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.”