Sporting keeper blocked the effort.
Sporting were the first to threaten after the break when a good run by Josh Samento ended with his cross cut out by McCarthy. Clarke had another decent chance for Lichfield but his shot was cleared off the line. Lichfield doubled their lead on the hour mark. A cross from Clarke was flicked goalwards by Dave Yonwin. Stevens did well to push the ball against the bar but Tyrone Smith was on hand to bundle the ball home. Three minutes later, Clarke forced a fine point-blank save from Stevens. Substitute Trea Bertie had a good chance for Lichfield but his shot was easily cleared off the line. Bertie again went close with a volley as Lichfield began to dominate. A cross from Bertie was too hard for Smith and the ball cannoned into the striker and away for a goal kick. Try as they might, Sporting could not breach the Lichfield defence and it was Lichfield that sealed victory two minutes into time added on. A rf#free-kick was floated into the box and when the ball fell to Bertie, he rifled the ball home through a mass of bodies in the penalty area to send Lichfield through to a Molineux final next week.
John Mills Hereford 52
Craig Bannister Sporting Khalsa 43
Lei Brown Highgate United 33
Jamie Cuss Westfields 31
Jordan Nadat Alvechurch 30
Pablo Haysham Hereford 29
Karl Edwards Alvechurch 27
Matt Langham Shepshed Dynamo 27
Mustapha Bundu Hereford 25
Mykel Beckley Coleshill Town 25
Jamie King AFC Wulfrunians 25
Joey Butlin Walsall Wood 24
Ben Ward-Cochrane Loughborough Uni 24
Michael Symons Hereford 24
Kieran Debrouwer Heanor Town 23
Michael Reeve Shepshed Dynamo 23
The final game of the Division 1 season took place at The Bush Ground and 3rd placed Nuneaton Griff ran out comfortable 7-0 winners to consign Pelsall Villa to a bottom two finish. Luke Shorthouse scored a hat-trick for Griff taking his season tally to 44.
Luke Shorthouse Nuneaton Griff 44
Tony Clarke Lichfield City 38
Ryan Seal Hinckley AFC 37
Josh O’Grady Coventry United 33
Ryan Harkin Coventry Copsewood 26
Luke Richards Hinckley AFC 26
Dave Yonwin Heather St Johns,
Lichfield City, Pelsall Villa 25
Marco Adaggio Hinckley AFC 24
James Hicks Leicester Road 24
Jamie Clarke Littleton 23
Kyle Turner Atherstone Town, Southam United
Bromsgrove Sporting 23
Sean Brain Bromsgrove Sporting 22
Amarvir Sandhu Leicester Road 21
Daniel Scragg Heath Hayes 21
In the final game of the season, Feckenham and Barnt Green Spartak shared 10 goals in a 5-5 draw at The Entaco. Danny Williams scored a hat-trick for Feckenham who came back from 4-1 down to grab the point which means they finish the season in 12th place. Nikinder Uppal scored twice for Spartak.
Chris Lloyd Chelmsley Town 51
James Lemon Droitwich Spa 44
Mark Bellingham Paget Rangers 36
Dildale Linton Alvis Sporting Club 32
Daniel Carter Paget Rangers 28
Tom Craine Knowle, Hampton 26
Thomas Maguire Alvis Sporting Club 21
Shane Brassington Alvis Sporting Club 21
The final game in Division 3 saw Alcester Town win 2-1 at Burntwood Town courtesy of a Matt Layton double. The result means Alcester finish in 5th place.
Peter Martin Barton United 38
Matt Layton Alcester Town 37
Jak Albutt Redditch Borough 36
Jason Cowley Redditch Borough 26
Ashley Wilkes FC Stratford 24
Luke Swinnerton Leamington Hibernian 20
Jay Tilbury FC Stratford 20
Littleton lifted the Worcester Royal Infirmary Cup with a 1-0 win against Malvern Town, Chris Conway with the goal. In the quarter-finals of the JW Hunt Cup, Lichfield City beat Wolverhampton Casuals 2-1 at Brinsford Lane to progress to a semi-final meeting next Wednesday with Wolverhampton Sporting. Tyron Smith scored both goals for City. In the other quarter-final played on Saturday, a Jordan Nadat goal was enough for Alvechurch to beat Heath Hayes at Newlands Lane. The prize for Alvechurch is a semi-final next Thursday against Sporting Khalsa. Both semi-finals take place at AFC Wulfrunians.
