Cheltenham Town had to settle for a draw in their second pre-season match ahead of 2019/20 as Hereford FC twice came from behind in a 2-2 stalemate at Edgar Street.
Will Boyle and George Lloyd both netted in the first half for the Robins either side of a Reece Styche goal for the hosts but a 53rd minute header from Jordan Cullinane-Liburd proved to be the final goal in a well-fought contest.
Manager Michael Duff started with most of the team that finished the game against Stratford Town in their first pre-season friendly at the weekend, with trialist Reece Cole and youth team defender Grant Horton included from the off.
Scott Flinders was called into action inside the third minute as Jordan Nicholson was set up for a strike just inside the penalty box after good work from Styche.
Recovering from a shaky start at the back, Cheltenham threatened with two successive corners as Ben Tozer twice headed wide – the second of which he was left unmarked from Cole’s delivery.
Bulls’ keeper Brandon Hall’s then made an impressive save to deny Luke Varney after Boyle kept the ball alive from a set-piece and Ryan Broom put a teasing cross into the penalty area.
At the other end, Flinders made a routine save in denying Rowan Liburd from a tight angle as the match ticked over to the 15-minute mark.
Duff’s side did make their next corner count though as Cole’s low delivery in the 19th minute caused problems for the home defence and although both Varney and Tozer failed to control the ball, Boyle found space to fire into the back of the net with his favoured left foot.
Cheltenham were starting to play with more confidence after the goal as Chris Clements set Josh Debayo away down the left flank and Varney swivelled to shoot just wide of the target.
The Bulls did break away in the 32nd minute and Liburd took the ball around Flinders but youngster Horton, who was playing well on the right of a back three, cleared just in front of the goal-line as Liburd’s final effort lacked power.
Varney then very nearly finished a slick move through the middle of the pitch as Tozer lofted a pass into Cole, who then volleyed into the path of the 36-year-old, but his shot narrowly missed the target again.
Hereford equalised four minutes before the break though as well-travelled forward Styche advanced in on goal and coolly chipped over Flinders to bring the Vanarama National League North outfit level – but not for long.
Duff’s side restored their lead right at the end of the half as former Bulls’ loanee Lloyd tapped into an empty net after Clements and Varney were denied by Hall.
Jordan Cullinane-Liburd headed a cross over the bar shortly after the interval, but he scored with his next attempt, nodding in a corner at the back post as Cheltenham left him unmarked in the 53rd minute as Hereford drew level again.
Duff made a further six changes in the 66th minute and Jacob Jagger-Cane came close to putting Marc Richards’ side into the lead for the first time shortly afterwards, slicing wide and Styche the hit the post with a spectacular swerving effort minutes later.
The visitors found chances few and far between in the second half but Rohan Ince came close to setting Tahvon Campbell away and Alex Addai had the ball in the net after a clever move, but it was flagged offside as the match finished level ahead of Cheltenham’s next friendly at home to Premier League side Leicester City.
HEREFORD: Hall (Gk), Pope, Riley, Thomas, Cullinane-Liburd, Gowling, Nicholson, Maye, Liburd, Styche, Trialist. Subs: Powell (Gk), Davies, Symonds, Jagger-Cane, Finn, Bishop, Kamillo.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk) (Lovett 66), Long (Chamberlain 66), Cole, Tozer (Bowry 66), Thomas (Ince 46), Broom (Clements 27) (Annear 75), Boyle (Raglan 46), Debayo (Brennan 66), Lloyd (Addai 66), Varney (Campbell 66), Horton. Subs not used: Lawrence.
ATTENDANCE: 648 (66 from Cheltenham)