Pictures kindly provided by Steve Wood
Pictures kindly provided by Steve Wood
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
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Stratford Yellow Cards – Heaven Hitchin Yellow Cards – Barker & Thake
“The team I put out today I expected to win a game of football and they haven’t” was the typically honest reaction from a dejected Tommy Wright after seeing Hitchin secure their first League win of the season.
“Other than the penalty I felt that we dominated the first half but heir keeper pulled off two quality saves from Kaire Edwards-John and Chris Wreh. We bossed the possession and instead of going direct we played a more passing game than in recent weeks.
I can’t really comment on the penalty decision as I didn’t see what happened. but there’s pushing at corners in every game and often nothing is given. Today it was and you have to accept it.
But the second half wasn’t like the first. We seemed to lose a bit of belief and to have Ross Oulton limp off was a big blow. To lose your captain and leader in the middle of the park is hard to deal with and we badly missed his influence and encouragement in the last half hour of the game.
We obviously missed Nabil Sharifff today as we’ve been relying on him for the goals and without him we didn’t have a cutting edge.
At 1-0 it only needs a moment of magic to get you back into the game but once the second goal went in it was all over.
On the plus side I was pleased with the performances of James Hancocks and Dylan Parker after their brief spells at Rugby and Kaire Edwards-John also impressed me
I’ve had to let some lads go as I can’t carry a massive squad. If players aren’t playing they leave. That’s the reality of the situation and that’s what happens at any football club.
We’ve got a game against bottom club Leiston next week and we now need to focus on that and make sure we get back to winning ways.”
A much changed Town side slipped to a disappointing defeat at lowly Hitchin who went ahead in only the third minute and added a second with a quarter of an hour to go.
Full report is now available under the First Team Match Reports Section.
Town were originally due to have a home League fixture against Hednesford on Saturday October 5th but in view of Hednesford’s continued involvement in the F A Cup the visitors to the Arden Garages Stadium that day will now be Leiston with that game being brought forward from its later date of Saturday November 23rd.
A new date for the Hednesford game will be announced when known.
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“I don’t know how to put that into words.” admitted a deflated Paul Davis as he stood in for Tommy Wright afterwards. ” Even when you’re talking to the ;players afterwards you find yourself saying the same things and you begin to think what’s the point of saying those same things over and over again.
At least we’ve now got a clear week to prepare for our next game at Hitchin where Nabil will in all probability be suspended. I’ve spoken to him and he’s adamant he didn’t touch their player in the face.
The game was being videoed so we’ll look at it and if the video shows he didn’t hit him in the face we’ll appeal so we’ll see but knowing Nabil as I do I have to say it was com;pletely out of character.
But as far as the game was concerned we again couldn’t deal with Luke Yates. We thought he might play in the pocket as he did in the League Cup game and we watched them a couple of times but he played wide right instead and he terrorised us.
He created the first goal by brushing past Charley O”Keefe so we brought on Dan Vann at half time while the second goal is a free header from a set piece..
Our defenders are given specific men to mark before every game so for someone to have a free header like that is very very frustrating.
And the third goal was similar. I told our centre halves what Montel Gibson is all about and not to let him have a yard or get in behind you but they are totally static and allowed those two things to happen with the inevitable result. .
But the truth is that if you are going to win a game of football you need players to put in 7 or 8 out of 10 performances. Their players did that but ours were only 4 or 5 out of 10 and we got what we deserved.”
Town endured a miserable afternoon as Halesowen repeated their earlier League Cup win with another thoroughly deserved success in this F A Cup Second Qualifying Round tie.
Luis Morrison scored their only goal as Town were second best throughout and suffered the added indignity of having Nabil Shariff sent off twenty minutes from the end.
A full report is available under the First Team Match Reports Section,
Hereford’s well drilled Academy team progressed through to the next round of the F A Youth Cup on Thursday evening but with the tie being played at the historic Edgar Street ground it was still a terrific experience for the Town Youth squad which included six 15 year olds.
And their resilient performance drew warm praise from the Hereford FC Radio team who were providing a live commentary on the game and who made the point that the Town youngsters showed tremendous passion and potential against the older and more streetwise Bulls line-up.
Having already previously beaten Town in the season’s opening MFYL encounter Hereford pushed forward straight from the kick off and it needed a brave block by Jack Ballinger to prevent them going ahead in only the fifth minute.
But that reprieve was to be shortlived as five minutes later Hereford’s lively striker Shaun Yalland latched onto a through pass and coolly slotted the ball past Town keeper Callum Monaghan.
The Bulls kept up the pressure with skipper Rob Whitlock impressing in midfield and Town had to defend in depth and in numbers. Hereford had plenty of possession but with Mike O’Regan outstanding in Town’s backline they were unable to create any real clearcut openings until the closing minutes of the first half when Monaghan pulled off two top quality saves to keep out well struck shots from Morgan Evans followed by Toby Raison glancing a header narrowly wide from a corner.
Town came out looking sharp after the break and Jamie Spiers had their best chance yet three minutes into the second half when he seized on a Bulls mistake only to then soot over.
Soon after Rob Singer chased down a long ball down the middle but the Hereford defence got back and manged to crowd him out.
And the Bulls then regained their earlier control to take the tie out of Town’s reach with two goals in three minutes just before the hour mark.
Firstly another Evans shot was pushed out by Monaghan with Yalland reacting the quickest to lash the loose ball into the net followed soon after by Town conceding a corner which was turned in by Evans from close range.
Town though continued to battle away and the Hereford keeper Ewen Hooper did well to smother the ball at Spiers’ feet and then deal with an on-target attempt from Singer.
But the Bulls then added a fourth in the 77th minute when a pinpoint cross from Evans was met with an assured finish from substitute Chris Hilton giving Monaghan no chance before Town displayed yet more of their tremendous spirit as they finished with a real flourish.
With eight minutes to go Hooper had to go full length to push another Singer effort behind and when the corner came across it was headed in by Sammy Mould and a couple of minutes later Town substitute Leon Underhill forced Hooper into another decent save as Town kept going right up to the final whistle.
“I’m really proud of the lads” was Nick Ballinger’s reaction afterwards. “Hereford are a top side with some quality players who will probably win the League this season but we made them fight all the way. They all enjoyed playing on such a famous ground and it’s all part of their development. We defended superbly and it was a tremendous overall team performance.”
With Tommy Wright’s squad continuing to evolve midfielder James Hancocks and striker Dylan Parker are linking up with former Town boss Carl Adams at Rugby in pursuit of more time on the pitch.
Both featured in Town’s pre-season friendly programme but have found their game time has been severely limited since with James making the starting line-up only once with two further appearances as a substitute while Dylan has had to be content with just two opportunities from the subs bench.
Nonetheless they remain Town players and Tommy Wright will be monitoring their progress at Butlin Road over the coming weeks.