STEVE Piearce, last season's top marksman in the Dr Martens League with 30 goals, got off the mark in the Nationwide Conference by scoring a 45th minute equaliser for Hereford United in their draw with Nuneaton Borough at Edgar Street on Tuesday.

Piearce gave the first indication why United director of football Graham Turner signed him on a three-year contract from Halesowen Town when he cancelled out Joe O'Connor's 33rd minute strike for Nuneaton.

Piearce's goal was the product of pace, strength and clinical finishing. He shrugged off a challenge from Wayne Simpson, which would have warranted a penalty, left him trailing in his wake and beat former Bulls' keeper Chris Mackenzie with a perfectly-placed ground shot.

He said: "I was pleased from a personal point of view to get off the mark. It was fast and furious out there and I just wish we had come away with the three points.

"Nuneaton had a good victory against Hayes last Saturday and have experience in all areas of their team. But we are still unbeaten going into our third game - a win on Saturday against Kettering will mean five points out of nine and a good start."

Turner acknowledged the strength of newly-promoted Nuneaton, saying: "They have brought in a lot of experienced players. They were always a threat in attack and Terry Angus marshalled their defence well. I thought it was a good, entertaining Conference game."

Turner was disappointed with the way United conceded a goal, however. Tony James was on the wrong side of Andy Ducros who robbed him of the ball. The former Coventry City striker left keeper Andy Quy helpless with a shot which hit an upright and rebounded across the goal. But, just as it seemed United had escaped, Ducros quickly regained possession and slipped a pass to O'Connor who scored from close range.

James redeemed himself to some extent when he made a timely tackle on O'Connor who had another goal in his sights as he surged into the penalty area. Nuneaton put the home defence, in which Paul Sturgess made an effective Conference debut at left-back, under plenty of pressure.

Although there was plenty of end-to-end play, however - the corner count was 11-9 in the Bulls' favour - neither MacKenzie or Quy were overworked.

MacKenzie made one fine save from a Gavin Williams' free-kick, while Quy tipped a header from Angus over the bar in fine style. Nevertheless, United were lucky in the 87th minute when Nuneaton broke away only for substitute Marvin Blake to miskick in front of an open goal.

Four Nuneaton players were booked as were Hereford's Mark Taylor, Williams and Ian Rodgerson.

HEREFORD: Quy, Clarke, Wright, James Sturgess, Rodgerson (Hanson 85 min), Taylor, Williams, May (Elmes 76 min) Piearce, Fewings (Snape 46 min).

Attendance: 2, 551