HEREFORD’S Head Coach Marc Richards admitted that his team were taught a ‘hard lesson’ against play-off hopefuls Brackley Town on Tuesday night.

The Bulls struggled to break down their visitors before Carl Baker put his side ahead with a long range effort after 18 minutes.

Brackley had a golden chance to double their lead after the break as a quick move resulted in James Armson beating the goalkeeper before Matt Lowe tripped on the ball with the goal at his mercy and Danny Greenslade cleared.

Lee Ndlovu was next to threaten the Bulls' goal after beating Jordan Cullinane-Liburd but saw his cross cleared off the line by substitute Louis Ezwele.

Matt Yates also kept the Bulls in the tie with a close range save to deny Armson.

Brackley eventually sealed the points in the 74th minute when an Ellis Myles cross was put into his own net by Jak Hickman

“I thought the best team won and they are top of the form guide for a reason, said Richards.

“They are very well drilled and efficient National League North team. It was a bit of a lesson for us today in terms of the levels of where we need to be at.

“I don’t think we played anywhere near to the capabilities of what we can and the performance levels of where we have been.

“It was a hard lesson tonight and a fair result. There was more positive signs in terms of our play at times but we just need to be more streetwise and better versed in being a National League North team competing hopefully at the top end of the table.

“Brackley have been doing that consistently for the last four or five years. They are just very good at what they do, they have got some good players and strength in depth.

“It was a bit of a tough test tonight. We’re always looking for better players and also looking to build a squad so we can compete at that top end of National League North. You saw a team today that we were playing against that has got that across the board and we need to make sure that’s the standards we’re aiming for to get where we need to be.

“Looking at where they were better than us was second balls all around the park. There always seemed to be two of them when there was one of us or they were always first to that second ball.

“We probably didn’t compete as well as we have done in previous games.

“A couple of our players have had a slightly under-par games at a similar time. If three or four of your players aren’t performing at the level they have been then it does affect your performance.

“It’s nothing to worry about.

Richards had to substitute captain Josh Gowling at half-time giving a debut to defender Louis Ezewele.

The Bulls will be hoping he returns for their trip to Spennymore Town on Saturday.

“Josh was feeling his hamstring early in the first half and managed to get through until half-time but we didn’t want to take any chances so made the substitution at half-time,” said Richards.

“We’re looking forward to it. Having a run of Brackley, Spennymore and Stockport is a tough ask with them all being in the top four.

“We will make sure our preparation is spot on and give it a good go on Saturday.”

The National League North transfer window closes on Thursday and when asked if any business would be done before the deadline. Richards replied: “Just wait and see.”

Hereford: Yates, Hickman, Greenslade, Wesolowski (Waite 57), Cullinane-Liburd, Gowling (Ezewele 45), O'Sullivan, Owen-Evans, Richards, Smith, Symons (Finn 72)

Subs: Wharton, , Roberts