A SPARKLING second-half display earned Hereford a convincing 3-0 win in their Coca-Cola Cup first round first leg match at Edgar Street on Tuesday.

Their first-half performance gave no indication of what was to come and it would have been no surprise if the visitors, who carved out the best opportunities before the break, had gone in front. Hereford director of football, Graham Turner was clearly delighted with the result.

''This should give the team some confidence for the games ahead,'' he said. The catalyst for United's dramatic improvement was substitute Chris Hargreaves, whose appearance in the 66th minute heralded a burst of three goals in 12 minutes. Just three minutes after he came on to replace Ian Foster, Hargreaves got to the bye-line and pulled the ball back for skipper David Norton to open his account for the club from close range. Ten minutes later Quentin Townsend, who had an impressive game in the centre of the United defence, hoofed the ball upfield where it was seized upon by Adrian Foster and the former Gillingham striker flashed a right-foot shot past Scott Barrett from 20 yards.

To complete the goal spree, on 81 minutes Hargreaves was brought down on the edge of the area and Gavin Mahon's accurate free-kick was headed in by the unchallenged Dean Smith. In the first half United keeper Andy Debont was forced to make a fine diving save, low to his left, to keep out a header from Paul Raynor at the expense of a corner after nine minutes, and Neil Wanless, Jamie Barnwell Edinboro and Matthew Joseph also went close with a header, a long range shot and a free-kick respectively. Hereford might have been awarded a penalty when both Ian and Adrian Foster seemed to be impeded when challenging for a Keith Downing free-kick but generally the first-half corner count of 5-1 in favour of Cambridge reflected the balance of the play.

After the interval it was a completely different story with Adrian Foster forcing a fine save from Barrett with a header following a Murray Fishlock free-kick and Jamie Pitman heading against the bar after a Fishlock corner, in addition to the three goals scored. The only irritation in this, United's first home win in the Coca-Cola Cup for five seasons, was a late booking for Dean Smith for a challenge from behind. Hereford will travel to Cambridge's Abbey Stadium in two weeks time confident of gaining the overall victory which could lead to a plum tie against Premiership opposition in the second round.

Hereford: Debont, Norton, Fishlock, Smith, Brough, Townsend, Pitman (sub Stoker, 85 mins), Downing, A. Foster, I. Foster (Hargreaves, 66 mins), Mahon. Sub not used: MacKenzie.

Attendance: 1,982.