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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Play-off joy for Cheltenham
Lee Williams celebrates his equaliser for Cheltenham
Lee Williams celebrates his equaliser for Cheltenham
Cheltenham 1-1 Hartlepool
(2-2 on aggregate; 5-4 on penalties)

Cheltenham secured a place in the Division Three play-off final by winning a controversial penalty shoot-out against Hartlepool.

Ritchie Humphreys missed the crucial spot-kick for Hartlepool, but his effort appeared to have crossed the line after bouncing down off the crossbar.

The sides had finished locked at 1-1 on the night, and 2-2 on aggregate, after extra-time.

It was a third consecutive play-off defeat for Hartlepool and the result was hard on them after they had dominated long periods of the game.

Defender Paul Arnison, who came into the Pool line-up in place of Mark Robinson, drilled a low shot under the keeper to put his side ahead in the 17th minute.

Williams equalised with a spectacular 25-yard pile-driver less than 10 minutes later.

But neither side could go on and get the crucial second goal.

Eifion Williams spurned a golden chance to put Hartlepool back in front in the 57th minute.

Gordon Watson cut the ball back for the Welshmen but he blazed over the crossbar from six yards out with only the keeper to beat.

Defender Arnison, who had scored his first of the season earlier in the game, tried his luck from distance with another clean strike in the 75th minute but Steve Book grasped his shot at the second attempt.

There were no other clear opportunities in the 90 minutes and the game went into extra-time.

Cheltenham dominated the first period and Neil Grayson came close with a header.

Both sides scored their first spot kick but Stephenson blazed over the crossbar with Hartlepool's second.

Mike Duff put the Robins fourth effort wide of the post, leaving the scores all-square and it was down to Humphreys, who had the misfortune of being the villain for the visitors.


Cheltenham: Book, Griffin, Duff, Walker, Victory, Williams, Yates, Finnigan, Milton, Alsop, Naylor. Subs: Grayson, Devaney, Howarth, Muggleton, Lee.

Hartlepool: Anthony Williams, Barron, Lee, Westwood, Arnison, Stephenson, Humphreys, Clarke, Smith, Watson, Eifion Williams. Subs: Hollund, Boyd, Henderson, Robinson, Simms.

Referee: A Hall (Birmingham).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Nigel Turner
"It was a night no one deserved to lose"
Cheltenham boss Steve Cotterill
"I really feel for Hartlepool"

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