For the second year running, Hereford will meet Lads Club in the County Challenge Cup final after they beat Ewyas Harold 7-0 on Tuesday evening. Ewyas Harold got the game underway attacking the Meadow End terrace in the first half, with the travelling supporters quick to get on the back of the home side. The first real threat from Hereford came in the 6th minute after left-back James Bowen made a quick break down the wing. After feeding the ball through to Lance Smith, he was dispossessed as he broke into the box with the opportunity coming to nothing more than a fruitless corner.
The Bulls then started to ramp up the pressure as Jamie Cuss’ effort was cleared off the line after stabbing Lance Smith’s parried shot towards goal. Another chance followed for Jamie Cuss, but once again he couldn’t find the back of the net as his shot was met with a decent save by visiting keeper Mike Bamborough.
It was a case of third time lucky for Cuss as in the 9th minute he opened the scoring after getting onto the end of a loose ball in the box and firing home. Three minutes later Lance Smith doubled Hereford’s lead, heading past Bamborough following a good ball forward from Eliot Richards.
Ewyas Harold called Hereford’s stopper Will Puddy into action on the quarter of an hour mark, but Curtis Bound’s tame shot from close-range was easily gathered by the former Bristol Rovers man.
Depsite the chance for Ewyas Harold, just a minute later it was 3-0 to the Evo-Stik South Premier outfit. Jamie Bird played the ball through to Mike McGrath who had little difficulty in rifling.
In the 32nd minute Jamie Bird got his name on the scoresheet with Hereford stringing together a number of passes in the build up. Bird burst forward and connected well with Jamie Cuss’ ball into the centre of the box and found the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
On the stroke of half time Mike McGrath forced the keeper into making a diving save as he tried his luck from a free kick, but from the resulting corner captain Jack Deaman made it five. As the corner came in from the left, Mark Cooper headed out as far as Eliot Richards, whose powerful ball into the box was flicked on into the back of the net by Deaman.
HT: Hereford 5 – Ewyas Harold
At the start of the second half lady luck was on the visitors’ side as the bar and a sprawling defender prevented a sixth. Lance Smith’s initial shot smashed against the bar before Mike Symons’ follow up shot was cleared off the line.
The sixth goal followed though as Hereford’s Eliot Richards got his first goal of the evening. An unstoppable shot was fired towards goal from outside the area after bursting forward. Richards then netted his second as he found the bottom corner after being teed up by Mike Symons.
Just before being replaced by Joey Watkins, Jake Cleeves had an effort on goal for Ewyas Harold, but his long-range strike turned out to be a routine save for Will Puddy.
In the 71st minute Mike Symons struck the post for the before substitute Cameron Pring's cross was headed against the upright and fell nicely to the keeper.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, two chances for Mike Symons couldn’t futher extend the host’s lead as the first was met with a decent save from the keeper before the second was poked just wide.
FT: Hereford 7 – Ewyas Harold 0
Depsite the somewhat unflattering score-line, Mike Bamborough between the sticks for Ewyas Harold made a number of decent saves throughout the course of the game. The County League side did themselves proud, but came up against a strong Hereford side made up of mainly first team players. Ewyas Harold's manager is eager for the Edgar Street club to continue participating in the competition.
Malcolm Watkins said that having the Bulls in the Cup injects some magic into it for the small teams involved.
Watkins said: "We'd love them to keep entering! We can respect their decision to maybe not to in the future where they've got other priorities, but being part of the Herefordshire County Cup and giving that bit of magic.
"For teams like us this was a magic moment for us. I sat and watched the draw on Facebook and I made the suggestion to do it [live] on Facebook and get that excitement going.
"I was sat at home watching it and it was a dream. It would be great if they could stay committed to it."
Watkins' thoughts were echoed by assistant manager Dave Hope who said it's a great opportunity to play at Edgar Street.
"Loyalties towards other leagues when they go up through the system means they're going to have a higher fixture rate and we understand that.
"But it's great for us as local lads to come here and bring a team out against Hereford because we don't have the chance to do that very often, and maybe never again, so it's fantastic for us."
Hereford's gaffer said that the Bulls have a future in the competition and it's an important part of being a community club.
Pete Beadle said: "It's an important competition because it's Herefordshire's County Cup competition and we're part of that.
"We like to think we're part of the community, and it's not that we give opportunities, but it's a cup competition and one that we take seriously. We can sometimes field maybe not as strong a team as we would need to, but it's important.
"It's an important part of our football. We're part of the Herefordshire FA and it's important that we continue to play a big part in this competition."