Hereford & Morpeth Town set up Wembley date – FA Vase Semi-Finals Second Leg Review

Salisbury 1 Hereford 2 (Hereford go through 3-1 on aggregate)

hereford

Hereford FC sealed their place at Wembley in the FA Vase Final with a 2-1 away victory at Salisbury, winning the semi-final tie overall 3-1 and booking a trip to the famous arch in May against Morpeth Town. The hosts took the lead through defender Steve Walker but Hereford hit back before half-time through Mike Symons. The Bulls dominated the second period but Mustapha Bundu’s missed penalty increased nerves before sub Joe Tumelty made sure of progression with a cool finish.

The pre match decision for Peter Beadle was whether to introduce John Mills up top but stuck to his guns, leaving Symons to lead the line. The hosts made three changes to their team to freshen up their approach following the narrow defeat at Edgar Street a week earlier.

Salisbury made their intentions clear early on – by swiping down Bundu on the left with a crude tackle.

A yellow card was the reward for Walker. A 30 yard free-kick from Bundu was held by the ‘keeper before the home team started to make inroads to the Bulls’ defence, Taurean Roberts found space on the left but his left-foot shot was blocked by the covering Joel Edwards.

In the 18th minute, Salisbury took the lead and increased the nerves of the Hereford fans. A long ball was punted into the Hereford box and despite having opportunities to clear, the ball bounced around and fell to Walker who fired across Martyn Horsell and into the corner. The home crowd found their voice and Salisbury were on the front foot. Brandon Mundy was finding space in between the Hereford defence and midfield and after Ryan Green had backed off, Mundy fired at Horsell. Minutes later Mundy escaped the intentions of Aaron Birch but couldn’t hit the target from outside the box.

In the 41st minute the game was turned on its head as Hereford found the equaliser in front of the Salisbury support. Pablo Haysham dropped deep to receive the ball and sprayed a pass to the right wing to Ross Staley. He cut in onto his favoured left foot and shot goalwards with the ball looping up off a defender but breaking at the back-post to Symons who diverted into the back of the net first time.

Despite a poor first period, the proceedings on the day were level and it was all to play for in the second half.

The second half was a different spectacle – Hereford were dominant from the first whistle and Salisbury lacked the intensity that their first half had displayed. Rob Purdie played a pass down the left wing to Bundu, who skipped past his man before a dangerous low cross to the near post was cleared for a corner with Haysham threatening. There was a better chance to follow; Bundu received a superbly weighted through ball by Haysham which sent the Hartbury student racing through on goal but he lacked the composure to beat Charlie Searle who blocked well.

Steve Claridge made changes just shy of the hour mark. Daniel Young and Ashley Jarvis came on in place of Mundy and George Colson respectively. In truth it had little effect on the one way traffic as Hereford continued to work towards the home team’s goal. Bundu was involved again, curling into Searle’s arms from the left having dispossessed the Salisbury right-back.

Hereford had their best opportunity to go in front midway through the second half when they were awarded a penalty. Haysham chased down a lost cause on the left wing and cut in to the box before being bundled in the back and the ref immediately awarded the penalty. Bundu grabbed the ball in front of the travelling army but saw his shot from 12 yards pushed away by Searle. Bundu tried to redeem himself minutes later when he received a pass from Symons and jinked past two defenders but a low left foot shot was turned around the post by Searle again. Tumelty was introduced for Staley as Hereford looked to freshen up their attacking options.

Salisbury rarely threatened the Hereford defence and when they did, they couldn’t test Horsell. A corner from the left bounced past a number of defenders to Samuel Wilson at the back stick but his lashed half volley hit the side netting. The decisive goal of the game was in the 78th minute as Tumelty struck. Hereford broke again on the left and Haysham’s cut back broke to Tumelty, who composed himself before placing the ball into the corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations from the away end.

Jamie Willets replaced Bundu as Beadle looked to protect the lead but it was still Hereford who looked the most likely to score. Tumelty was crudely bought down by Kane O’Keefe and Purdie struck the free kick against the base of the post. In stoppage time, a huge boot forward was battled for by Symons, who outmuscled two defenders but saw his low shot blocked by Searle. A 35 yard shot in the 93rd minute by Salisbury cleared the home stand and summed up their day. From the resulting goal kick, the referee blew and Hereford FC were confirmed as being on their way to Wembley.

The emotions in the away end summed up the achievement with the happiness evident on all Hereford supporters faces. The past few years of supporting our famous little club has had its downs but now there are more ups under the new regime, giving us hope for the future. Having never been to Wembley before it’s going to be a great occasion for the club and the city of Hereford. Bring your friends, and bring their friends and their friends again.

On the day, Hereford looked nervous but grew into it and were a class above in the second half. Ryan Green was excellent at the back, but there were touches of class from both Bundu and Haysham in the final third. A mention for the away support too, all 657 of them who made their voices heard and have been the twelfth man throughout the season. With the euphoria of reaching a Wembley final, it’s dangerous to take the eye of the prize of the league. Alvechurch bounced back from their midweek defeat with an impressive 3-0 win at AFC Wulfrunians and Hereford need to react with a win on Tuesdsy evening, when they entertain Loughborough University.

