Hereford were unable to profit from Mark Druce's sixth-minute strike as they slumped to their 11th Football Conference defeat of the season on Saturday.

Bulls director of football Graham Turner had commented before the game on Druce's sharpness in training during the week, expressing the hope that the former Oxford man might bring that form into Saturday's game.

The early indications were promising when Richard Leadbeater nodded down Chris Lane's free-kick and Druce rounded defender Lee Palmer to slide his shot past Charlie Mitten into the corner of the net.

After this, however, Druce's only real contribution to the proceedings was to pick up a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Palmer as the Hereford strike-force more or less disappeared from the game.

Leadbeater, who, along with Chris Lane, was also cautioned for a first-half foul, should have done better in the second period when he lost control of the ball after being put clear by skipper Ian Rodgerson. But by then the tide was flowing against Hereford.

The man who turned things around was substitute Matt Carruthers, who came on at half-time and made an immediate impact with his strong running.

Just six minutes into the half, a powerful run and cross set up Mark Hynes for the Dover equaliser and although Hereford staged a brief mini-revival, they once again failed to overcome the direct tactics which have so often been their downfall since returning to non-league football.

Tony James did well to block a powerful drive by Carruthers and then Andy Quy had to stretch to tip over a shot by Dave Clarke. But, with the Dover pressure mounting, it seemed only a matter of time before the home side went into the lead.

The decisive moment came after 84 minutes when Ricky Reina broke clear on the right and crossed for Jake Leberl to score from close range.

Leberl, who was sent off in the Conference game at Edgar Street last season, at least now has a happier memory of matches against Hereford.

In the dying seconds, with Hereford pushing forward in search of an equaliser, Carruthers and Reina, both looking suspiciously off-side, broke away and Reina added a third.

With just one point from the last six matches and a solitary Conference win since the end of Nove-mber, Hereford have slumped to 12th position in the table and a new attitude on the part of some of the players will be necessary to prevent the season from collapsing completely.

Hereford: Quy, Lane, Collins, Parry, James, Clarke, Druce, Taylor, (Williams 60), Leadbeater, (Cook 83), Rodgerson, Dennison. Sub not used: Evans.