Hereford United 0 Colchester United 2

STAR man Mark Yeates was the inspiration for Colchester United's comfortable win over hosts Hereford, which confirmed relegation for League One's bottom club.

Carl Marston

Hereford United 0 Colchester United 2

STAR man Mark Yeates was the inspiration for Colchester United's comfortable win over hosts Hereford, which confirmed relegation for League One's bottom club.

Although not mathematically down before kick-off, the Bulls were without even a glimmer of hope due to a 12-point gap between themselves and safety, with just four games left and a terrible goal difference.

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Yeates rubbed salt into their wounds with a terrific cameo performance.

The Dubliner broke the deadlock in the 37th minute with his 12th goal of the season, thanks to another of his trademark free-kicks. He curled his shot from the left edge of the box, over the defensive wall, and into the top corner of the net.

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Five minutes later and Yeates masterminded the U's killer second goal. This time he delivered a deadly cross from the right flank that defender Dean Beckwith could only head past his own keeper for an own goal.

Two goals up and coasting before the break, the only surprise was that the U's did not increase their lead during a one-sided second half.

This was their 10th away league win of the season, an impressive ratio from 22 away fixtures.

U's boss Paul Lambert rung the changes again. There were recalls for full-backs Alan Maybury (playing in midfield) and Marc Tierney, who were rested last week, while front-runner Sunday Akanni-Wasiu was given a rare start.

Skipper Dean Hammond was suspended, while Clive Platt was again missing due to family reasons.

The U's were desperately close to taking the lead inside the first two minutes. Yeates, operating as a striker rather than a wide man, let fly with a 20-yard shot that beat keeper Gulacsi, only to cannon wide off the far post.

Despite the lack of atmosphere - there was a real end-of-season feel to the game - the visitors continued to look bright and Ashley Vincent nodded narrowly over from Yeates' fiercely struck free kick.

Hereford did not create anything of note until the 20th minute, when left-back Kris Taylor drilled a long-range shot just a foot past the far upright.

The U's had not built on their promising start, although centre-half Pat Baldwin was only just off target with an instinctive header from Yeates' 31st minute corner.

But six minutes later and Colchester went ahead, thanks to YEATES' wonder free-kick from 20 yards out. His curling effort never gave Gulacsi a chance, after Hereford right-back Sam Gwynne had fouled Wasiu on the left edge of the box.

And Yeates was also the architect of the U's second goal on 42 minutes. The Dubliner curled over a dangerous cross, from the right flank, which defender BECKWITH could only head into the roof of his own net.

The visitors could have added to their tally before the interval. Yeates almost scored his second of the game when his goal-bound drive was deflected wide off defender Josh Gowling, and Wasiu then headed past the near post from Yeates' ensuing corner.

The U's had completely dominated the last 10 minutes of this first half.

Half-time: Hereford United 0 Colchester United 2

It was much the same during the opening exchanges of the second period. Simon Hackney blazed over from distance, as did Yeates, while Bulls skipper Steve Guinan was booked for dissent just before the hour mark.

Wasiu was close to registering his third goal in a U's shirt. He turned impressively before firing a yard over the bar - most of the play continued to be in the Hereford half of the pitch.

Substitute Anthony Wordsworth replaced Hackney down the left flank on 70 minutes, and Hereford boss Graham Turner also made his three changes before the final quarter of the game.

Dean Gerken had been a virtual bystander for the whole afternoon, although he did prevent a downward header from Beckwith from sneaking into the net on 80 minutes.

Teenager Sam Corcoran made his first team debut as an 89th minute substitute. By then the game had been won.


HEREFORD UNTIED: GULACSI 7, Gwynne 5, Gowling 7, Beckwith 6, Taylor 6 (sub Rose, 46), Pugh 6 (sub Smith, 72), O'Leary 6 (sub Jones, 72), Diagouraga 6, Done 7, Myrie-Williams 5, Guinan 5. Unused subs: Macleod, Veiga.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, White 7 (sub Heath, 83), Coyne 7, Baldwin 7, Tierney 7, Vincent 6, Izzet 7, Maybury 6 (sub Corcoran, 89), Hackney 7 (sub Wordsworth, 70), YEATES 9, Wasiu 7. Unused subs: Trotman, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire) 7

Attendance: 2,100

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