Writer: Alan Brown
Date:Sunday August 31 2008
Sat 30-Aug-08; 3pm
Attendance: 2,894 (428 away)
The last time Hereford United gained a victory in the third tier of English football Abba's single 'Take a Chance on Me' was still riding high in the music charts!
Back in March 1978 the Bulls hammered Exeter City 4-0 at Edgar Street, but yesterday United took a chance of their own by introducing the relatively unknown Stephen O'Leary for his home debut.
And what a debut it proved to be.
O'Leary excelled by not only scoring United's opener but he was constantly prompting and probing right across midfield, providing the Bulls with much needed vision and movement.
Hereford boss Graham Turner had signed the ex Luton Town playmaker on a one year contract earlier in the week in an effort to 'freshen up' the Bulls midfield.
He also rang the changes with Darren Randolph restored between the sticks, while Kris Taylor replaced the on-loan Liverpool player Robbie Threlfall at left-back.
Matty Done took over from Clint Easton on the left wing and in the fifth and final alteration to the side, Bradley Hudson-Odoi partnered Steve Guinan up front.
In an evenly contested first half Tom Pope threatened to put Crewe in front on two seperate occasions but was denied each time by Randolph.
Taylor went close in a frantic opening burst but saw his ambitious 30-yarder fizz past the post.
Then in strode O'Leary centre stage.
In the best move of the match, Richard Rose scampered down the right latching onto a Guinan through ball. His overlapping run ended with a terrific cross which picked out O'Leary who had ghosted in at the far post.
Unfortunately, he could not keep his header down and the ball flew over the crossbar.
Back came Crewe in a throughly entertaining match and after skipper Ben Smith gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 35th minute, the Railwaymen almost broke the deadlock.
Left-back Billy Jones rifled in a free-kick but Randolph was equal to it, smothering the ball at the second attempt.
Some of the end-to-end football at this point was a delight to watch and from one of Hereford's rapier thrusts forward Hudson-Odoi's cross caused consternation in the Crewe defence but the ball somehow eluded Smith as he raced in, and the Railwaymen cleared.
Crewe claimed a penalty five minutes before the break when Pope was fouled by Beckwith but the referee said the incident took place outside the box. However, from the resulting Michael O'Connor free-kick only a wonder save by Randolph kept the scoresheet blank at half-time.
Indeed, defender Julien Baudet put the ball in the back of the Hereford net right on the stroke of half-time after getting on the end of an Anthony Elding flick-on, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
After the interval United's confidence received a double boost with two second half goals.
O'Leary's superbly curled 25 yarder put United in front in the 48th minute. O'Leary picked his spot after a Smith cross had been partially cleared. This was a picture goal which fairly flew into the top right hand corner of the visitors net giving keeper Steve Collis no chance whatsoever.
Ten minutes later Hudson-Odoi should have doubled the Bulls lead but skied over the bar after a Matty Done corner had only been partially cleared by the beleaguered Crewe defence.
However, United had their tails up at this stage and the former Fulham striker crisply finished off a three-man move involving Taylor, O'Leary and Hudson-Odoi to put Hereford two-up.
Dean Beckwith's 68th minutes header almost made it three, but this time keeper Collis was able to fingertip the ball over the crossbar.
There was no sign of nervousness from the Hereford defence towards the end, although Rose had to clear a Baudet header off the line with quarter of an hour remaining.
However, United showed good discipline to run down the clock thereby securing the vital three points.
So, United are off and running thanks to a sleek and spirited victory.
Final Score: Hereford United 2 - 0 Crewe Alexandra
Hereford United: Darren Randolph, Richard Rose, Sam Oji, Dean Beckwith, Kris Taylor, Bradley Hudson-Odoi (Simon Johnson, 70 min), Stephen O`Leary, Ben Smith, Toumani Diagouraga, Matty Done (Clint Easton, 85 min), Steve Guinan. Substitutes not used: Craig Samson, Robbie Threlfall, Moses Ashikodi.
Crewe Alexandra: Collis, Woodards, O`Donnell, Baudet, Jones, Moore, Bailey, O`Conner (Schumacher, 66 min), Grant, Pope (Donaldson, 66 min), Elding (Zola, 85 min). Substitutes not used: Rix, Miller.
Referee: Pat Miller (Bedfordshire).
Attendance: 2,894 (428 from Crewe).
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Date:Sunday August 31 2008
FLASHBACK: Ainsworth inspires Hereford (Thursday October 28 2010)
Capital date for Bulls board (Monday September 20 2010)
Capital date for Russon (Tuesday August 31 2010)
Video Vault; RIP Adam Stansfield (Thursday August 26 2010)
London Bulls Launched (Thursday August 26 2010)
Kovacs bullet seals Hereford win (Sunday August 8 2010)
FLASHBACK: Hereford run riot at New Street (Sunday July 4 2010)
Video Vault; The Bulls Crossbar Challenge 2006 (Thursday June 24 2010)
Video Vault; Bristol City v Hereford 6-May-1986 (Friday June 11 2010)
Video Vault; Northampton v Hereford 6-Sep-1992 (Thursday June 3 2010)
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