ALTHOUGH hope is not yet completely gone, Hereford’s prospects of avoiding the League 2 drop have been badly damaged by their failure to beat Barnet at Underhill.

The point they achieved takes them, at least temporarily ahead of Macclesfield but they are still three points adrift of a safety position with only three games left.

United led by Delroy Facey’s goal before some typically hapless defending gifted an equaliser to Ben May.

Hereford sprang a couple of surprises ahead of their must-win game at Underhill.

Goalkeeper Dave Cornell became the fall-guy with all the outfield loan players required for action so Adam Bartlett returned between the sticks.

Skipper Stefan Stam was also omitted to allow Byron Anthony to return to the centre of defence with Ben Purkiss recalled at right-back.

Delroy Facey returned to lead the attack with Nathan Elder and Yoann Arquin on a bench which did not include a substitute goalkeeper despite the presence of Dan Hanford among the party who travelled.

Barnet forced an early corner when Michael Townsend made a mess of an attempted header back to Bartlett.

The keeper redeemed the situation by confidently fielding Mark Byrne’s flag-kick.

The early action was frenetic but, after nine minutes, Hereford gained their first corner when a Nicky Featherstone shot deflected wide.

A minute later, the Bulls were in front.

A superb cross from Purkiss on the right was met by Facey at the far post and the ball sped into the net past Dean Brill.

Barnet, who were coming under pressure from their fans for some aimless play, responded with a Clovis Kamdjo drive which flew high over.

Attacking down the pronounced slope, Hereford continued to push forward and only a fine tackle by ex-Bulls loanee Paul Downing prevented Tom Barkhuizen from getting away.

Spotting that his side was in danger of having the game taken away from them, Bees boss Lawrie Sanchez made a change with powerful striker Ben May replacing full-back Sead Hajrovic.

And on the half-hour, Hereford gifted away their traditional goal.

Anthony got in a tangle trying to clear from the dangerous Izale McLeod and the ball dropped for substitute May to drive home.

Barnet kept up the pressure on the Hereford goal up to the interval without forcing Bartlett into much direct action.

Barnet won an early free-kick as the expected second-half charge down the slope began.

And a 20-yarder from Sam Deering flashed over the bar as the pressure continued.

Ricky Holmes was the next to try his luck but with no greater accuracy than Deering’s.

Will Evans and Jordan Mustoe were lectured by referee Chris Sarginson as temperatures began to rise.

And the Bulls man was immediately replaced by the mercurial Arquin who was pushed up front with Facey.

The Frenchman quickly had an opening when played in by Barkhuizen’s pass only for the ball to be taken off his toe by some astute defending.

Barnet resumed the attack and a volley from skipper Mark Hughes went bobbling just past an upright.

The home side created another down the left when McLeod showed his pace to get past Purkiss only to shoot across goal and wide.

And Mark Byrne joined in the shot-fest with a volley the wrong side of an upright.

With most of the attacking continuing to be down the slope, Deering blazed a shot over.

Hereford, however, had the best chance of the half on 78 minutes.

Barkhuizen charged down a clearance and the ball fell to Arquin who took the ball wide and then sliced his shot horribly.

At the other end, Bartlett was down smartly to grasp a shot from Byrne.

Hereford had another great in the dying minutes when Arquin’s shot was beaten o ut by Brill and his follow-up drive blocked on the line by a defender.

Hereford: 4-5-1: Bartlett; Purkiss, Anthony, Townsend, Chambers (Baxendale 77); Barkhuizen, Featherstone, Lunt, Evans (Arquin 57), Clucas; Facey (Elder 90). Subs not used: Stam, Colbeck.

Barnet: 4-4-2: Brill; Hajrovic (May 25), Hughes, Byrne, Kamdjo, Hector, Downing, Mustoe, Byrne Kamdjo, Hughes, Deering; McLeod, Holmes. Subs not used: Yiadom, O’Brien, Saville, N’Diaye.

Referee: Chris Sarginson (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 3,189.(including 673 from Hereford).

Goals: Facey, 11 min, 0-1; May, 31 min, 1-1.

Yellow cards: Hereford – Townsend, foul, 76 min; Purkiss, foul, 82 min; Barnet – Hughes, foul, 62 min; Holmes, foul, 70 min;