A THUMPING header from Aaron Downes completed an undefeated pre-season campaign for the Gulls after Saturday's 1-0 success at Hereford.
In truth, however, the Gulls needed a super display from Martin Rice to secure the win over a Hereford side who played with impressive zip and purpose.
In that context, United manager Alan Knill will be delighted with the resilience of his team, who also overcame the mild disappointment of a missed penalty from Billy Bodin just prior to the Downes winner.
Knill had two interesting inclusions on his team-sheet, with trialist defender Jack Deaman playing the first half. He was then replaced by former Nott County centre-back, Krystian Pearce, who has agreed personal terms with the Yellows.
The early exchanges saw some lively work from winger Niall Thompson but that was countered by Hereford flank-man Danny Pilkington causing similar problems, although Dan Walker was the first home player to force a Rice save.
The Bulls came forward again on 18 minutes and when Kevin Nicholson blocked a Walker shot, Pilkington blazed the rebound over but the next home shot from Josh O’Keefe led to a fine tip wide by Rice.
United’s best opening of the first period arrived on 35 minutes, when a Jordan Chapell cross picked out the head of Thompson, but he was unable to find the target. While on the subject of speedy wide players, former Gull Daniel Leadbitter played the full game for Hereford.
Rice saved his best for the closing seconds of the half, superbly turning over a Michael Rankine strike after more good work on the wing from Pilkington.
The second-half saw a huge number of changes and United looked more comfortable in possession as the Bulls slowly ran out of steam.
Bodin’s chance from the spot arrived on 67 minutes when Hereford goalkeeper Rhys Evans was judged to have hauled down Elliot Benyon, but the home stopper made perfect amends with an excellent save from the penalty.
No matter for United, as Courtney Cameron forced a corner and Downes rose highest to power home the delivery by Lee Mansell in a goal typical of the Australian defender’s presence at set-pieces.
There was still time for Rice to make one more block from a Hereford free-kick but United held on for the win that takes us happily into the League 2 opener with Wimbledon next weekend.
United [4-4-2]: Martin Rice; Dale Tonge [Jake Hutchings], Jack Deaman [Krystian Pearce], Aaron Downes [Kirtys Mackenzie], Kevin Nicholson [Thomas Cruise]; Niall Thompson [ Courtney Cameron], Lee Mansell [Nathan Craig], Ben Harding [Damon Lathrope], Jordan Chapell [Daniel Sullivan]; Billy Bodin, Elliot Benyon [Ashley Yeoman].