Lichfield City won the first semi-final beating Wolverhampton Sporting Community 3-0 with goals from Martin Crawford, Tyrone Smith and Trea Bertie.
Christopher Gumery Coleshill Town 26
Lukas Putka Brocton 20
Liam Arrowsmith Lichfield City 17
George Teeney Rocester 16
Che O’Connor Continental Star 14
Oliver Roome Rocester 14
Bedworth 1 Tamworth 3 (Bowl Final)
Anstey Nomads 0 Tamworth 4 (U21N)
Bedworth 2 Tamworth 1 After Extra-Time (Play-Off Final)
Andrew Hudson Stourport Swifts 18
Nathan McGarrity Bedworth United 14
Janabi Amour Bedworth United 12
Nathan Cadby Bedworth United 8
Ryan Sappleton-Williams Walsall Wood 19
Regan Smith Heath Hayes 12
Harry Wakefield Basford United 12
Romario Reid Sutton Coldfield Town 12
Luke Dealney Tamworth 9
George Dixon Tamworth 8
Mason Lopez Anstey Nomads 8
FA Vase Final
On Sunday, Hereford travel to Wembley to face Morpeth Town in the FA Vase final. Over 19,000 Bulls fans will make their way to the arch for a dream ending to a remarkable season. By way of a preview here is the respective routes to the final.
The Highwaymen began their campaign in September in the 1st Qualifying round with a home tie against NWCL Padiham. Goals from Daniel Taggart, Sean Taylor, Michael Chilton and Keith Graydon gave Morpeth a 4-1 victory.
In the 2nd qualifying round, Morpeth had to travel to fellow Northern League side, Billingham Synthonia. A goal 5 minutes from time from Michael Chilton sent Morpeth through.
In the 1st round proper, Morpeth were involved in a classic at NWCL West Didsbury & Chorlton. This is the report from the West Didsbury & Chorlton website. Wembley will wait another year for West as they lost a nine-goal thriller with virtually the last kick of the game. West welcomed a Morpeth Town side to Brookburn Road who’d arrived fresh from a Friday night hotel stay in Stockport and were top of the Northern League after a 5-3 thrashing of Whitley Bay in mid-week, witnessed by manager Steve Settle. The visitors started the brighter of the two teams and West goalkeeper Hayden Buckley-Smith was called into action after just five minutes as he tipped a long range free kick over the bar. On 6 minutes West responded with their first chance of the game as Ben Steer burst down the right, pulled back a low cross to the waiting Ash Woods but his shot was easily held by the Morpeth goalkeeper. The game’s first goal came on 8 minutes as James Novak raced down the left and his cross into the box sailed over the head of Buckley-Smith and crept inside the far post to give the visitors the lead. Morpeth almost made it 2-0 five minutes later when a corner reached Chiles unmarked at the near post and he crashed his header off the top of the crossbar. On 16 minutes Morpeth added their second as a long free kick was launched to the far post, headed down and kneed home by the waiting Jordan Fry inside the six-yard box. West responded with chances of their own but a Scott Mason effort from 20 yards and a Lewis Schofield free kick from 25 yards out failed to force the Morpeth goalkeeper into a save. On 25 minutes it was 3-0 as a free kick was awarded inside the Morpeth half. The initial free kick was rocketed into the hand of Woods who despite having his back turned to the ball was adjudged to have deliberately handled it moving the free kick inside the West half. The second free kick was launched to the far post and headed home by Christopher Smailes off the underside of the crossbar to give the Northern League leaders a commanding lead. West still continued to create chances as Schofield hit the top of the crossbar directly from a corner and should have had a penalty on 32 minutes when the Morpeth keeper pushed a Nic Evangelinos cross into the path of Woods who was hauled to the ground as he tried to shoot but the referee would only award a corner as the Morpeth goalkeeper pushed it around the post. From the corner, the cross reached the far post, it was knocked down to Steer whose flicked shot deflected onto the outside of the foot of the post. Morpeth continued to be dangerous on the break and a superb
Callum Jones tackle on 34 minutes prevented a certain fourth when the Morpeth winger was through one-on-one. However West couldn’t prevent a fourth and from the corner it was again knocked down into the six-yard box and after a scramble, it was fired home by Chilton. Yet, West still continued to create and forced the Morpeth goalkeeper Niall Harrison into a brilliant save as Kay played a first time pass out wide to Steer whose cross found Woods waiting in the middle but could only see his diving header brilliantly blocked before Evangelinos was chopped down from behind as he attempted to finish the rebound. Sadly they couldn’t find the breakthrough before half-time despite further chances from Woods, Steer and Jones. In one of the strangest turnarounds in football, West came flying out of the blocks in the second half as they