Hereford prepared for their Coca-Cola Cup tie at Middlesbrough with a much improved performance at promotion-chasing Darlington, the club who beat them in the play-offs last season.

The mid-week horror show at Swansea was exorcised as Hereford created the better chances in both halves, only to be beaten by Darren Roberts' deflected shot on the stroke of half-time, a defeat that left Graham Turner's men at the foot of the table with five defeats from seven games.

Feetham's largest crowd of the season, 3,271, saw Robbie Blake given an early chance to give the North Easterners the lead but Andy DeBont got down well to block.

Ian Foster then broke down the right to pick out Adrian at the near post but his flick was comfortably held by Newell in the home goal. Adrian then returned the compliment by setting up Ian inside the box. But, with only Newell to beat, the striker fired wide. It proved to be the first of a trio of similar misses as the game progressed.

The Hereford defence had coped well with Darlington's limited forays until, with only seconds of the half remaining, Michael Oliver's cross was allowed to drop at the feet of Roberts whose close-range shot struck Dean Smith to give DeBont no chance.

The Bulls ought to have been back on level terms within the opening five minutes of the second period. Hargreaves' pass to Adrian Foster beat the off-side trap, only for Foster's shot to hit the legs of the advancing Newell.

Hargreaves was again the provider four minutes later when he freed Ian Foster, whose shot rebounded off Newell to Gareth Stoker. The striker's effort for once beat Newell but Mark Barnard was on hand to clear off the line.

Darlington then re-gained the initiative without threatening before Barnard again rescued the Quakers when he repeated his earlier goalline clearance to again deny the luckless Ian Foster on 72 minutes.

DeBont tipped over from Brumwell and then prevented an undeserved second Darlington goal eight minutes from time when he tipped substitute Robbie Painters' 20-yard shot onto the underside of the bar.

Hereford's overall play merited a point and it should have come after 83 minutes when the unmarked Wayne Sutton screwed a 10-yard shot wide with Newell caught out of place.

Hereford: DeBont, Norton, Fishlock, Smith, Brough, Sutton, Stokes, Hargreaves, A. Foster, I. Foster (Cook 71 mins), Mahon. Subs not used: Townsend, Downing.

Attendance: 3,271.