Managed by England C team boss Paul Fairclough, the match gave him a chance to take a look at a number of non-league prospects from Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. For Herefordshire, it gave player-manager Rob Purdie a brief spell back in coaching, something he’s missed since retiring from football in the summer.
As for the game, in light of yesterday’s sad news that England’s World Cup winning goalkeeper had passed away at the age of 81, there was a minute’s silence held ahead of kick off as a mark of respect for Gordon Banks, as well as both teams donning black armbands.
Made of players from Hereford, Westfields, Lads Club, Wellington and Pegasus, the Herefordshire FA representative side forced Harvey Rivers into action within the opening ten minutes. James Roberts released Jamie Molyneux down the left wing and with the defence beaten had a shot on goal, but it was saved by the feet of the keeper. The ball then came back out to Roberts who also tried his luck, but Rivers was equal to the effort.
Hereford fans came close to witnessing John Mills score at Edgar Street again, but he drilled a penalty wide of the upright. In the 14th minute Will Christopher gave the ball away on the edge of his own box and let Mills through on goal, but Rivers brought down the Westfields loanee as he tried to claim the ball from his feet.
The opening goal came at the other end of the pitch as the FA XI tried to get a foothold in the game, going close with chances from Callum Powell in the moments before. In the 21st minute a corner swung in the from right was met with a free header from Redditch’s Shaquille Whittingham to break the deadlock.
The HFA weren’t trailing for long, with Kyle Finn being brought down just inside the area, referee Rob Massey-Ellis again pointed to the spot. With Mills missing the first spot kick, up-stepped Hereford’s James Roberts who made no mistake in planting the ball firmly past Harvey Rivers.
The FA weren’t without their fair share of chances during the first half, with a free taken being taken short before a shot being sent straight into the hands of Hill. 12 minutes from half time Bath’s Joe Raynes failed to control his free kick as he fired it well over the bar. Whittingham was close to grabbing a second as he got onto the end of right-back Will Christopher’s cross.
Half time: Herefordshire FA XI 1 – Football Association XI 1
Player-manager Rob Purdie made no changes to his side at the half time break, but their FA opponents made four substitutions including bringing on Evesham’s Andy Hannah in goal. The half didn’t get off to a great start for Hannah, conceding within the first two minutes. A low cross into the box to Jamie Molyneux saw him take a touch before firing across the keeper to put the home side ahead.
Jahquil Hill kept his side’s slender lead intact when he was able to keep Joe Raynes’ shot out, following some good work by Worcester’ George Forsyth to set him up. At the other end of the pitch it was Westfields’ James Roberts was unlucky not to score a second after turning Jamie Molyneux’s cross towards goal, but Robbie Cundy managed to get his foot to it.
Shaquille Whittingham had stood out for the FA throughout the 90 minutes, with two chances midway through the second half saw him blaze a first shot over the bar before creating an opportunity down the left which was saved by Hannah.
As the Herefordshire players started to tire, the FA grabbed an equaliser. George Forsyth’s free kick in the 80th minute clipped the wall, but the ball fell to substitute Ben Whitehead to slot past Hill. James Roberts could’ve scored a late winner for the hosts, but his shot from a tight angle seven minutes later was straight at the keeper.
Full time: Herefordshire FA XI 2 – Football Association XI 2
Herefordshire FA XI: Jahquil Hill, Sam Gwynne, Sam Rawlings, Theo Wharton, Ryan Green, Joel Edwards, Kyle Finn, Calvin Dinsley, John Mills, James Roberts, Jamie Molyneux.
Subs: Kane Kahaki, Sam Plane, Kalum Wildig, Rob Purdie, Paul Jones, Carlos Moreira
FA XI: Harvey Rivers, Will Christopher, Lewis Binns, Robbie Cundy, Finleigh Brown, George Forsyth, Joe Raynes, Henry Spalding, Kaiman Anderson, Callum Powell, Shaquille Whittingham.
Subs: Lewis Spalding, Andy Hannah, Dan King, Matt MacDonald, Ben Whitehead.