Hereford'S unbeaten run of five GM Vauxhall Conference games came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Rushden's impressive Nene Park stadium on Saturday.

With a further £6.5 million still to be spent on an already excellent facility, Diamonds have a ground to rival just about anything in the lower divisions of the Nationwide League. How Hereford could do with a benefactor like Max Griggs!

On the pitch, Brian Talbot has assembled a side which looked no more than competent, but, on the day, were good enough to secure the three points against a Hereford side which, once again, lacked punch in attack and failed to create more than a couple of decent openings. That said, it took yet another goalkeeping error to allow the home side through. Mark Gayle, who in three previous games had hardly had a shot to save, allowed Michael Mison's 20-yarder to spill from his grasp after 44 minutes and Darren Collins pounced to give Diamonds an interval lead they scarcely deserved on the balance of play.

Gayle did redeem himself somewhat in the second period when he did well to block another Collins effort and, in particular, to beat out an effort from Adrian Foster who then proceeded to blast the rebound wide when it was easier to score. The miss was greeted with howls of derision from the large band of Hereford supporters who had taken every opportunity to barrack last season's Edgar Street top-scorer.

Hereford's best effort in the first half had come after four minutes when on-loan Andy Milner made a good break down the right and pulled the ball back for skipper Ian Rodgerson, whose powerful right-foot shot was palmed away by Darren Watts in the home goal.

Watts was only seriously called upon once more and that was after 56 minutes when, following a half-cleared corner, Richard Walker pumped the ball back into the penalty area and John Brough got in a firm header which was safely held. ''This just tops off a depressing week,'' said United director of football, Graham Turner. ''We certainly had enough chances to win.''

Hereford: Gayle, Warner, Rodgerson, Pitman, Brough, Walker, Hargreaves, Milner, Cook (sub Foster 60 mins), Fishlock, Mahon. Subs not used: Matthewson, Jordan.

Attendance: 2,728.