Saturday, March 25, 2006

KIDDERMINSTER all but ended Hereford's faint hopes of catching Accrington Stanley at the top of the Nationwide Conference with Saturday's shock result at Edgar Street.

Hereford, with an unbeaten run of 16 matches behind them, had been hot favourites to extend their successful streak against an unpredictable Harriers side.

But Harriers bounced back from their season's lowest point - last week's 4-1 home drubbing by Aldershot Town - to extend their successful run against their local rivals.

Hereford have to look to January 1, 1998 to find their last success against Harriers.

The Bulls were up against it from the 36th minute when they were reduced to 10 men with the sending off of Andy Ferrell.

The midfielder was the victim of a crude challenge by Terry Fleming and aimed a retaliatory kick at the Kidderminster man. Referee Chris Sarginson brandished an immediate red card and also cautioned Fleming.

Despite this, Hereford seemed to be holding their own until the 71st minute when Michael Blackwood's 25-yarder took a huge deflection off Tamika Mkandawire to completely wrong-foot Wayne Brown in the home goal.

Harriers included new signings Jon Newby and Simon Rea and recalled Fleming to their midfield.

Hereford also showed changes with Ryan Green and Daryl Taylor returning and Rob Purdie pushed into midfield to the exclusion of Robbie King and Nicky Nicolau.

Newby almost made a dream start to his Harriers career with a second-minute header which Tony James cleared off the line.

The visitors should, however, have fallen behind on 19 minutes when Purdie's run and pass sent Stuart Fleetwood racing in on goal.

The young striker had only goalkeeper John Danby to beat but slipped his shot wide of a post.

Hereford were lucky to survive at the other end five minutes later, though, when it took an excellent point-blank block from Brown to keep out John Mullins' header from a Jonathan Harkness free-kick. But, with the game switching from end to end, Mkandawire flashed a header from an Alex Jeannin free-kick narrowly wide.

Ferrell's sending-off failed to alter the swiftly-switching nature of the play before the interval and there were few chances after the break.

In the 65th minute, however, Williams almost beat Danby to a poorly-hit back pass from Harkness but the young striker should have done better five minutes later.

Substitute Adam Stansfield, making a return after his fractured cheek-bone injury, knocked the ball down to Williams who steadied himself before thrashing a shot inches wide of a post.

A minute later, Blackwood's strike settled the issue and, although Luke Reynolds saw a shot saved by Brown, there were few other real moments of danger at either end.

Williams might have saved United a point in injury time, though when he ghosted in at the near post to meet Jamie Pitman's cross but flicked his header high and wide.

Hereford: Brown, Green, Mkandawire, James, Jeannin, Taylor (Pitman 82), Stanley, Ferrell, Purdie, Fleetwood (Stansfield 67), Williams. Subs (not used): Mawson, Beckwith, Nicolau.

Harriers: Danby, Mullins, Rea, Burgess, Harkness, Sheldon, Penn, Fleming, Blackwood, Newby (Thompson, 71 min), Reynolds (Russell, 79 min). Subs (not used): Lewis, Sedgemore, Hurren.

Attendance: 4,223