National League North: Curzon Ashton 2-0 Hereford
Curzon Ashton made it five games unbeaten and four clean sheets in-a-row with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hereford at the Tameside Stadium.
The game hinged on a crucial 30 second period only three minutes in, when goalkeeper Cameron Mason brilliantly denied Hereford’s Jordan Nicholson and the Nash went straight up the other end to win a penalty.
Sean Miller converted the spot kick and the advantage was doubled before the half hour mark when Charlie Jolley blasted home from a tight angle.
That lead proved unassailable as Curzon cruised through the second half without their goal coming under major threat, moving above Kettering Town and Kidderminster Harriers into 18th position in the process.
Mark Bradshaw made two changes from the side which was held to a goalless draw by Kettering on Monday night. With Mo Ali away on international duty with Somalia, Andy Halls came into the centre of defence while Mike Calveley also returned to the team at the expense of Isaac Sinclair.
A rapid start to the game saw Hereford twice come close to taking the lead in the opening three minutes. Firstly, through Reece Styche who saw his header drop just wide, but the better chance fell for Jordan Nicholson who found space behind the Curzon defence to sprint onto a through ball.
One-on-one with Mason, Nicholson lacked the required composure and Curzon’s number one pulled off a great save low to his left.
Immediately, the Nash launched a counter-attack and when Miller’s shot was blocked by the arm of Hereford captain Jared Hodgkiss, referee Adam Herczeg wasted no time in pointing to the spot. Miller took the penalty himself and calmly dispatched it into the bottom corner for his seventh goal of the season.
Curzon never lost their grip of the game after that moment: the visitors struggled to cope with the pressure on the ball exerted by the hosts and their sloppy play from the back cost them another goal after 27 minutes.
Robbie Evans – superb throughout – relentlessly chased down three Hereford players and the resultant clearance cannoned off his back and into the path of Jolley. The on-loan Wigan Athletic striker still had plenty of work to do as he bore down on goal and he gave the keeper no chance with a ferocious shot into the far corner.
Halls came close to scoring his second goal for the club when his header was cleared off the line and Jolley twice nearly capitalised on some short Hereford back passes as Curzon threatened to run riot.
Mason had to be called into action again late in the half when he did well to palm away Nicholson’s deflected effort to preserve the Nash’s two-goal lead going into half time.
The second half was a quieter affair as Curzon protected their lead in comfortable fashion. Mason made one good block from Peter Vincenti, but the back three of Halls, Danny Shaw and Nicky Wroe dealt well with everything the woefully out-of-form Hereford had to offer.
A run of five straight home matches has seen Curzon hit form at just the right time. 10 league points and an FA Trophy win over Kidderminster has been the result and it’s now been 423 minutes since the Nash last conceded a goal. They go into next week’s cup tie away to National League side AFC Fylde in confident mood.
By Sam Hendry
Picture by: @biddleofnowhere (Charlie Jolley celebrates after scoring the second)