FA Vase Semi-Finals First Leg Review: Hereford edge Salisbury, plus Morpeth & Bowers & Pitsea draw to set up intriguing second leg

Hereford 1 Salisbury 0

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Ahead of the much anticipated FA Vase Semi-Final first leg, Pete Beadle reverted mainly to the side that won at Loughborough last Saturday after several changes at Highgate on Tuesday. The only change was top goalscorer John Mills dropping to the bench with Mike Symons taking his place in the starting XI.

With a fourth 4000+ Edgar Street attendance of the season, the record Hereford FC attendance was broken for a second time this season as the Whites entertained Salisbury this afternoon.

Hereford got play underway and attacked the extremely vocal Meadow End in the first half. Seconds after kick off Aaron Birch was left lying in need of treatment following a high kick by Salisbury’s skipper Kane O’Keefe, which resulted in the midfielder playing the rest of the game with a bandaged head.

With the resulting free kick taken short to Ryan Green, he found Mike Symons on the left flank with a diagonal ball; Symons delivered a floating cross into the box to the head of Ross Staley, but his effort was too high to trouble Charlie Searle in the Salisbury goal.

Moments later, another lengthy period of injury followed. Rob Purdie’s inswinging corner was headed behind by Calum Brockway, but after falling awkwardly onto his arm, suffered a dislocated shoulder in what was only his first game back since dislocating it at the end of January. After being stretched off, Hereford restarted play with a corner, but couldn’t get a shot away as the attack petered out.

In the 12th minute, Mustapha Bundu was brought down by George Colson as he tried to break into the box. Haysham stepped up to take the free kick, forcing the keeper into pushing the low drive around the post for a fruitless corner.

The half continued to be dominated by Hereford, and like Highgate on Tuesday, Salisbury were a very physical side. The Bulls kept pressing Salisbury’s defence, but weren’t able to create a clear-cut chance until the 39th minute when Mike Symons broke away down the left. With some neat footwork, Symons worked the ball into the box, but he dragged his right-footed effort wide of the mark.

5 minutes later Ross Staley whipped in a cross from the right into the path of the advancing Pablo Haysham, but when trying to get something on the cross, blatantly handled the ball to redirect it past the keeper and into the back of the net. Despite this, the referee initially awarded the goal with the linesman not flagging, but after protests from Salisbury Boss Steve Claridge and the rest of the squad, the referee eventually reversed his decision and disallowed Haysham’s goal.

HT: Hereford 0 – Salisbury 0

Hereford were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second period, scoring 4 minutes after the restart. Salisbury were under pressure with Mike Symons in possession in front of goal, but substitute Elliot Wheeler did manage to clear the ball as far as Jimmy Oates who was in space on the edge of the box. Amongst a congested penalty area, Oates’s cross found Mustapha Bundu at the far post who powerfully headed home to open the scoring.

Hereford were then extremely unlucky not to grab a second 12 minutes later, being denied twice by the woodwork. Jimmy Oates played a neat cross field ball to Mustapha Bundu who did well to control the ball with a great touch. After beating his man, Bundu whipped in a cross from a tight angle on the left, but Ross Staley’s rising effort from point blank range hit the underside of the crossbar, before his header from the rebound was denied by the upright.

Hereford hit the post yet again on the stroke of the 62nd minute after a Rob Purdie corner. Nathan Summers’ header was redirected with a flicked headed effort by Bundu, but his chance clipped the crossbar to keep the score at 1-0.

Hereford’s goalkeeper Martin Horsell pulled off a fine save in the 81st minute to deny Salisbury an equaliser from what was their only real clear-cut chance of the game. With Salisbury taking a free kick short to Thomas Whelan, he played the ball into the box, finding Stephen Walter at the far post. Walter’s powerful headed effort was pushed behind with a  brilliant reflex save by Horsell for a corner which Salisbury couldn’t capitalise on.

Despite a handful of half-chances for both sides in the remaining 10 minutes, neither could carve out anything meaningful as all eyes turn to the second leg at Salisbury in 7 days time.

