Redditch 1 – 1 Hereford U18
With no U16 team to draw upon and the two-year college and football full time option still under discussion, this seasons Community U18 squad augmented their numbers by adding talent previously with clubs like Malvern, Cinderford and the Paul Parry Academy. Happily, at least ten of the squad previously played for the Hereford FC Youth set up at some time before its abrupt shutdown. Remarkably 3 of the squad who joined at the age of 8 can claim to have played for both Hereford FC and Hereford United. That’s proper continuity.
Head coach Zeke must have torn some hair out in his efforts to field a team for this game. There were young men on holidays, or suspended or injured such as Captain Ryan Price. Three would-be recruits still need international clearance. It is the Welsh FA, after all. There was even a covid victim. Of course.
In the end, the Bulls could field a youthful team with just 2 substitutes though two of them were not yet 16. Only three of the group were natural defenders. Rolling subs are the norm at this level so the visitors were disadvantaged. They were further handicapped when one of their senior players limped off early. Now there were twelve.
Still, our young second team dominated the first half, earning 6 corners to the visitors none. Hereford took the lead when Callum Gwillim received an astute through ball and neatly beat the goalkeeper. Redditch were sometimes aggressive in their approach, not least when their big striker Taylor was sent off after 34 minutes for violent conduct.
To their credit (and they deserve much of it as they were great hosts to the Radio Hereford team), the home side reorganised and made use of their 4 rolling subs. The Hereford back four were regularly under pressure after the interval but were coping fine only to concede an own goal from a corner.
Although having more bodies on the pitch, the Hereford attack tried and failed to beat the home defence. They used many long balls but the larger and more wise central Redditch central defenders were always in the right place at the right time. There was brief hope when their defender Henry Smith was sinbinned for dissent near the end but with several of our youngsters going down with cramp, they could not take advantage of the situation.
Still with so much more talent to be added to the squad, potential is bright. My man of the match was left back Nye Bennett, Captain for the night who was so assured with his play.
Next game is the big one – FA Youth Cup tie at Coton Green FC on September 1. Radio Hereford will be covering the game.
Hereford: Atkinson, Measor, Bennett, Thompson, Thomas, Davies, Groves, Johnstone, Mee, Jenkins, Gwillim initial subs Kiela, Lloyd.