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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 20, 2006

Hereford return to Football League after play-off drama

Hereford staged a remarkable comeback to snatch extra-time victory over Halifax and end their nine-year exile from the Football League in a dramatic Nationwide Conference play-off final.

The Bulls battled from behind twice in normal time to keep their promotion hopes alive before Ryan Green's 108th-minute goal settled a five-goal thriller at Leicester's Walker Stadium.

Chris Killeen had handed Town the ideal start as he opened the scoring in fine style midway through the first half before Andy Williams headed the sides level shortly before the interval.

Substitute John Grant appeared to have won the game for Town at the expense of his former club, before Guy Ipoua snatched a late equaliser to send the game into extra time.

Killeen looked lively throughout and he set the tone for a bright opening as he prodded a low effort wide from 12 yards with barely 90 seconds gone.

Town, marshalled in defence by experienced defender Peter Atherton, continued to control the early exchanges with Killeen again threatening.

The former Sheffield United player linked up with fellow striker Ryan Sugden before drilling his shot firmly at goalkeeper Wayne Brown from just inside the penalty.

The Shaymen were relentless in attack as Danny Forrest clipped the top of the crossbar with a scuffed shot from less than six yards out while, at the other end, goalkeeper Jon Kennedy palmed Craig Stanley's looping 20-yard effort over.

Halifax's early endeavour was rewarded with the opening goal when Killeen latched on to a wayward clearance and, from fully 25 yards, dispatched a fine effort which crashed past the hapless Brown and into the top right corner.

The Town striker's fine opener only served to spark Turner's men into action and they found themselves back on level terms with 33 minutes gone as Adam Stansfield's neat cross was headed past Kennedy by the outstretched Williams.

Hereford appeared galvanised after the restart and Stansfield nearly turned goalscorer nine minutes into the second period, as he surged past a clutch of Halifax defenders but could only blast the ball at Kennedy from an acute angle.

On the hour mark, Stansfield flashed a close-range header wide while Matt Doughty curled over from 10 yards at the other end, as both sides frantically pushed for the winner.

With fatigue clearly affecting his players, Town boss Chris Wilder opted to introduce striker John Grant at the expense of Sugden and the former Hereford man scored with virtually his first touch of the game as he flicked Killeen's near-post cross past Brown.

Halifax's joy was shortlived, though, as gutsy Hereford again drew level with 10 minutes left as substitute Ipoua rose well to steer Simon Travis' inswinging cross home from eight yards out and sent the game into extra time.

With little to separate the sides the tie looked destined to be settled by penalties, but Green had other ideas.

The former Wolves trainee cut in from the right flank and calmly stroked the ball past the outstretched Kennedy from just inside the area to complete a stunning fightback.