Hereford: Horsell, Oates, Green, Summers, Edwards, Staley, Birch, Purdie, Bundu, Haysham, Symons.

Subs: Willets, Grant, Bonella, Tumelty, Mills.

Salisbury: Searle, Colson, Perrett, Whelan, Walker, Wheeler, Demkiv, O’Keefe, Wilson, Mundy, Roberts.

Subs: Jarvis, White, Matthews, Young, Roberts.

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

Video Highlights:

Video – Hereford FC

Morpeth Town 2 Bowers & Pitsea 1 (Morpeth Town go through 4-3 on aggregate)

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I was over at Craik Park in Morpeth to see this epic Semi-Final decided by a stoppage time winner for Morpeth Town, taking them to a Wembley showdown with Hereford in May.

It certainly sent most of the bumper crowd of 1,256 wild after spending much of the afternoon biting their finger nails, especially when Bowers had their best spells either side of half time and during the second half.

The afternoon had started well for the home side as they made their intentions clear from off, looking to once again stamp their authority on this tie. In the very first minute the hosts got into a decent shooting position but Luke Carr hit his effort straight at Martin Guest.

However two minutes later ‘Peth’ were to take the lead when a corner played to the edge of the area found Sean Taylor who whipped a wonderful first time effort past Guest and gave his side the ideal start.

Bowers were struggling to contain their opponents and on 12 minutes almost saw the hosts make it two when a cross swung in was headed just over by Michael Chilton. Moments later a ball over the top of the visiting defence found Taylor but he could only hit his effort straight at Guest. The hosts continued to make all the running and midway through the half more good play from Morpeth saw a cross headed wide by Taylor.

However as the game went past the half hour mark Bowers began to settle into the contest more and this saw the tempo drop slightly although the hosts still threatened on 34 minutes when Chilton volleyed wide of the mark and seven minutes before the half time break the hosts sprung forward again and saw Ben Sayer’s eventual effort go over the bar.

It was still only 1-0 though and Bowers knew one chance and they could be level and sure enough with six minutes of the half remaining they did just that when after a loose ball dropped inside the six yard box right in front of Lewis Manor, the striker made no mistake in firing past Karl Dryden and bring the Essex side level in this tie once again.

‘Peth’ did have one more chance in the first period with three minutes of the half remaining when a free kick swung in saw Chris Swailes head his looping effort onto the roof of the net. But as the half came to an end the tie was still in the balance as both teams went in all square.

Half Time Morpeth Town 1 Bowers & Pitsea 1 (aggregate score 3-3)

Just like the First Leg, Bowers came out and started the second half well, knowing a similar performance would give them a great chance at reaching Wembley, and on 52 minutes James Stevens stung the palms of Dryden from range as the ESL outfit looked to make it a now rather uncomfortable afternoon for the hosts and their fans.

Bowers continued their pressure on the ‘Peth’ side although on 66 minutes a decent cross from hosts winger Taylor just invaded Chilton, giving Bowers a reminder that they were still very much a threat, as this tie was very much in the balance still. On 69 minutes the visitors attacked again and saw a Stevens corner almost headed home by Manor, but he could only get a slight touch on the ball and it drifted wide.

Three minutes later the away side saw a long throw into the ‘Peth’ area flicked on by Luke Wilson towards goal but keeper Dryden managed to catch the ball ahead of Manor, who surely would of nodded home had he not done that. Jordan Fry then fired over for the hosts soon after as the home side tried to re gain this tie.

The hosts started to crank up the gears again as we entered the final fifteen crucial minutes of this tie and on 76 minutes a good effort from substitute Dale Pearson saw Guest make a routine catch above his head and then moments later Carr fired well wide from a decent position as ‘Peth’ looked to get their noses in front once again.

Bowers assignment was made tougher with seven minutes of the ninety left when Ross Adams grappled with Keith Graydon and received a second yellow and was sent off, meaning the visitors would have to play the remainder of this tie a man down. Morpeth looked to try and make this numerical advantage count and on 86 minutes saw a great chance for them Taylor found himself all alone in the box, but he could only fire straight at Guest.

Two minutes later the hosts went so close again as a loose ball fell to them inside the six yard box but the effort was somehow fired over the bar. And then came a moment that Bowers substitute Tom Hine may look back on with hindsight. The Bowers winger found himself in on goal and saw keeper Dryden come out and clip his heal as he went around him, but Hine stayed on his feet before eventually firing a shot against the outside of the post from an acute angle.

It was a massive let off for the hosts and the tension inside the ground was palpable but this was somewhat lifted when in the 93rd minute, just four minutes after that huge let off, ‘Peth’ grabbed the winner when Carr converted a Graydon cross to send the masses of home fans wild with delight and bring total devastation to Bowers and their followers.

Football is a game of margins as we know and that was in total evidence today. Congratulations to Morpeth Town on reaching Wembley but commiserations to the Bowers & Pitsea boys, they gave it absolutely everything out there but fell just short in the end. A great cup tie and a wonderful advert for this level of football, good luck to Morpeth Town in the final against Hereford.

Full Time Morpeth Town 2 Bowers & Pitsea 1 (aggregate score 4-3)

By Peter Dudley

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

Also find me on twitter @ped1980

Video Highlights (Both legs):

Video – Highwaymen TV

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