HEREFORDSHIRE paced their response expertly to notch a three-wicket win over a young Gloucestershire side at Eastnor on Sunday. After the visitors had posted 197-8 from their 50 overs in cool but dry conditions, the home side reached their target with three wickets and an over in hand. Herefordshire made an excellent start when newcomer Chris Steele (1-26), the Kidderminster paceman, had opener Max Trotman caught behind by Ian Bullock in his first over. But then Ollie Meadows (54) and O Price (55) laid the foundations for what appeared to be an imposing total with a century stand for the second wicket. While survival was comfortable on a slow-paced pitch, it was never easy to force the pace and when the visitors tried to increase the run-rate, wickets began to fall regularly, particularly to the slower bowlers. Mahaaz Ahmed (2-22) snared two victims in his first over while Syed Bukhari picked up 3-38 from 10 overs as the visitors stumbled to 197-8 at the end of their allotted 50 overs. With skipper Matt Pardoe unable to bat due to a back injury, Herefordshire’s innings got off to a less than convincing start. Ian Bullock (six) and Nick Hammond (13) went early and, with Zain Ul Hassan unable to reproduce the form which had brought him half-centuries in the previous two outings, Herefordshire had slipped to 56-3. But opener Mahaaz (61) was in control at the other end and he was joined by Shameer Ahmed who increased the scoring rate by striking three big sixes in his 33. The former Eastnor pair added 48 in quick time and Dave Ball (12) then helped Mahaaz to maintain the required rate. There was a stutter when Mahaaz was finally dismissed but, with some solid help from Luke Tulacz (nine), Tom Hage battered three fours and a six in his 33 not out to guide Herefordshire to victory with six balls to spare.