Hereford United 3 Northampton Town 4

HEREFORD bowed out of the LDV Vans Trophy on the golden goal rule on Tuesday after conceding a controversial penalty in a pulsating first-round tie against Second Division Northampton.

United manager Graham Turner and his players were visibly seething at the finish after Hereford produced an impressive attacking display, only to lose to a very debatable penalty in extra time.

Andy Tretton was harshly adjudged to have fouled Chris Carruthers by Stockport referee Scott Matthieson and, although Matt Baker got a firm hand to Jamie Forrester's 95th-minute spot-kick, the ball crept into the net.

Hereford's two-goal hero Chukki Eribenne, on loan from Bournemouth, said: "There's always going to be physical contact, football is a contact sport, but I thought it was a very rough decision."

Midfielder Mick Galloway said: "The player had clearly over-run the ball and it was in Baker's hands when the referee gave the penalty. It was a shocking decision."

It was disappointing night for Galloway, whose all-round contribution was excellent, but it was his unfortunate deflection from a long free-kick into the box which looped over Baker in the 89th minute and squared matters at 3-3.

For long periods the Bulls were much brighter than their higher-graded opponents and, after twice coming from behind through the outstanding Eribenne, they looked to have won the game when Paul Parry collected Galloway's through ball and rifled in Hereford's third goal in the 83rd minute.

Earlier Northampton stunned the home side with the opening goal after just 25 seconds. A cross from the right found Forrester inside the area and he lashed a rising shot past Baker for his first goal.

Hereford were trailing for just five minute, however, because a high punt from Danny Williams was fumbled by Northampton's hapless goalkeeper Nathan Abbey and Eribenne bundled in the equaliser from close range.

Northampton restored their advantage in the 11th minute when Richard Teesdale's attempted clearance was blocked by Paul Rickers and cannoned into the top corner from 10 yards.

But again United fought back, drawing level in the 32nd minute after Williams set up Eribenne inside the area and the striker confidently fired home.

Bookings: None.

Hereford: Baker, Clarke (Sawyers 91 min), Rose, Tretton, James, Pitman, Parry (Guinan 86 min), Williams, Teesdale, Galloway, Eribenne. Subs not used: Griffiths, Purdie, Smith.

Northampton: Abbey, Sampson, Hope, Frain (Morison 88 min), Gabbiadini (Carruthers 86 min), Rickers, Trollope, Forrester, Asamoah, Hargreaves, Gill (Harsley 46 min). Subs not used: Lincoln, Bunn.

Referee: S Matthieson (Stockport).

Attendance: 1,087.