Hereford boss Richard O'Kelly tries to keep things calm

Richard O'Kelly

Hereford United manager Richard O'Kelly is trying to play down the pressure at Edgar Street as the Bulls battle to avoid a return to the Conference.

It is 15 years since a home defeat by Brighton last cost the club their place in the Football League.

If Barnet win at home to Wimbledon on Saturday and the Bulls fail to win at Crawley, they will be relegated again.

But O'Kelly warned: "If you build up a game too much, you can put too much unnecessary pressure on people."

The Bulls boss, who was given 12 games to try and save Hereford from the drop when he replaced Jamie Pitman in early March, has found it a tall order.

After picking up an encouraging four points from his first two games in charge, the Bulls then lost their next four.

They have at least proved hard to beat over the last four, drawing three of them - and that has instilled fresh belief that Hereford could yet hold onto the place in the league that they have held since Graham Turner led them back up via the Conference play-offs in 2006.

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'We must be wary of the hype' - O'Kelly

However, even if Hereford stay alive this Saturday, they then still have to face another promotion-chasing side, Torquay United, in their final game at Edgar Street on Saturday week.

O'Kelly knows his immediate task at the Broadfield Stadium is to try and ensure that his team concentrate on the job in hand against a Crawley side, who will be experiencing pressures of their own.

The Red Devils, only promoted to the league last season and now under the temporary command of Craig Brewster following manager Steve Evans' sudden defection to Rotherham earlier this month, could have the chance to win automatic promotion in front of their own fans - if they win and Torquay lose at home to Crewe.

"You could look at it that it's two of the most important games in the history of the club," O'Kelly told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "Or you could look at it as just another two games.

"There's always pressure. Crawley have something to play for too, which should make for a great game and a fantastic occasion.

"But, as competitors, if you prepare properly, whether it's a game of tiddlywinks or Monopoly, you should want to go out and win it.

"As footballers, that competitive nature is in-built. And over the last four or five weeks we have had good spells in every game.

"In some of those good spells we haven't scored and the other side of that is when you are having your bad times, you make sure you don't concede.

"The aspect of making sure you score in your good times could be very important in the next two games."

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