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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Bristol City 2-1 Hartlepool
Bristol City players celebrate reaching the play-off final
(Agg 3-2 to Bristol City)

Late goals from Marc Goodfellow and Christian Roberts sent Bristol City into the play-off final after battling Hartlepool seemed set for an upset win.

A quiet first half sprang to life when Adam Boyd hit the post and Roberts fired wide at the other end.

City pressed after the break but were stunned when Anthony Sweeney superbly headed in an Eifion Williams cross.

The home side then poured forward and were rewarded when Goodfellow headed in and Roberts powered through to win it.

Bristol City finished a point off the second automatic promotion place, but they knew from the first game that Hartlepool - with the best away record in Division Two - would not make things easy for them.

But, after a quiet opening, it needed a last-ditch clearance from Michael Nelson to prevent City from taking the lead in the 16th minute.

Lee Peacock controlled the ball and crossed towards Roberts, who would have had a simple tap-in at the far post but for Nelson's intervention.

Hartlepool hit back and Sweeney almost stunned the home crowd two minutes later when his 18-yard header from a superb Hugh Robertson cross went just wide.

Tempers flared when Tony Butler appeared to stamp on Richie Humphreys, but the City defender was lucky Premiership referee Graham Poll's view of the incident was blocked.

City then suffered a blow when top scorer Peacock, who had twisted his ankle earlier, was replaced by winger Scott Murray after 30 minutes and Tony Rougier was pushed up alongside Roberts.

KEY MOMENTS
40 mins: Boyd hits the post
63 mins: Sweeney heads home
88 mins: Goodfellow levels for City
90 mins: Roberts snatches victory

With the first half drifting to an end, Boyd and Roberts came close to giving the game a goal it desperately needed.

First Boyd latched on to a long ball forward and battled his way towards the edge of the area before firing in a shot which rebounded off the post.

Almost immediately, Roberts had even more time and space at the other end after a Rougier knockdown but drove an 18-yard effort wide when he should have done better.

Pools were nearly gifted a goal after the interval when Danny Coles' firmly hit backpass went just wide of the far post, with Steve Phillips just about keeping it in play.

A goal finally arrived when Williams' curling cross was met by a sweet header from Sweeney and silence fell around the majority of Ashton Gate.

Hartlepool were forced into a reshuffle in the last 20 minutes when Micky Barron went off with what looked to be a broken nose after Craig Woodman's cross smashed into his face.

That appeared to unsettle Hartlepool and Roberts went close with a turn and shot, while Tinkler panicked into clearing the ball from his own goalkeeper's hands.

Danny Wilson went for broke in the last 10 minutes when he threw on Leroy Lita for Butler and Rougier should have done better when the ball fell to him in the box, but he dragged his shot wide.

It took another great headed clearance from Nelson to deny Murray but substitute Goodfellow hauled City back into the tie when he headed home an inviting Roberts cross in style.

City were now on fire and Murray's lob went just over the bar with under two minutes left and the crowd finally in full voice.

With time running out Roberts broke brave Hartlepool's hearts when he forced his way through and beat Provett.


Bristol City: Phillips, Carey, Butler (Lita 82), Coles, Hill, Rougier, Doherty, Tinnion, Woodman (Goodfellow 73), Peacock (Murray 31), Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Stowell, Wilkshire.

Booked: Roberts.

Hartlepool: Provett, Barron (Clarke 72), Nelson, Westwood (Danns 65), Robertson, Eifion Williams, Tinkler, Sweeney, Humphreys, Boyd, Porter (Paul Robinson 89).
Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Strachan.

Booked: Boyd.

Attendance: 18,434.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).





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