FT: Hereford 1 – Salisbury 0
Att: 4,683 with 537 from Wiltshire

Sponsors’ MotM: Ryan Green

BN Twitter MotM vote (link)

Hereford: Horsell, Oates, Green, Summers, Edwards, Staley (Grant – 77’), Birch, Purdie, Bundu, Haysham (Bonella – 87’), Symons (Mills – 84’).

Subs not used: Willets, Pilling.

Salisbury: Searle, Colson, Walker, Brockway, Hart, Demkiv, Whelan, O’Keefe, Young, Mundy, Wilson.

Subs: Jarvis, Matthews, Wheeler, T. Roberts, S. Roberts

Match report & photos courtesy of Bulls News – A great website for all things Hereford FC related.

Video – Hereford FC

Bowers & Pitsea 2 Morpeth Town 2

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I was over at the Aspect Arena on Canvey Island to see Bowers & Pitsea fightback from two goals down to earn a draw with Morpeth Town,setting up next weeks second leg perfectly.

The hosts will certainly take great heart from the comeback after a first half saw them largely second best and almost out of the tie. The match began in cagey fashion and the first chance did actually fall to the hosts on eight minutes as a ball across to Tom Hine saw him strike his effort across goal and wide.

Two minutes later Bowers forward Lewis Manor almost managed to get in for the hosts but the ball just got away from him and drifted away for a goal kick. And then the visitors struck moments later in the 11th minute when Sean Taylor saw Martin Guest off his line and he duly chipped over him from range for a superb opener and give the North East side the advantage.

On 17 minutes visitors full back James Novak struck over from distance but the Northern League side were now in the ascendency following that goal. Bowers did continue to try and find a leveller and on twenty minutes Luke Wilson saw his effort deflect just wide before the resultant corner saw the same man head just over.

However the travelling supporters were to be celebrating a second Morpeth goal on 33 minutes when Michael Chilton followed up to net a rebound after Guest had saved an initial effort from Taylor and it looked as though Bowers were going to find this one step to far in their Vase quest. They did manage to keep the scoreline at 2-0 as they went into the half time break but knew they had a mountain to climb to get back into this tie.

Half Time Bowers & Pitsea 0 Morpeth Town 2

However the Bowers side came out and decided to take the game to their opponents and pushed them back from the start of the second half and five minutes into it great play from the hosts saw Vinny Durrant volley over first time but it was definitely a sign of intent from the ESL side.

The hosts continued to have a good spell but came up against the brick wall that was the Morpeth defence, led by 45 year old veteran Chris Swailes. Bowers thought they had found a way back into the tie when they saw Aaron Russell convert a forward ball into the box on 67 minutes, but he was correctly flagged offside.

Then two minutes later the visitors almost made it three when after poor defensive work from the hosts, the effort from Morpeth was cleared off the line. It proved pivitol as moments later the hosts were back in this tie when Lewis Manor thumped home a loose ball inside the box and gave the home side a massive lift and it was well deserved after their second half display.

The hosts continued to put ball into the visitors area and the Northumberland outfit were just about dealing with what was coming their way. On 78 minutes Bowers went close to a leveller when a corner was headed across goal and wide by Wilson although the visitors were still looking dangerous at times and moments after this saw a cross flash high across the hosts area but away to safety.

Bowers though kept applying pressure and on 89 minutes finally broke the door down and levelled the tie up when a mis hit shot smashed across the area saw Alfie Hilton convert from close range and send the hosts wild. It really did not look likely at half time but Rob Smalls men just never know when they are beaten. Four minutes of stoppage time elapsed and the referee brought this cracking semi-final 1st leg to a close.

It certainly was a game of two halves and sets up a 2nd leg showdown in the North East in a winner takes all tie for a place at Wembley against either Hereford or Salisbury. It certainly proves to be a exciting day next Saturday.

Full Time Bowers & Pitsea 2 Morpeth Town 2

By Peter Dudley

To read my blogs of local footie action visit pedroslocalfootiefix.blogspot.co.uk

Also find me on twitter @ped1980

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