SKIPPER Janos Kovacs thundered in a header to give Hereford’s new era the winning start they were looking for at Gresty Road.

The Bulls had to endure some shaky moments at the back but also showed plenty of attacking flair as they returned with the three points.

Hereford boss Simon Davey sprang a surprise by leaving experienced midfielder Kenny Lunt out of the starting line-up for the visit to Gresty Road.

Lunt made more than 400 appearances for the Railwaymen in a decade with the club.

Adam Bartlett got the nod ahead of Dan Connor in the Bulls goal.

Crewe included former Bulls loanee Danny Blanchett at left-back.

With six players making their league debuts for the Bulls – including Stuart Fleetwood on his return to the club – Hereford opened in aggressive fashion and James McQuilkin sliced an early shot wide.

Roared on by a huge following, Hereford did their best to impose themselves in the early stages.

But both sides were evidently still getting to know each other by the number of mis-placed passes.

In the 13th minute, the first set-piece play fell to Crewe after a foul by Mathieu Manset on the Crewe right.

Ashley Westwood’s shot was held confidently by Bartlett.

Crewe should have taken the lead two minutes later when Luke Murphy dispossessed O’Neil Thompson in midfield.

The home player’s crisp pass put O’Neil Donaldson in the clear but the striker shot past an upright as Bartlett came quickly off his line.

Hereford moved swiftly back up the other end and took the lead from their first corner.

James McQuilkin swung over the flag-kick and Kovacs met the ball powerfully to head past Rhys Taylor.

Crewe might have been level four minutes later when Bartlett fumbled a free-kick under heavy pressure. But the Bulls defence got the ball clear after a few further alarms.

A poor challenge on Donaldson brought Ryan Valentine his first yellow card of the season on 25 minutes and Thompson did well to clear the resulting free-kick from Ashley Westwood for a corner.

And, from a further flag-kick, Patrick Ada’s header just cleared the bar.

Shaun Miller then flashed a shot just wide of the diving Bartlett’s far post.

When Hereford fired back, Sean Canham just failed to reach a Valentine cross after good work by Manset.

And Taylor had his hands warmed by a powerful drive from Joe Colbeck.

But, at the other end, Miller missed a great chance to level four minutes from the interval when he sliced a driven cross wide from inside the six-yard box.

Calvin Zola did have the ball in the net, two minutes later but was ruled offside.

And Miller fired badly wide again in the last action of the first period.

Hereford had much the better of possession in the opening stages of the second half with McQuilkin showing up well in midfield.

The young Irishman’s cross caused problems for the home defence but Manset and Kovacs both went for the ball which ended wide of the goal.

But Crewe hit back with a Miller shot which Bartlett turned behind for a corner.

And a poor clearance by Bartlett resulted in a chance for Zola.

But the Hereford rearguard still managed to survive intact.

Colbeck, who moved into a more advanced position with the arrival of Lunt to replace Canham, hammered a shot just over on 62 minutes.

Thompson was booked for his part in a skirmish on 71 minutes and the game’s passions started to rise with some strong challenges starting to fly in.

Hereford continued to have their share of the chances and Manset should have hit the target with a left-foot effort after good approach work by McQuilkin and Fleetwood.

Crewe were far from finished, however, and, 10 minutes from time, Bartlett had to move swiftly off his line when full-back Matt Tootle stormed into the area.

Hereford: Bartlett; Green, Kovacs, Townsend, Valentine; Thompson, McQuilkin, Colbeck; Fleetwood, Canham (Lunt 58), Manset. Subs not used: Connor, Rose, Weir, Gwyne, Stratford, Malsom.

Crewe: Taylor; Tootle, Ada, Artell, Blanchett; Murphy, Bell, Westwood; Donaldson, Zola (Grant 69), Miller (Leitch-Smith 90) Subs: Moore, Mitchel-King, Dugdale, Powell, Barratt.

Referee: Brendan Malone (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 4,343 (including 905 from Hereford).

Goals: Kovacs, 16 min, 0-1.

Yellow cards: Hereford –Valentine, foul, 25 min; Thompson, foul, 71 min; Fleetwood, dissent, 90 min, McQuilkin, dissent, 90 min.