Hereford United's aerial vulnerability at set-pieces proved costly on Tuesday when they went down to Hull, unbeaten this season, in a Nationwide Football League Third Division match at Edgar Street.

Former WBA defender Tony Brien won the challenge for Neil Mann's corner in the 49th minute. He directed his header forward for Duane Darby to nod the ball out of keeper Andy DeBont's reach. It was the fourth goal of the season for the 22- year-old Darby, the ex Torquay United striker whom Hull manager Terry Dolan bought from Doncaster Rovers for £20,000 at the end of last season.

Certainly in the last 20 minutes the Bulls charged the Tigers' den relentlessly. But Hull, relegated from the Second Division last term, are a strong, well organised side and they gave little away. Gareth Stoker was not far off target after a Murray Fishlock corner had been partially cleared. Then, in injury time, skipper David Norton, who gave another accomplished performance, ventured up front for a Fishlock cross and screwed his shot narrowly wide.

United director of football Graham Turner said: ''We could be criticised for a lack of know-how but certainly not for effort. We didn't have the craft to be able to do something different but the crowd got behind us when we kept at them in the closing stages.

''Murray Fishlock got in a some good crosses but we couldn't get the ball into the net.'' United started brightly, making most of the early running, and Adrian Foster had a 20th-minute chance. Chris Hargreaves flicked on Gavin Mahon's pass to the striker, whose header flew wide. The Tigers came more into the game towards half-time without making much impression up front and the match had all the makings of a goalless draw.

Darby's 50th-minute strike upset that scenario and a few minutes later it took a goalline clearance by Norton to keep out another Darby header. In the 73rd minute a slick pass by substitute Richard Peacock sent Darby cutting through United's defence but DeBont parried his shot with a fine save. The keeper recovered his balance quickly to gather a second shot, this time from Mike Quigley.

It was then continuous action in Hull's half but, unlike the Tigers, Hereford did not have anyone with the height to cause them problems in the air.

Hereford: DeBont, Norton, Townsend, Smith, Brough, Fishlock, Stoker, Downing (Ian Foster 60 min), Mahon, Hargreaves, Adrian Foster. Subs not used: Pitman, Cook.

Attendance: 2,814.