A good day in Manchester

A good day today in Manchester. As some of you will be aware, I am an admirer of FCUM. This may be Hereford’s last visit for a while so I forked out for a hospitality package. Indulgent but really excellent value, enhanced by the warmth of the hospitality team. Perhaps helped by me signing up to be a FC club member. “You’ll have mixed emotions this afternoon ” wisely observed Pete in the Club Office. Without prompting, fc suggested seats in the disabled areas, which just happen to have the best view in the house. Ta muchly. So good that I could observe from above that a prominent Hereford supporter had a bald patch. Not spotted it before so decided to share that knowledge with him by pm.

Thanks to segregation (advised by the local Police apparently) this was the only way I was going to enter FC’s delightful bar and eaterie at the back of the main stand. No Broadhurst Ale today but the Holts was decent enough. Much to my surprise, I found myself in conversation with the FC United manager, who considered it part of his job to meet everyone in hospitality. Fortunately, I had just enough knowledge of his squad to ask halfway intelligent questions. Notice how at the end of the game, he was on the pitch to shake the hands of every Hereford player. There’s a guy who wants to make an impression.

Reynolds is rallying his troops as best he can. They are in last chance saloon at best. At worst, they are already dead and buried, (The elephant in their room is what punishment they will receive for breaking FA rules on international clearance.) Selling “dead and buried” to the fourth largest support in the Division isn’t very palatable. In return for increasing their average gate to back a club with only one home win all season, absolute effort and work rate is demanded from their players and no surrender is permitted.

Last home game, FC recovered from 3-1 to draw 3-3. Last Saturday backed by a sold-out away end at Southport (1,400) their team scrapped out a draw. Whisper it quietly, neither result is quite good enough but not losing retains hope and leaves some straws to grasp.

I mention this merely to illustrate how badly the home side wanted to win today. And how much effort and how many different tactics they invested to find a way through the Bulls. Overcoming scrapping relegation-threatened clubs is hard work as Chorley will agree. And Step 2 South leaders Torquay who lost to bottom club Weston SM today.

I’d not seen Hereford for a few weeks and I was impressed. (“After Albion’s miserable showing at Elland Road, you’d be impressed by anything, I hear you cry…”) To an extent yes, but the Bulls had much to commend them. They recovered from conceding from a rebound to demonstrate spatial awareness, deft footwork and team spirit. There was much intelligence in their attacking play and much as the United back four hurled themselves around, gaps were still found. I thought we had got the job done and the game secure. FC threw everybody forward and we were largely dealing with their threat until that horribly deflected very late free kick.

Painful at the time, I went on to reflect we did enough. We stopped FCUM from winning and with Ashton and Guiseley both losing winnable games, we’re a step nearer confirming our place in Step 2 next season. Of course we want more. Every club does but we have to learn this level. There isn’t too much wrong with being unbeaten in 6 away games.

Simon Wright

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