created a huge chance three minutes after the re-start as Woods skinned his man down the left pulled the ball back to Kay whose goal-bound shot was desperately blocked by a diving defender. West didn’t relent and two minutes later forced Harrison into another save as he could only palm away Woods shot. On 58 minutes Settle made a double change has he introduced Ricky Gleave and the returning Adam Hilton from Runcorn Linnets in place of Scott Mason and Ben Steer. It had almost an immediate impact as West struck back with a set piece of their own on 61 minutes when a Schofield free kicked was whipped into the penalty area and headed home by Kay with only the slightest flick on. Four minutes later the deficit was reduced again as Kay flicked on a long ball to Ash Woods who coolly rounded the keeper and slotted home. On 70 minutes an unlikely comeback took a step closer as Matty Kay scored a brilliant individual goal racing onto a pass inside the penalty area, turning his man on the goal line and firing in at the far post from the most narrowest of angles. Suddenly West were back in the game and hunting for a fourth and almost found it on 77 minutes when a cross to the far post found Evangelinos, his first touch took his marker out of the game but again Harrison made a world class save palming away a strong shot from almost point blank range. West continued to press as Morpeth resorted to launching it long into the West half. The comeback was complete in the first minute of stoppage time as Ricky Gleave played a one-two with Evangelinos, beat his man before nutmegging the second, dragged the ball past the third man, raced past a fourth and placed his shot coolly under the Morpeth keeper as the home bench and supporters went delirious. Suddenly the game became end-to-end as with extra time approaching both sides wanted a winner however it was the visitors who found it in the 95th minute as a cross from the right just evaded Schofield and Chilton brilliantly outjumped Eckersley at the far post and headed into the far corner to send Morpeth’s bench into raptures. There was almost no time to respond as the referee who’d awarded five additional minutes despite few stoppages alerted the players that there was just three seconds remaining and blew up as West re-started. Despite the heart-breaking nature of the loss, West supporters remained to clap their players off the pitch in recognition of a performance of heart and desire against a team ranked amongst the favourites to win the entire competition.
In the 2nd round, Morpeth were drawn at home to 1874 Northwich. The game was postponed on the Saturday and re-arranged for the Wednesday evening at which point 1874 Northwich withdrew from the competition. This was their statement:-
As many of you will know we have had great difficulties as a Football Club trying our very best to find an amicable solution to the extreme problems caused by the unfortunate postponement of our FA Vase game last Saturday at Morpeth. Prior to the game, we had agreed that, should the scores be level after 90 minutes and a subsequent 15 minutes each way period of extra time, the replay would have taken place in Mid Cheshire this evening. On Saturday our Football Secretary spent a considerable amount of time trying to make arrangements with Morpeth for the game to be played on a suitable alternative date. Discussions took place with her counterpart at Morpeth Town FC and he agreed to put our suggestion/proposal for the game to be rescheduled for Saturday 28th November to his committee. Unfortunately, we were later advised that the Morpeth Town committee had made a democratic decision NOT to agree to play the game this Saturday. Obviously, this came as a big disappointment to 1874 especially because whilst we could play the game next Saturday we have been unable to raise a team to play the game tomorrow. All of our players have full-time jobs and getting time off, especially at short notice, has proved difficult and in fact, only six of our available playing squad would be able to travel to this game tomorrow. Our secretary has been in regular contact with the FA and our Chairman Paul Stockton has e-mailed and spoken with an FA representative but alas they are not prepared to change things Therefore, and most regrettably, we have to advise that we are unable to fulfil this important fixture and therefore in all probability our opponents will receive a "walkover" into the next round.
Morpeth were therefore in the 3rd round and faced more Northern League opposition in South Shields. A topsy-turvy gave finished 3-2 after extra-time with Morpeth’s goals coming from Mateusz Halambiec 2 and Michael Chilton. A penalty shoot-out ensued with Morpeth progressing 10-9!
After seeing off South Shields, North Shields were the opponents in Round 4. Second half goals from Sean Taylor and Lee McAndrew gave the Highwaymen a 2-0 victory.
