Football: Palpitations send O'Neill into psychological warfare

Hereford United 0 Leicester City 0
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The Independent Online
A STILL darkness had fallen on the scene of an encounter that replenished our faith in the old competition as the team managers relaxed with a glass of Australian red, exchanged pleasantries, and indulged in a little psychological jousting.

"Thanks for the shirts," Graham Turner, chairman, director of football, coach and general factotum of Hereford United said after his players raided the Leicester dressing room for mementoes of a momentous occasion.

"A pleasure," Martin O'Neill replied, relieved that his Premiership side had not paid a heavier price for their uncomfortable second-half ride.

Turner confided that he felt his team's chance had probably gone when 19-year-old Paul Parry scythed through the Leicester defence and hit a post. "I wish you'd told me," said O'Neill, who suffered palpitations to the end.

"Your lads had the right attitude," Turner went on. "We had Spurs here four years ago and they almost laid down. It was only Campbell who kept them in it. Your lads were different."

"Losing to Arsenal last week the way we did was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened from your point of view," O'Neill replied.

"The money from the replay will be useful," Turner said. "That's why we can afford the wine! The tie should be yours now." O'Neill's eyebrows and senses shot up. "Oh yes! Should we settle for a nice 3-2 now?"

But Turner is not about to throw in the towel. O'Neill should negotiate the replay.

Parry's control, pace and impudence demonstrated an unlikely dimension to Hereford's game. Little wonder he is expected to bring in the next significant transfer fee to help offset a debt of pounds 1.3m. The regulation qualities were in evidence, too: the combative, probing midfield influence of John Snape; the unflinching resilience of the back line; the scrambling defiance of the goalkeeper, Mark Jones, brother of Southampton's Paul.

Despite an early bombardment of corners, a goal for Leicester would have been a wretched injustice. Hereford were entitled, at the very least, to dream on.

Hereford (4-4-2): Jones; Lane, Wright, James, Sturgess; Williams, Taylor, Snape, Parry; Elmes, Fewings (Rodgerson, 79). Substitutes not used: Wall, Siddaway (gk), Clarke, May.

Leicester City (3-5-2): Flowers; Sinclair (Walsh, 7), Elliott, Taggart; Impey, Savage, Lennon, Izzet, Guppy; Heskey, Cottee. Substitutes not used: Gilchrist, Oakes, Zagarkis, Hodges (gk).

Referee: L Deane (Merseyside).

Bookings: Hereford: Snape, Williams.

Man of the match: Snape.

Attendance: 7,795.