Halifax Town 2 Hereford United 3 (after extra time: score at 90 mins 2-2)

They have endured nine years of uncertainty, anguish and heartache but it was finally mission accomplished for Hereford United on Saturday night.

The team from the market town, home of the SAS, not only dared but also won in the most heroic fashion in front of 15,000 fans at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester to return to the Football League.

The scars of their last-day relegation in May 1997, the backs-to-the-wall fight for financial survival and the tears of twice suffering playoff misery seemed a lifetime away when Ryan Green's stunning extra-time goal earned the long-overdue return ticket to League Two.

Green's previous claim to fame had been in becoming the youngest player capped by Wales when he was a Wolves youngster but his name will go down in Bulls' folklore alongside Ronnie Radford and Ricky George and the heroes of '72.

Twice the Bulls, inspired by skipper Tamika Mkandawire, had had to show their steel after falling behind to Halifax, equalising through Andy Williams and Guy Ipoua before right-back Green snaffled a loose ball on the right-hand of the penalty area and steered a glorious angled shot beyond keeper Jon Kennedy into the far corner of the net.

Having finished runners-up for three years in succession, justice was undoubtedly done but manager Graham Turner admitted the over-riding feeling was one of relief.

"We've gone close in the last two years and it's been heartbreaking," said Turner. "But today has made up for it all.

"Both teams went at it hammer and tongs. We could have played better but in the end it was academic - we're back in the Football League.

"This is as big as anything I've done, even better maybe than winning the champion-ship itself away from home which can be a bit of an anti-climax."

Turner has enjoyed the highs after successes with Shrewsbury Town and Wolves, and managed in the top tier with Aston Villa but his 11 years at Edgar Street have been an Alton Towers roller-coaster. His own money rescued the club and no-one deserves the adulation more than one of football's real gentlemen.

"When I left Wolves I never thought I'd join as club as small as Hereford. The club was in dire straits," said Turner. "I was foolish to buy shares and not one day has gone by that I've not regretted it. But at this moment it's all been worthwhile."

Halifax, who had finished fourth in the table, had settled into their game quicker than the Bulls and were rewarded on 27 minutes when Lewis Killeen cracked a 20-yard half-volley past keeper Wayne Brown.

But it was 1-1 seven minutes later when Williams notched his 13th goal of the season with a diving header from Adam Stansfield's cross.

Former Hereford striker John Grant, on as a substitute, restored the lead to the Yorkshire side from Killeen's cross on 73 minutes but the Bulls provided their own supersub when Cameroon striker Ipoua converted a right-wing cross from Simon Travis with a thundering header on 80 minutes, five minutes after coming on.

Now August cannot come quickly enough for the Bulls.

"There is clearly a gulf between the Conference and the League," said Turner. We've got to go and try and prepare. But you look at the Championship to see how far well-run clubs like us can go. Southend and Colchester have proved it can be done."