The fifth round saw Morpeth make the long journey to Berkhamsted of the Spartan South Midlands League. Morpeth went through with a 2-1 victory. Attached is the match report from the Berkhamsted FC website. Goals from Luke Carr and Michael Chilton were enough to send the Highwaymen through, despite Tom Carter’s early goal for the home side. It was a match full of blood and thunder, the sort of tie the FA Cup could do with to keep the spirit of that venerable tournament alive, and in blustery conditions in front of Berko’s best crowd of the season, it had all the makings of a classic.
What eventually unfolded on the pitch certainly made for some entertaining viewing and the Broadwater crowd were in full voice to cheer on their boys. The atmosphere seemed to transfer to the players who made an excellent start, just getting the better of the opening exchanges and carving out the first real opportunity when Lewis Rodrigoe’s header flashed just wide from Dan Weeks’ pinpoint free kick. It all seemed to be going the Comrades way when Tom Carter rose highest to meet Alex Campana’s corner and sent a towering header past Karl Dryden to put the home side 1 – 0 up inside the first 15 minutes. The celebrations showed just how much this game meant and what followed was a sustained period of pressure, Berkhamsted’s high energy and pressing keeping Morpeth from finding a foothold in the game. As the half wore on the visitors began to grow in strength and started to show the kind of attacking threat that saw then knock out last year’s Vase winners North Shields in the previous round. Dale Sears had to be on hand to stop Luke Carr’s shot with a last ditch tackle and Chris Swailes sent a glancing header just over the bar from a corner. Berkhamsted looked like they were going to survive until half time however just before the half time whistle referee Mr Yianni blew up for a foul just outside the Comrades box. Captain Keith Graydon stepped up to take, fired a powerful shot directly into the wall and from there the referee pointed to the spot, claiming handball. Protests exploded but nothing was going to sway the mind of the officials and Luke Carr duly slotted home from the spot to make it 1 -1. No sooner had the game restarted than the whistle blew for half time. The slamming of the dressing room door as the players disappeared down the tunnel telling you all you need to know about how Berkhamsted felt about this turn of events. The game was still there for the taking, however, but now the visitors had a foothold in the match and it was one they were not going to let go of lightly. Berkhamsted brought on the more potent goal threat of Bradley O’Donovan however he received little service as Morpeth controlled the game and dictated the pace, Graydon pulling the strings with a dynamic performance in midfield. The winning goal was one of little quality and one that reflected the scrappier nature of the second half, Michael Chilton popping up to tap the ball home from a corner. Berkhamsted continued to press and probe, growing into the game as the half wore on however their task was made all the harder when Dan Edwards was sent off for a second bookable offence thanks to a reckless challenge on Graydon. Morpeth too continued to be a threat, Sean Taylor tormenting the home defence with his quick feet and pacey runs down the wing. There was drama saved for the final minutes as the Comrades mounted some serious pressure. O’Donovan putting the ball inches over after he found himself in space, receiving the ball as a result of some excellent work by Frankie Jowle. The most dramatic moment of the match was saved for the final seconds. Alex Campana sent in a teasing ball from a corner, captain Jim Baldry leapt clear of the
stranded Morpeth defenders sending a powerful header towards the goal only to see it agonisingly hit the underside of the crossbar and fail to go over the line. That was that the final whistle blew and the Berkhamsted players lay distraught on the ground. Ultimately it had been a heroic effort and one that arguably deserved more. The cup dream may be over for now but the efforts of those players to get there in the first place will certainly not be forgotten in a hurry. As for Morpeth, the Highwaymen march on to the Quarter Finals and the sight of the national stadium comes ever closer
The quarter-final draw gave Morpeth a home tie with Bristol Manor Farm from the Toolstation Western League. Goals from Chris Swailes and Dale Pearson gave the Highwaymen a 2-0 victory and a place in the semi-final.
The semi-final draw pitted Morpeth against Bowers and Pitsea FC from the Essex Senior League. The first leg took place at Concord Rangers and Morpeth raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Sean Taylor and Michael Chilton. The Essex side came back and goals in the 69th and 88th minutes meant that it was all square into the second leg. Sean Taylor gave Morpeth the lead but the Essex side again levelled matters. A goal late on from Luke Carr sent the Highwaymen to Wembley.
