DAVE CHALLINOR shed tears of joy when Hartlepool returned to the Football League after a dramatic play-off penalty shoot-out win over Torquay.
On a day of remarkable goalkeeper scoring heroics it was Brad James who made a stunning spot-kick save from Gulls substitute Matt Buse at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate.
Hartlepool are back in the Football League after an epic shoot-out win over TorquayCredit: Getty
Torquay keeper Lucas Colovan scored an injury-time equaliser against HartlepoolCredit: Getty
The Brazilian headed home in the fifth minute of additional time to take it to extra-time – but it was not enough as Hartlepool won on penaltiesCredit: PA
That secured a place in League Two for Pools – although there were angry scenes after the final whistle as fans clashed after invading the pitch.
But the match will also be remembered for a sensational stoppage time goal from Torquay’s Brazilian ‘keeper Lucas Covolan which took the match into extra time.
Sadly Pools fans marred their team’s success after the final whistle by racing onto the pitch to taunt the United fans and several beer cans were thrown.
Some fans from the North East could be seen winding up Torquay’s players, with their on-loan Sunderland forward Benji Kimpioka among those involved in confrontations.
And he allegedly reacted furiously by throwing an object towards an individual who had provoked him.
But after the pitch was cleared by the police a delighted Challinor said: “I knew regardless of the outcome I would be crying-but I didn’t know whether it was going to be tears of joy or depression.
“It feels amazing because when I started out I wanted to be a Football League manager and I’m massively delighted and made up for the players.”
But it was touch and go when Covolan, who once played against Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker in their young Brazilian days, headed an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time.
Soccer Saturday star and Hartlepool president Jeff Stelling was in attendance at Bristol CityCredit: Rex
There were angry scenes after the game as fans clashed on the pitchCredit: PA
James blamed himself for Covolan’s goal but made up for it in the shoot-out which Pools eventually won 5-4 after both teams missed their opening two spot-kicks.
The goalkeeper said: “Credit to the lads-they dug me out of a hole because had I stayed on my line I would have saved it.
“If we had lost I would ‘t have slept for a week but it was a roller coaster of emotions out there and thankfully I went the right way for the penalty.”
Pools had gone ahead through Luke Armstrong on 34 minutes after he had seen one shot deflected over the bar and a diving header pushed around the post by Covolan.
But after Rhys Oates’s shot was blocked in the box, the Salford loanee turned two defenders to rifle a shot high into the net.
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