Hereford FC lifted the County Challenge Cup for a third consecutive season at Edgar Street on Saturday afternoon. Two goals for marksman John Mills saw him reach his 40-goal target, with the other four goals coming from Jennison Myrie-Williams, Jordan Liburd, Mike Symons and Dara O'Shea.
At a hot and sunny Edgar Street, Hereford got the game underway attacking the Meadow End terrace in the first half. The Bulls were first to threaten with four minutes on the clock as John Mills showed the visitors his trademark chop, crossing the ball accurately to Lance Smith. But Smith’s flicked header narrowly cleared the crossbar as goalkeeper Steven Bell watched on.
Determined not to let the Evo-Stik South Premier champions get a foothold in the game, Lads Club broke forward which saw Adam Hockey play a neat ball through to Jordan Burke, but the Bulls were quick to regain control as Dara O’Shea won back possession just outside the area.
With 12 minutes gone, Hereford took the lead after the first corner of the game went their way. Rob Purdie’s inswinging delivery from the left was met with a viscous volley from the club’s top-scorer John Mills with the keeper well-beaten.
The Whites almost doubled their lead moments later with John Mills on the hunt for his 40th goal of the season, but his strike was straight at Bell.
Lads Club thought they’d got away without conceding in the 28th minute as Matt Muturi cleared Mills’ powerful strike off the line, but the rebound fell nicely for Jennison Myrie-Williams who made no mistake in rifling the ball home.
There was no let up for Lads Club’s defence as they continued to be bombarded by pressure from the Bulls. Firstly, Jordan Liburd rose to meet Rob Purdie’s corner with a combination of the keeper’s hands and crossbar denying him Hereford’s third.
Jennison Myrie-Williams was next to threaten, but his strike from the righthand side of the box was narrowly wide at the near-post as it hit the side-netting.
On the stroke of half time Lads Club defended well to keep the deficit at just two goals. Liam Jones headed Dara O’Shea’s cross behind as he made good progress from his right-back position, with the energetic Irish U19 International heading over from the resulting corner.
HT: Hereford 2 – Lads Club 0
As Lads Club got the second half underway, Adam Hockey’s determined run down the left wing earned his side a corner, but Hereford’s defence was well-organised with Ryan Green at its heart to deal with the danger.
Dara O’Shea continued to be in the thick of the action in front of goal as he had another chance to get his name on the scoresheet, but once again his header was off-target as he sent Rob Purdie’s corner wide at the far-post.
For Lads Club, they came close to taking advantage of Jordan Liburd defensive error in the 59th minute, but goalkeeper Martin Horsell raced off his line and beat Ashley Lear to the ball.
But it didn’t take long for Hereford to cause more problems as Jordan Liburd popped up with a powerful header thanks to a good free kick from specialist Rob Purdie, but it was to high to trouble Bell.
Liburd did manage to get his name on the scoresheet in the 65th minute though, tapping the ball home after being teed-up by fellow defender Cameron Pring.
With both sides making two changes, Mike Symons netted the Whites’ fourth ten minutes after replacing Lance Smith. Rob Purdie played the ball through to the advancing Symons who had little difficulty in side-footing the ball diagonally past the keeper.
John Mills had been eyeing 50 goals this season but reduced his target to 40 after a spell out injured. He reached his target with eight minutes left on the clock as he found the back of the net with a shot on the turn.
It was in the second minute of stoppage time that the Bulls added goal number six. Goalkeeper Steven Bell did well to prevent John Mills’ shot from going in, but not able to hold onto the ball, Dara O’Shea reacted quickly to stab the ball across the line.
Lads Club have had a busy few weeks dealing with fixture congestion and playing three times a week has quickly become the norm. They gave a good account of themselves but ultimately the fatigue, along with the gap in leagues, meant Hereford eased past to lift the County Cup for a third time.
FT: Hereford 6 – Lads Club 0
HFA MotM: Hereford’s Rob Purdie
Hereford: Horsell, O'Shea, Green, Liburd, Pring, Smith (Symons – 66’), McGrath (Haysham – 66’), Richards, Purdie, Mills, Myrie-Williams.
Subs not used: Deaman, Hayes.
Lads Club: Bell, Bowley (Fletcher – 70’), Maturi, Burke, Jones, Cuthberton, Lear (Lancett – 70’), Worthing, Cowley (Hill – 81’), Wildig, Hockey.
Subs: Godsall, Gwynne.
Hereford’s manager Pete Beadle was pleased with another piece of silverware, but was quick to give credit to Lads Club who did themselves proud in challenging conditions on Saturday.
Pete Beadle said: “Give credit to both sets of players first and foremost to keep going in that heat today was really hard work - it was hot just sat on the bench, so god knows what it was like for them out there.
“Both teams showed the difference in the leagues in where they are, but they also showed why they've been successful over the past couple of years. Lads Club have been extremely organised and showed a never-say-die attitude, which I'm sure Danny [Moon, Lads Club manager] will be really pleased about.
“Unfortunately they came up against a team which are just streets ahead of everyone at the moment.”
Runners-up Lads Club faced an uphill battle against tough opposition, and manager Danny Moon felt things might have been different if the score at half-time was only one-nill.
Danny Moon told the Hereford Times: "There was no excuses from us we have been well beaten in the second half and that's where we conceded the goals.
"You have got some good players in their who have won the league, the cup and going into the Conference and the gap between them is four leagues.
"The second goal before half-time killed it and if we could have gone in at 1-0 even though we haven't troubled their goalkeeper we needed to keep ourselves in the game and we conceded just at the wrong time.”