Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Hereford United crashed out of the FA Trophy at the third round stage last night after a suffering a 2-1 defeat in a hard-fought clash with holders and Conference leaders Yeovil Town at Edgar Street.

The Bulls paid a heavy price for making a slow start and, astonishingly, found themselves two goals down against the country's leading non-league side with just four minutes on the clock.

To their credit, the Bulls battled back strongly to reduce arrears through former Yeovil star Ben Smith on 20 minutes and they appeared to be denied a clear-cut penalty-kick in the dying seconds after Smith was felled inside the box by a lunging challenge from visiting striker Kirk Jackson.

And almost immediately before Smith had been sent tumbling to the ground, Chris Weale was called into action to pull off an outstanding reaction save to keep out a low shot from Steve Guinan.

In fact, Guinan's goal-bound strike was United's only on-target effort in a very poor second half - which bore no resemblance to an action-packed opening period.

Hereford boss Graham Turner said, after his side slipped to their first defeat in seven matches: "In the second half against a strong wind, we couldn't get behind Yeovil - it was a very comfortable 40 minutes for them."

He added: "But the lads are very upset at the penalty decision. If the incident had happened anywhere else on the field, the referee would have given a foul."

The Glovers opened the scoring after just 67 seconds when the Hereford defence failed to pick up Colin Pluck and he headed home a corner from former United midfielder Michael McIndoe.

Pluck then had a hand in the second goal soon afterwards, chipping the ball into the box for Kirk Jackson, whose shot clipped the outside of a post and was driven beyond Matt Baker by Adam Lockwood.

John Grant struck the crossbar in the 18th minute as Hereford clawed their way back into the match.

And the home side only had to wait for a further two minutes until they were on the score-sheet, Smith powerfully heading home a delightful right-wing cross from Danny Williams.

Spurred by the goal, Hereford then had the better of the half and, after Michael Rose's long-range thunderbolt was deflected wide, Weale tipped away Grant's neat flick.

Hereford: Baker 6, Teesdale 6, Rose 7, James 6, Tretton 6, Pitman 6, Smith 8, Grant 6 (Purdie 66, 6) Parry 5, Williams 6 (Husbands 73), Guinan 5. Subs (not used): Griffiths, Wright, Sawyers. Attendance: 2,425.