Leader Preview: Hereford United v Wrexham FC

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.

Chris Llewellyn_320

Last season’s 1-0 win at Edgar Street ended something of an unhappy run of league results at Hereford. It was the first time we’d returned from there with all the points in twenty five years!

It was a former Hereford striker who did the damage too, as Ollie Kearns scored twice in the first half to earn a 2-0 win in February 1988. He was also famously denied a goal at Hereford when a goalbound shot beat the keeper but stuck in the muddy pitch!

We have won there since then, though, having secured a couple of pleasing cup victories. Perhaps the toughest game we were given on our way to winning the LDV Vans Trophy Final in 2005 was our match at Edgar Street. Hereford might have been two divisions lower than us, but they fought hard and took a 20th minute lead in this northern section semi-final. However, within a minute Juan Ugarte had equalized, heading in an Andy Holt cross.

Hereford continued to threaten in a thrilling cup tie, and Ben Foster had to be sharp in The Dragons’ goal before Chris Llewelyn popped up to score a precious winner with a quarter of an hour left.

That’s not the only cup triumph we’ve enjoyed there since Kearns gave us that league win in 1988. In April 1991 Lee Jones and Andy Preece earned us a 2-1 Welsh Cup semi-final win, and two seasons later we won there again at the quarter final stage, two goals from Jon Cross and one by Gary Bennett seeing us to a 3-2 victory.

In the league, however, that victory last season, which ended our worst ever run of four successive defeats against The Bulls, stands out. Our visits to Edgar Street have tended to follow a more depressing pattern as we’ve only won two and drawn five of seventeen league games at Hereford.

Most notably, of course, it was at Edgar Street that we suffered the 2-0 defeat which finally confirmed our relegation to the Conference in April 2008. Clearly that was our most painful experience at the ground, though statistically speaking our worst defeat there came in March 1984 when we lost a Fourth Division match 3-0.

Another notable loss there came in November 2001 when the BBC, spotting that we were limping along in League One and likely to struggle away to a feisty Hereford side which was doing well in the Conference, decided to show our FA Cup first round tie live.

They were rewarded with an upset as we slumped to our sixth defeat in a row, the club’s worst losing streak in ten years, after a 1-0 loss.

To be fair, Wrexham were a little unfortunate though, and dominated the match only to be constantly repelled by a string of fine saves by Matt Baker. That spectacular performance  got him a move into the Football League – with us! However, once we got a close look at him we realized we’d had the misfortune to come across him on a good day and let him go!

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