Hereford entered the competition in the 2nd qualifying round with a trip to fellow MFL side Bardon Hill. A penalty from John Mills was all that separated the sides but it was enough to send the Bulls through to the 1st Round Proper.
A fellow MFL Premier Division side stood in their way with a trip to Staffordshire to face Rocester. Jamie Willetts and John Mills were on target for the Bulls and a 2-0 victory sent them through to the 2nd round.
In Round 2, Hereford were drawn at home to WMRL Haughmond and a crowd of 2,170 saw Hereford continue their march to Wembley with a 4-1 victory. Match report from the Hereford FC website.
Hereford continued their fine form of late by beating Haughmond 4-1 in front of another remarkable Edgar Street crowd.
Goals from Rob Purdie, John Mills, Pablo Haysham and Mike Symons sealed the win and saw the hosts safely through to the next round.
Hereford were looking to extend their remarkable 18 game winning run and build momentum towards a potential trip to Wembley. Haughmond dominated possession early on and took advantage of a slip from Rob Purdie although a succession of corners came to nothing. However, their early dominance wasn’t to last long as the Bulls took the lead in the 7th minute. Joel Edwards broke through the middle and played through Mills before being fouled. With the referee playing advantage, Mills continued the break down the left flank before finding Purdie who finished calmly beyond Sam Jones. The game turned scrappy with both sides struggling giving the ball away cheaply as well as failing to create anything the way of goal scoring opportunities.
Despite being behind, the visitors continued to press well as they searched for a leveller. However, Hereford defended resiliently and countered well to get a second in the 30th minute. Mills beat two men with a neat exchange before firing beyond Jones to double the host’s advantage. Haughmond fashioned their first real chance 37 minutes in but Steve Hole fired well wide of the goal. The hosts could have had a third on the stroke of half-time. Mills, once again in the action, found Haysham in space but his effort went narrowly off the inside post.
The Bulls started the second half brilliantly and scored a third just a minute into it. Edwards broke well again down the left and his cross was met superbly by Haysham to make it 3-0. However despite the start, Haughmond got a goal back almost immediately, through a neat counter attack following a spell of Hereford possession. Dave Howarth scored beyond Rivers after the Bulls defence was left exposed at the back. The goal gave the visitors confidence and they looked much the better side as the Bulls switched off. Hereford improved after a nervous period and got a fourth in the 72nd minute through Mike Symons to re-build the three-goal cushion.
The fourth goal settled the nerves again and the Bulls looked far more comfortable in possession with Mills going close to making it five. With the game all but won, Hereford closed the game out comfortably for a 19th straight win.
The MFL Premier Division again provided the opposition in Round 3 with Brocton visiting Edgar Street. Hereford were pushed all the way as they ran out 2-0 winners. The report again from the Hereford FC website.
Hereford’s Wembley dream was kept alive last night with a resilient 2-0 victory over Brocton in the FA Vase clash at Edgar Street.
Goals from Mustapha Bundu and Joel Edwards were enough to seal the win although it could have been more had it not been for the brilliance of Brocton keeper, Calum Barrett.
Manager, Peter Beadle handed a debut to new signing, Martin Horsell as the Bulls looked for a 22nd straight win. The hosts started the more threatening of the two sides with John Mills seeing an early effort fly blaze well over the bar. Hereford continued to dominate the early proceedings and Joe Tumelty saw a decent effort saved by Calum Barrett following a decent break from Mills down the left flank. Barrett then had to save well minutes later to deny a decent Mills header. The hosts had another chance from the resulting corner but Jimmy Oates couldn’t direct his headed effort on target.
The visitors continued to frustrate the Bulls but the hosts finally got the breakthrough in the 27th minute. Mustapha Bundu, who has continued to look impressive with each game, fired a strong header from a Rob Purdie corner beyond Barrett in to give Hereford the lead. Brockton responded but struggled to find a way past a strong Hereford back four with Jamie Willetts and Ryan Green imposing themselves well in defence. However, they did hit the post through David Berks in a rare sight of goal. The visitors had another good chance to level matters towards the end of the first half. Gary Fife directed a decent effort from a David Berks free kick towards goal but new signing Horsell was equal to it and pulled off a fine save to keep the Bulls ahead.
