MATT Gardiner says the Halesowen Town factor was the main reason for him joining Hereford United.

The 25-year-old defender has joined no fewer than four of his former Halesowen team-mates at Edgar Street - defender Matt Clarke, midfielder John Snape and strikers Rob Elmes and Steve Piearce.

The connection continues further, with Gardiner training part-time alongside Snape and Elmes at Oldbury during the week and then meeting up with his team-mates on match-days.

He said: "It definitely helps you settle down when you're familiar with so many people. I heard good reports about the lads from last season. I got on really well with them at Halesowen and that made the decision to come here a lot easier."

Gardiner has had to wait for his chance in the starting line-up following the Bulls' impressive start to the Nationwide Conference season, but is prepared to bide his time.

He sees joining Hereford as a platform to returning to League football, having started his career with Torquay United and made a handful of first-team appearances.

On his return to the Midlands, he had spells with Moor Green and Stourbridge before joining Halesowen, where he spent three seasons.

But he said: "When you get a chance to come to a club like Hereford, it is a chance to step back up again and if it comes, you have to take it.

"I have a chance to play and as long as I do my best, you can't do any more than that. It is up to me to impress the gaffer."

He thinks they can continue their impressive start and challenge for the Nationwide Conference title.

"They had a good cup run last year and didn't do too badly in the league, and there are some good young players coming through. There is no reason why we can't challenge again."