VETERAN, 33-year-old striker Neil Grayson's first-ever goals in the FA Cup could not have been more timely as they propelled Hereford United into the second round of the competition and achieved some partial retribution at the expense of Third Division Brighton.

Six months ago Brighton preserved their Football League status by drawing 1-1 at Edgar Street and in doing so consigned The Bulls to the GM Vauxhall Conference. Saturday's victory could not alter the consequences of that May result, but, at least, this time it was the 5,084 United fans in the crowd of 5,787 who had jubilant smiles on their faces as Worcester referee Gerald Ashby blew the final whistle.

The outcome of the tie hinged on two penalies one missed, one converted. The first occurred in the 49th minute when a rash tackle by Richard Walker felled Brighton's experienced striker Craig Maskell. Transfer-listed home keeper Andy de Bont, who was in United's goal in the May game, was not happy with the first placement of the ball by Paul McDonald. The penalty-taker set it again and aimed his shot well to de Bont's right. It was not good enough, however, as the keeper hurled himself full length to turn it away for a corner.

de Bont is making a habit of FA Cup penalty saves. He pulled one off for United in last season's first round tie at Gillingham. But on that occasion it was to no avail as Hereford were pipped 1-0.

An elated United then went on the offensive to take the lead in the 63rd minute from a superbly-executed move. The outstanding Ian Foster sent Murray Fishlock careering down the left flank to deliver a low cross to Jamie Pitman. The midfielder completely wrong-footed the Seagulls' rearguard with a clever back-heel to Grayson, who veered away from keeper Nicky Rust before side-footing the ball into the net.

United's joy lasted just four minutes. McDonald's penalty-miss pain was somewhat eased when de Bont failed to cut out his corner and Stuart Storer, located at the far post, lashed it into the net from close range.

Then, with a repeat of May's 1-1 scoreline looking on the cards, Mr Ashby awarded a second penalty, this time to Hereford. Brighton right-back Peter Smith fouled Foster outside the box and then as the striker edged into the penalty area bundled him to the ground. There were few protests from the visitors at Mr Ashby's decision.

Grayson decided power not subtlety was required and he thumped a rising spot-kick past the helpless Rust for his 10th goal of the campaign.

It was no more than The Bulls deserved. In the first half Gary Cook was unlucky to see his header hit Brighton's bar. And in the second period James McCue, United's recent free-transfer signing from Kidderminster Harriers, spoilt a lively first team debut by miscuing a couple of times with the goal at his mercy. He replaced skipper Ian Rodgerson, who withdrew with a calf muscle injury at half-time. The Seagulls created few scoring chances, apart from a couple of first half openings. Maskell shot the first straight at de Bont and Jeff Minton fired the second hopelessly wide.

Any worries United might have had at the absence of their injured regular central defenders John Brough and Trevor Matthewson were quickly dispelled as midfielder Gavin Mahon slotted into the heart of the defence effectively alongside Walker.

Hereford United: de Bont, Rodgerson (McCue 46 min), Mahon, Walker, Fishlock, Pitman, Warner, McGorry, Foster, Grayson, Cook. Substitutes not used: Downing, Hill, Williams (G), Williams (A).

Attendance: 5,787