Hereford started the second half very much like the first and could have doubled their lead. Mills, however, dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post. Joe Tumelty then broke well in midfield and set up the impressive Bundu who blasted his shot just over in another good chance for the Bulls. Hereford continued to press with Pablo Haysham unlucky not find himself on the scoresheet with a fantastic albeit deflected 25yrd shot which ended up clipping the left-hand post. Left back, Joel Edwards saw a dipping volley saved well by Barrett shortly after with the Bulls desperate to clinch a second goal that would kill the game off. Barretts heroics once again denied the Bulls with a brilliant save preventing Mike Symons from firing in. The Bulls pressure finally told when they were awarded a penalty. Matthew Dockerty brought down Symons. Barrett saved John Mills’ penalty but Edwards fired in the rebound to double the hosts lead. With the game all but won, the game petered out and the hosts can look forward to the next round as their FA Vase journey continues.
The 4th Round saw Hereford paired with Leicester Nirvana, the United Counties League leaders. The first attempt to get the game played ended in an abandonment after incessant rain (Nirvana leading 3-2 at the time). The following Saturday, there were no such problems and the Bulls made no mistake in front of another bumper Edgar Street crowd. Goals from John Mills (2), Mike Symons (2), Aaron Burch and Ross Staley gave Hereford a 6-0 victory.
Hartley Wintney of the Combined Counties League were the fifth round opponents and a tough away fixture was expected against a side with a comparative record. Goals from Mustapha Bundu (2), Mike Symons and Joe Tumelty gave Hereford a 4-1 victory. Report courtesy of Hartley Wintney FC website
And so another great cup run comes to an end. Bitterly disappointed but, in my opinion at least, we shouldn't have any regrets that we went out and didn't perform on the day. Others have suggested we didn't play quite at our best and allowed Hereford to dominate us, but for me, it was simply that, on the day, Hereford were just too good for us and didn't let us get any kind of foothold. Their tempo, short passing accuracy even on our less than perfect surface because of recent weather, and immediate closing down whenever and wherever we received the ball, had all the hallmarks of a team that could be playing at least two levels above us. I didn't get the chance to ask any of the players but I would imagine they'd agree Hereford were tougher to play against than Eastbourne Borough from Conference South, who we played earlier this season in the FA Cup - we certainly seemed to have less time on the ball, less space to work into (though Eastbourne's pitch was bigger of course) and were closed down much faster. Hereford's tempo and closing down caused us to make mistakes - yes we made mistakes but they weren't unenforced errors, it was the result of tremendous and relentless pressing. Hereford's 7, who played on the left, Mustapha Bundu, was too much for us to handle, one of several Hereford players clearly playing well below his level, and the opening goal from him was an ominous sign of what was to come. But at just 1 down we were very much still in the game as the 2nd half started. But two quick goals and we were no longer in it as a contest. Ross Cook won and converted the penalty very neatly to put something on the board. Both teams were later reduced to 10 men following a 'coming together' between Ross Cook and Hereford's Ryan Green, Green getting a straight red card and Cook a second yellow. Apart from that, it was a game played in a competitive but good spirit, and the officials showed they were also a step up in ability to what we often encounter in the league. I don't know if that was as good as Hereford can play but they were very good and we barely got a look in. Full marks to the boys for competing with them till the end - the very late 4th goal was unkind to us but brilliantly worked and very well finished. Into the quarter-final for the Bulls and a home tie with another Combined Counties side, Camberley Town. Camberley certainly gave Hereford something to think about and they needed extra time to make it through, the goals coming from Mustapha Bundu, Mike Symons, and John Mills. The semi-final draw put the two ‘reborn’ clubs in direct opposition, Steve Claridge’s Salisbury, the runaway leaders of the Wessex League being the opposition. Over 4,500 crammed into Edgar Street for the first leg with a solitary goal from Mustapha Bundu gave the Bulls a narrow lead into the second leg. Match report from Salisbury FC website A record Hereford FC home crowd of 4,683 witnessed a narrow win for the Bulls that leaves the tie nicely poised for the "second half" at the Ray Mac on Saturday 19th, and it will be another great occasion in the history of both clubs. The home side may rue their luck, however, as their efforts to take a greater lead to Wiltshire faltered against a resolute defence, and not least because of important interventions by the woodwork. The first half belonged to Hereford in terms of possession, but this was only to be expected as the onus is firmly on the home side in a two-legged affair. In spite of all that possession they were restricted to a handful of chances, and after a "goal" was rightly disallowed for handball, they had to wait until the second half before getting the important lead.
