More FA Cup magic: Cheltenham 1 Hereford 1


photo (13)

Everton the carrot, the FA Cup‘s favourite team, Hereford, were back in action.

Cheeky Cheltenham chanted at their visitors: “You’re Welsh and you know you are.” So that was recommendation enough for this fan who decided to quietly follow the Bulls from the Cheltenham terrace.

In fact, they barely chanted anything else all night – the most genteel fans I have ever witnessed in the Football League. Nary a sour word all night. Just quiet frustration at being largely outplayed by the big beasts from up the road who are surprisingly a division lower down the leagues.photo (11)

Programme was a bit thin but had a decent feature on Clive Walker, ex-Chelsea, the first player to score 100 league goals and 100 non-league goals,  many for Cheltenham. Now working for radio in London.photo (10)

Interesting to note that Hereford’s Bowman had aged 20 years since his appearance last month against Shrewsbury. 39 according to the programme, which also showed that the core support here is about 2,500. Tonight there were nearer 6,000.

The first half started with a bang and provided Cheltenham’s most impressive football. Minxy McGlashan darted down the right and his powerful cross was backheeled in by Shaun Harrad. Gloriously cheeky.

Hereford bounced back three minutes later with the equaliser from Joshua O’Keeffe and should have taken the lead not long after with a brilliant move that produced a good save from Brown.

At half-time, 1-1 looked like it would be the appetiser for a second-half goal feast but Martin Foyle had other ideas. Dull ideas.

After the break, Hereford just contented themselves with sitting back and trying to hit on the break. Sensible enough given a replay will help them financially next week. But Cheltenham never looked much of a threat and McGlashan – such a worry in the first 45 minutes – came off well before the end.photo (12)

In fact it seemed the host players didn’t really want the responsibility of trying to create a chance and a replay was the least Hereford deserved

So David Moyes, Leighton Baines, Phil Neville, wotsisname Fellatio et al will have to wait a bit longer to find out who they will face in the third round.

But I fancy the Bulls to win it.

Hereford 3 Shrewsbury 1

Bowman steps up to score

Love the FA Cup. Can’t understand why others don’t and prefer to skip it.

So it was great to see this tie come out of the hat, offering local derby needle and a nod to cup history given that Hereford and the competition are virtually married.

Seems like the city is famous for three things – the SAS, the Mappa Mundi and Ronnie Radford‘s goal against Newcastle in 1972 – the night of mud and Motty.

John Motson who, surely everyone knows by now, came to prominence by virtue of being commentator at the match which due to its seismic result had to be the main match on Match of the Day that weekend. And for a Cardiff fans there were lots of little things to savour.

Ian Rodgerson, my favourite ex-City right back of the 80s, once likened to Beckenbauer by Frankie Burrows (well there wasn’t much to rave about in those days), is now the Bulls’ chartered physio.

The programme picked out a first round Hereford win against Barnet. Phil Stant was the scorer 25 years ago. God, it seems like only yesterday he was playing for us against Man City and Luton – the man who epitomised Cardiff’s escape from the doldrums of 1990 to reach a point where the club has featured in two Wembley finals in five seasons.

For Shrewbury, Paul Parry started and you couldn’t help thinking that if David James hadn’t saved his half-chance early on in the 2008 Cup final his career would have taken a different trajectory and that he wouldn’t be playing in this game.

Always a big fan of Parry – his thundering runs down the wing, usually to collect a pinpoint Steve McPhail pass are among my favourite Ninian Park memories.

Aaron Wildig came on as sub when the game was all but gone. Still only 20, he featured for the Bluebirds at Stamford Bridge a couple of years ago.

And Joe Jacobson on the bench for Shrewsbury. The former Wales under-21 skipper looked a good bet for a higher division four or five years ago but has never made that jump.

So Hereford, 14th in the Conference and Shrewsbury, just above the League 1 relegation zone.

It seemed like a classic tie. The sun was obliged to shine. So it did.

Liked the overheard pre-match comment, delivered in a warm Herefordshire burr: “Now I don’t want no aggro from you neither.”

Liked the seven-year-old lad who sported a mohican, its crest coloured black and white.

Liked the match programme interview with the United keeper from their game in 2001 at Swindon: “Nice ground, big pitch. Neil Ruddock had the biggest pair of shorts on I’d ever seen.

“Coloured boots were just starting to come into fashion. Gavin Williams had bought some white ones. Ruddock said to him in the tunnel: ‘You’d better be a bloody good player to wear them!’ Gav turned around and said: ‘Well you’ll soon see.

“Gav got the ball from a corner, chested it down and volleyed it in the top corner.”

Liked the way the scoreboard had HEREFORD in capital and Shrewsbury in lower case letters – a puny attempt at belittling your opposition.

Liked the way Bulls’ fans, when their own keeper Bittner took goal-kicks, went: “Woooooooaaah, you’re Bitt-nah!”

In fact there wasn’t anything to dislike.

Will Evans put Hereford ahead on three minutes and 20-year-old striker Ryan Bowman then evaded two defenders to blast a 25-yarder into the top right hand corner, after 12 minutes.

A brilliant goal – and by a non-league player too. After Gareth Bale‘s winner for Wales last month, the best I’ve seen this year.

If 2-0 sounds like game over, it wasn’t.

Shrews’ Jon Taylor and Jermaine Grandison were both a handful down the Hereford left and were causing panic.

A goal was pulled back from a Luke Summerfield free-kick, Shrews hit the post and Heath didn’t know much about one defensive header he nearly put into his own net.

It looked like a matter of time before an equaliser would emerge but Hereford upped their game after the break and it was all over when Bowman – who looks like one to watch – went down in the box. Didn’t look a penalty to me but he stepped up for 3-1 and there was no way back from that.

Well would you believe it?

Yes, Motty would’ve loved it.