BRAVE Warrington Town came agonisingly close to pulling off a heroic fightback with nine men as they went down 2-1 to Hereford.
After an encouraging start to the game, it was turned on its head in a mad three minute spell when Connor Woods was sent off for a headbutt and then a mistake by goalkeeper Dan Atherton gifted Jason Cowley the opening goal.
Bohan Dixon then saw red for a second yellow card, but somehow despite their two-man disadvantage, the Yellows equalised before the break through Sean Williams’ penalty.
A defensive rearguard action ensued in the second half and it held out until the 77th minute, when Ethan Freemantle steered in Alex Bebos’ cross.
But the Yellows could have earned the most unlikely point in the dying stages when Isaac Buckley-Ricketts somehow failed to steer home Matt Grivosti’s cross right across the face of goal.
Up until the first red card on 24 minutes, the Yellows will have been encouraged by their display as they played football and took the game to the hosts.
It changed when Woods, pulled back by Tom Pugh on the counter attack, then squared up to the offender and after their heads met, the Hereford player threw himself to the ground and referee Liam Corbett pulled out his red card.
The Yellows had barely had chance to digest that when Atherton took a back pass from Andre Wisdom, beat one man but then let the ball run away from him instead of clearing it, which enabled Bebos to nip in, dispossess him and lay the ball off for Cowley to score in the empty net for 1-0.
But for Atherton, it could have been many more before the break as the Yellows almost fell apart. Dixon, earlier booked for brushing down Bebos, was sent off for a late challenge on Aurio Teixeira, saw them reduced to nine and Atherton had to be at his best to deny Yusifi Ceesay, who also hit the face of the post.
The best save came to deny Cowley what would have been a goal of the season contender, an overhead kick from Jack Tolley’s cross.
Somehow though, against the odds, the Yellows got an equaliser in first half stoppage time. Sean Williams took the ball a long way from half way when he had no right to, fed Josh Amis who was tripped in the box. Williams blasted home the spotkick and it was 1-1 at the break.
Mark Beesley, celebrating his birthday, introduced Jay Harris for his first league appearance to help marshal the rearguard action.
Hereford threw everything they had at the Yellows, only to find Atherton in imperious form, no doubt looking to atone for his earlier faux pas. His double save to deny Paul Downing’s long range shot and the subsequent Cowley rebound the pick.
But the pressure eventually told, the Yellows missing a chance to clear their lines and substitute Freemantle was able to sweep home from Bebos cross.
Despite everything, and having barely had the ball in the Hereford end, Buckley-Ricketts could have nabbed a point at the death after the Yellows had worked an opening at the end, the ball somehow getting stuck in the mud under his feet in the centre of goal barely four yards out.
The Yellows are next in action at home to Scarborough on Saturday.
Hereford: Pond, Skinner, Livingstone (Freemantle), Teixeira, Downing, Ceesay, Babos, Cowley, Pugh (Rooney), Tollwey (Arthur), Cameron. Unused subs: Southern, Howkins.
Warrington Town: Atherton, Walker, White, Hannigan, Woods, Williams, Amis (Grivosti), Dixon, Popoola (Harris), Buckley-Ricketts, Wisdom. Unused subs: Goudie, Gill, Bennett.