On four minutes the first threat of the match came when Rob Purdie crossed for Ross Staley to head wide, but seconds later at the other end, Dan Demkiv's cross found Sam Wilson whose header went straight at keeper Martin Horsell. The Whites had to re-group after only seven minutes as Calum Brockway, after a long injury absence, suffered a recurrence of his dislocated right shoulder in a challenge and was stretchered off, being replaced by Elliott Wheeler. Calum was later able to travel home with the squad but both the player himself and manager Steve Claridge confirmed that he will need an operation to repair the damage. On 13 minutes Charlie Searle saw his first serious action, saving the tricky Pablo Haysham's effort well, low to his right, and it was not until five minutes before the break that Hereford had another effort. They thought they had scored when Haysham beat Searle to a cross and netted, but after a mass protest, Football League referee Stephen Martin, who seemed to have given a goal, consulted his assistant and the "goal" was ruled out for deliberate handball, with Haysham picking up a yellow card for his trouble. So, after a fairly dull first half, but satisfying for the Whites with the scores level, it took only four minutes for the Bulls to register. A curling cross from Jimmy Oates from the right found the increasingly dangerous Mustapha Bundu at the far post and his header gave Searle little chance. Was this to be the opening of the floodgates, and the start of the end of Salisbury's Vase aspirations? The answer was provided by an instantaneous reaction as the Whites flickered to life, Horsell doing well to keep out a Tom Whelan 20 yard effort on 50 minutes, and then watching as a further Whelan potshot went wide two minutes later. Not to be outdone, the Bulls reacted and on 56 minutes a clearance rolled out to Aaron Birch, whose first strike was blocked, but whose follow-up was skewed wide of the mark. On the hour, a magical cross from Bundu found Staley who was unlucky to see his finish cannon off the underside of the bar, with his second attempt hitting the post. On 62 minutes the woodwork came to Salisbury's rescue once more, Bundu's header hitting the top of the bar from a corner, but that was again the sign for the visitors to hit back, and from then on in, apart from a wild Bundu free kick, they looked the better side and might well have grabbed an equaliser. A Whelan corner was played by Wheeler across goal to Danny Young who could not direct his finish, and on 64 minutes a long George Colson throw found Steve Walker in the box, with the tall defender's attempted volley being easily saved by the keeper. On 77 minutes Sam Wilson managed to wriggle clear of two defenders before squaring to Kane O'Keefe on the edge of the box. Unfortunately, O'Keefe could not keep his shot down today when he could normally be relied upon to hit the net. With eight minutes of normal time remaining, the important equaliser didn't happen only because of a world class stop from Horsell. Again Whelan started off the move with Walker getting into a
striker's position at the far post, only to see his firm header, bound for the top corner, somehow clawed away by Horsell with what was, by far, the best save of the match by either keeper. The game, plus three minutes of time added, saw Salisbury fairly comfortable in seeing the game out, and thus a good result was earned at the end of only the first half of the tie. The Whites never reached the high tempo performance heights we are used to seeing but these were different calibre opponents to anything they have encountered this season. To keep a single-goal deficit is, therefore, a notable performance, and if the Whites can produce a better showing at home, with the high tempo returning against an experienced side, then we are in for a great game. Both sets of supporters gave their teams tremendous vocal support in a great atmosphere - almost 600 from Salisbury in attendance - and the right result is possible if Salisbury fans turn the tables by giving their favourites the same level, having the numerical advantage at home. Naturally there were differing reactions from the managers after the game. Hereford's Peter Beadle: "We've had four wins on the bounce now, and perhaps, more importantly, we've kept four clean sheets. We've got our noses in front at half-time in the tie but made some poor decisions as a team in the second half. It became a bit 50/50, but we still had the better chances. We weren't quite at it, though, and when the game became a bit more frantic, at only 1-0 up the players were maybe feeling the pressure a bit. I'll forgive them that, but we didn't deal with it and that will not be acceptable next week as we will come under pressure at some time. We got away with it and Martin (Horsell) did exactly what we wanted when called upon." Steve Claridge's view: "It could have been worse, it could have been better, but aside from a 10/15 minute spell when they probably could have been out of sight, we've matched them, and at the end to be fair had great chances to get it back to one all. I'm not quite sure how I feel, but it was probably a fair result. I didn't ever think it was going to be over here, and it's not. It's now all about having the belief to go on and win it at our place. I'll take today's result, and on the day, I think that their better players played better than our better players. We'll look to improve our performance, and have a little look to see what risks we have to take to do that." The second leg saw a crowd just under 3,500 at the Ray Mac and the home side took an early lead to level matters. Hereford were not to be denied their place at Wembley and goals from Mike Symons and Joe Tumelty gave them victory on the day and on aggregate. The match report comes from the Salisbury FC website In a tie of four halves, Hereford FC won nearly three of them and deservedly go to the final at Wembley on 22 May. Whites can hold their heads up high, however, as the appreciative reaction of a Ray Mac Stadium record attendance testified at the final whistle. After coming away from the first leg just one goal behind, Salisbury hopes were high of turning round the tie at home, and indeed after 40 minutes or so that looked on the cards, as, not only was there a one-goal advantage, but as we all know, usually we can look forward to a sparkling show in second periods playing towards the PB Asher stand. The sparkle, for some unknown reason, deserted Salisbury, and the visitors used their greater experience to take full advantage.
