Heanor Town’s 100 per cent record in the Midland League was brought to an abrupt halt when their 10 men were eventually hammered 7-2 at home by new ‘phoenix’ club Hereford on Saturday.
It had been an exciting contest for the excellent 402 crowd in the first half as Heanor stayed with their visitors, trailing 3-2.
But they made life very hard for themselves just before the break when Ryan Booker was sent-off after he appeared to lash out at an opponent.
Home resistance was then crushed with two quickfire goals after a second penalty award of the day and two more goals in the last three minutes rubbed salt into the wounds for the Lions.
John Mills ended the afternoon with a hat-trick for the rampant Bulls while sub Nathan Hughes bagged a brace.
With Hereford starting the brighter of the two sides, in the seventh minute Pablo Heysham was upended by the last man after his darting run into the box. Mills stepped up and coolly dispatched the penalty past Heanor’s diving keeper.
Pablo Heysham then forced the goalkeeper into making a fine save three minutes later. Adam Page whipped in a cross from the left and Heysham’s powerful strike was acrobatically tipped over by Hannis.
The Bulls’ persistence paid off when they grabbed their second goal just shy of the quarter of an hour mark. After Jamie Hannis saved the initial shot by Mills, Page got on the end of the return ball before slotting it in just inside the upright.
In response to Hereford’s early goals, Heanor managed to pull one back after the restart through Kieran Debrouwer’s run into the box, where he had time to compose himself in front of goal before picking his spot.
Hereford regained their two goal cushion with 27 minutes on the clock. After winning possession in the heart of midfield, Mills broke forward into the danger area. Despite Page being available, Mills sidestepped his man before thundering the ball into the top right hand corner of Hannis’ net.
However, Heanor were not done and Cory Bowler and Nick Marriott combined effectively five minutes from half-time to reduce the deficit. Marriott’s cross to the feet of Bowler allowed him to send a low shot across the face of goal and into the back of Rivers’ net.
But just before the whistle came the turning point of the game. Heysham was fouled 25-yards out which resulted in the referee showing Booker a straight red after he appeared to lash out at a Hereford player.
After the break, Jay Cooper successfully picked a path through the Hereford defence, before his rasping shot from the edge of the area narrowly cleared Rivers’ crossbar.
But the away team began to make their extra man count, creating a string of chances, a Mills header hitting the underside of the bar.
It was all over when Heysham was brought down within the 18-yard box for a second time. Mills stepped up again to take the penalty, and in the same manner as before fired the ball into the roof of the net.
Then when Heanor’s young keeper Hannis punched away a Heysham cross, Nathan Hughes picked the ball up on the edge of the area and made no mistake in unleashing a shot which left the keeper well and truly beaten.
Three minutes from time, Heanor failed to defend as Mills cut in from the right, Hannis making a fine save from his powerful shot, before the ball took a deflection off Hall and past the despairing Heanor stopper for an own goal.
With seconds left Hereford youth teamer Carlos Moreira played a sublime ball through to Nathan Hughes, who was left with just the keeper to beat and had no trouble finding the back of the net.
This Saturday Heanor are at home to Bardon Hill (3pm).