Hereford United sealed promotion to League One after a comfortable 3-0 victory at Brentford this afternoon. With the one side nicknamed The Bees losing, the other, Barnet managed a 2-1 win over Stockport County to ensure third-tier football for United next season. Gary Hooper and Theo Robinson scored in the first-half to make things comfortable, and a vocal away support of 1418 saw Simon Johnson finish proceedings off with a late tap-in.
Graham Turner went with the same team than overcame Wrexham in mid-week, with one change being made on the bench; Trevor Benjamin departed leaving Steve Guinan to take his place. The Bees started Alan Connell up front against his former employers, whilst Glenn Poole played on left-wing; the tricky winger was a team-mate of Hooper's at Grays Athletic.
Gary Smith shot well wide in the early stages as Brentford made the more impressive start, but it was United who took the lead, when Hooper netted another vital away goal. After 18 minutes, Robinson flicked to his strike-partner Hooper whose quick touch took him clear of the back-line before striking past the helpless Ben Hamer in goal. Advantage Hereford and chants of "We are going up" were ringing around Griffin Park. Ben Smith's volley tamely went into Hamer's arms, whilst Clint Easton went closer, with a superb touch and shot following a Hooper switch of play bringing out a fine save from Hamer, as he threw himself to his left to tip over.
Ryan Dickson sent a placed shot past the post from the left-hand side, whilst a mistake from Toumani Diagouraga allowed Ricky Shakes to break but his pass to G. Smith deserved better, as he smashed over from 18 yards despite being in a promising position. Then came two minutes of action; firstly United won themselves a penalty after Dean Beckwith was held in the box. Robinson took it and rolled it home from 12 yards, but encroachment from Easton meant it had to be re-taken. It was second time unlucky for Robinson, as he went the same way but Hamer guessed correctly and palmed the powerful penalty clear. It didn't matter though, as a minute after, Robinson netted to double the advantage. A weak back-pass allowed Robinson to race on to the loose ball and round Hamer. The Watford loanee steadied himself before firing into the middle of the goal to the delight of the away support.
Hereford were in control and this continued into the second half, with Hooper's acceleration taking him into the area after being found by Easton but a poked effort was blocked by Hamer. Connell headed a poole free-kick straight at Brown before John Mousinho replaced G. Smith. Fine interplay up top from Robinson and Hooper allowed the latter to chest down a chipped pass from the former, but his placed effort was inches past the far post. Shakes looked lively with his running, but couldn't find an end product, with one shot deflected through to Brown and a header being caught by 'Superman'.
An excellent over-head kick from Connell landed on the roof of the net, but Hereford were rarely troubled, instead, they looked like adding to the score they had accumulated so far. Superb counter-attacking football which started in their own penalty box, allowed Hooper to run 60 yards before sending Robinson through, but the striker's shot trickled past the far corner after beating Hamer. Shakes sent a powerful effort past the post, whilst Connel's chest set up Poole but his volley was wild and harmless. Matthew Heywood came on for Craig Pead, whilst another snapshot from Shakes again proved harmless as it flew well over Brown's bar.
Hooper left the field of play with ten minutes remaining to an excellent and deserved ovation, with Guinan taking his place. Brentford continued to press but to no avail, as a Dickson free-kick was curled past the post. Minutes from time, Brentford's very own Wayne Brown tested his name-sake with a rising half-volley but 'Superman' won the name battle by pushing the ball over the bar. Johnson replaced Robinson with a minute remaining and finished the game off in stoppage time. The final goal followed a magnificent free-kick from Poole which rattled the bar from 25 yards, but after Broadhurst had smashed clear, Trent McClenahan ran onto it, and was away. The Aussie got his head up as he raced into the box and passed across the goal to Johnson, who finished despite scuffing his shot. The referee soon blew up, and within minutes of full-time at Griffin Park, news filtered through about the final result at Underhill; the outcome? Hereford were up.
The scenes that followed were estatic reactions from players and fans alike. There was a pitch invasion by the majority of Bulls' fans on the terrace, whilst the players and coaching staff returned to the pitch to be greeted by cheers and songs of "Going up". It's been a fantastic season, and Hereford can now say a long goodbye to the days of Canvey Island and co, and now look forward to trips to Tranmere, Huddersfield and maybe even Leeds and Nottingham Forest.
6246 people were attracted to Griffin Park for a season best attendance, with Hereford coming out on top. The game itself was pretty routine, with all of United's players contributing to a good performance. In particular, Robinson and Hooper again linked up-well, whilst the defensive duo of Broadhurst and Beckwith were solid as ever, and the protection that Diagouraga gave them cannot be under-estimated.
So it's onto League One next year; there's going to be some sore heads in Herefordshire tomorrow!
Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Broadhurst, Beckwith, Rose, Igoe, Diagouraga, Smith, Easton, Hooper, Robinson.
Subs: Esson, Collins, Taylor, Johnson, Guinan.
Brentford: Hamer, Pead, Bennett, Osborne, Dickson, Brown, O'Conner, Poole, Shakes, Connell.
Subs: Sankofa, Reid, S. Brown, Heywood, Mousinho.