I recorded just one Hereford first half chance, just like at Edgar Street, whilst the Whites produced several, largely due to their accustomed high tempo approach, and on 9 minutes the first of these arrived when a Tom Whelan corner gave Elliot Wheeler a headed chance in front of goal, but Wheeler put the ball disappointingly wide when he was well placed. Another Whelan contribution, this time, a free kick, caused panic in the Bulls’ defence, and the ball broke to Steve Walker who turned and sent his effort like a seasoned striker across keeper Martin Horsell into the corner on 18 minutes, to send Whites’ supporters wild. Two minutes later a half chance fell to Whelan but he hurried his shot, which flew well wide of the mark, and the midfielder then set up Sam Wilson on 24 minutes with another free kick but the striker headed over. The visitors were visibly rattled, but the Whites paid the penalty for wasted chances and not ramming home their advantage when Hereford levelled on 42 minutes. A deflected cross found Mike Symons, who had the simplest of chances volleying home from a couple of yards. Conceding a goal, especially against the run of play, is never good at any time, and certainly not so shortly before the interval, but there was hope that if the tempo was maintained then surely we would be Wembley bound. That was a big “if”, as it was Hereford who came out of the blocks very quickly and some of the home side appeared to be still in the dressing room. Suddenly, the talented Mustapha Bundu got more into the game, having only occasionally flickered in the first half, and on 46 minutes his cross gave Pablo Haysham a presentable chance, but a deflection took the ball to safety. Four minutes later Bundu was clean through on goal but was foiled in a one-on–one when Charlie Searle rushed from his line to block, for the first act of a superb second half for the keeper. Hereford were looking much the stronger side, partly because for an inexplicable reason, the Whites were falling apart and getting sloppy with the ball in the process. All the direction and pattern of the first half went out of the window, and the ball saw too much altitude - which provided meat and drink for the visitors’ defence. Bundu was allowed to cut in but mercifully ballooned his 25 yarder, and it could have been game over as early as 66 minutes when Whelan impeded Haysham in the box for a clear penalty, but Searle came to the rescue with a save from Bundu very similar to the one he pulled off at Nuneaton Griff. For some teams, that would have been enough of a turning point to ignite a response, but not the Whites, just for once, on this important occasion. It was not until the 78th minute that Salisbury again looked at all threatening when a Whelan corner eventually found its way to Wilson at the far post, who should have done much better than hit the side netting from five yards under little pressure. That, instead, was the end of the tie for the Whites, and heads dropped. Those heads hit the floor on 79 minutes when Bundu played his last part in the game, setting up Joe Tumelty for a clinical finish for 2-1, which was almost his first touch after coming on.
On 88 minutes the woodwork prevented a third goal after Rob Purdie shot from 18 yards, but it was Searle who had the last word blocking out man mountain Symons in a one-on-one, something which defenders had been unable to do for much of the game. I don’t think I have previously seen Salisbury fall apart this season as badly as they did here, though it has to be said they were up against the best side they have faced this season. As in the first game at Hereford, the occasion seemed to get to some of them. There were also some who left something on the pitch, and I am sure that, firstly, Steve Claridge will have had something to say about that, and secondly that we won’t see it happen again. As for Hereford, well, over the two games they showed greater experience, and I am sure that fair-minded supporters would agree that they deserved their success. A very small consolation is that we have gone out to the favourites, and will probably have done so to the Vase winners. I am sure we all wish them well
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