[ Written By Adam Calville ]
A trip into deepest Herefordshire saw the Hatters fail at the last gasp to secure all 3 points in a veritable game of two halves.
Recent acquisition from Guiseley, Rowan Liburd, scoring twice in reply to first-half strikes from Adam Thomas and Nyal Bell leaving County with a single point in their quest to overhaul leaders Chorley who themselves dropped points at home.
A bright sunny day at Edgar Street with a large away following saw Nyal Bell retained as the central striker with Frank Mulhearn on the bench and no place in the squad for Jason Gilchrist. Sam Walker returned with Bully dropping to the bench.
Virtually from the kick-off Adam Thomas was wilfully clattered by the Hereford number three, a clear booking and methinks on another day at another stage of the game a possible red card. Mr Swallow, our official for the day thought otherwise and play continued.
Spurred on by Mr Swallow’s generosity the home side then committed three further horror fouls, none of which resulted in a card of any sort although Mr Swallow did summon the home captain for a short chat.
Play progresses……….. and it was the visitors that dominated proceedings.
A plethora of free kicks and corners produced no dividend. The returning Darren Stevenson tormented the Hereford back line and he progressed into the danger area on several occasions without return.
Then on twenty-seven minutes Darren got his head on the end of a recycled ball in the home sides penalty area and directed the ball to Adam Thomas who fired home 1-0.
Sixty seconds later things got even better as the ball was played in from the left and Nyal Bell, with still a fair amount of work to do fired home into the roof the net. County continued to press for the third goal that would have killed the game off, but despite several more corners and attacking forays no third goal came and the half concluded.
To be honest although joyful at a 2-0 lead I felt a little underwhelmed that given 35 minutes of solid County pressure the game had not been put to bed.
The second half saw the home side make a couple of changes and they started the half with a spark and vigour that they had failed to show in the first half.
The attacking swagger that the Hatters had shown in the first period was largely absent although we were gaining corners they did not produce anything to threaten the home sides goal. The introduction of Warby and Mulhearn gave us a little more potency but produced little.
On two occasions Frank beat his marker fair and square and headed for goal only to be unfairly flagged by the assistant referee in front of the visiting support. One weapon that Hereford had not deployed was their “chucker” who, on the 65th minute launched an Exocet into the Hatters penalty area where Liburd swept the loose ball into the net……….. 2-1
The home side, clearly buoyed by the oxygen of a goal, continued to press. Sam Walker was replaced by Paul Turnbull and as we headed towards the final stages of the game Hereford did most of the pressing with County’s outlet being either Warby or Frank with neither of them being able to produce a killer goal. Darren Stevenson had left the field and I sensed a sigh of relief from the home sides back four. Further rough stuff from Hereford finally resulted in a booking.
Mr Swallow then saw County break, I think it was Warby fouled on the halfway line where the miscreant decided his best course of action was to sit on the ball. A clear free-kick to the Hatters but our referee decided that an old fashioned contested bounce up was the order of the day.
Two recycles of the ball after that and in the 93rd minute the home player goes for an uncontested waltz with the ball along County’s goal line, cuts the ball back and Liburd mishits the ball and we all watch it go in slow motion into the goal at the far post. 2-2.
Plenty of home specs on the pitch, can’t wait for the FA report on that !!
Any last minute goal against makes a draw feel like a defeat and we have done it three times this season. However, the first half performance was excellent and let’s hope that we can reproduce that for 90 minutes + at Chester on Tuesday.
Apologies for this briefest of reports in Mr Brown’s absence ( Grateful Editors response- nay lad…thank you for the excellent report- much appreciated!).