Football / FA Cup First Round: Pike settles the issue

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The Independent Online
Cambridge City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Hereford United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

CAMBRIDGE CITY were five minutes away from securing a fully deserved replay at Edgar Street when Chris Pike headed the goal which decided this first-round tie at a windswept Milton Road yesterday.

City were denied a return to the home of their former Southern League rivals because the previously unimpressive Pike was left unmarked at the far post to head in a rare accurate cross from the Hereford winger, Max Nicholson.

'We more than matched them, but they had the luck,' said Steve Fallon, City's player- manager, who played over 400 games for Cambridge United.

The Beazer Homes League side's FA Cup record is nothing to boast about: yesterday was their first appearance in the first round proper since 1966, and their first home cup tie against a Football League club. But Hereford, third from bottom of the Third Division, were hardly an advertisement for the professional game.

Although their little-and- large back-line partnership - the lanky Kevan Smith and their player-manager, Greg Downs - both had fine games, their most reliable defensive tactic was the offside trap.

The swirling wind disrupted the first-half play, with neither side able to create any flowing football. The first half-chance did not arrive until the 20th minute when City's left-back, Mark Scott, swung in a free- kick from the touchline and, after a neat lay-off from the 36- year-old Gary Grogan, Steve Gawthrop shot just wide.

The visitors' best chance of the first 45 minutes came when a deep cross from Smith dropped over the home defence to an unmarked Pike, but the former Cardiff centre-forward lifted his shot woefully high and wide.

Nine minutes after the interval, the part-timers came close to taking the lead. Fallon's long clearance found the left winger Paul Coe, who outpaced Downs and charged into the penalty area. But with only Alan Judge to beat he shot into the side-netting.

Gawthrop, strong and determined throughout, turned and shot wide when a Tovey free- kick found him unmarked, but four minutes later came Pike's decisive intervention.

Cambridge City (1-4-2-3): Murray; Fallon (Goddard, 86); Pincher, Gawthrop, Beattie, Scott; Tovey, Wilkin; Ryan, Grogan, Coe. Substitutes not used: Pope, Piggott (gk).

Hereford United (1-3-3-3): Judge; Downs; Clark, Smith, Anderson; Fry, Reece, Hall; Pickard, Pike, Nicholson. Substitutes not used: Morris, Abraham, Thomas (gk).

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).

(Photograph omitted)