A SUPERBLY-worked goal from leading scorer Neil Grayson kept Hereford's hopes in the FA Cup alive in the second round against Third Division opposition on Saturday.

Grayson pounced after 61 minutes to net a deserved equaliser with a goal that proved the benefit of United's training visit to Lilleshall earlier in the week. Hereford were awarded a free-kick five yards outside the penalty area following a foul on Chris Hargreaves. Murray Fishlock and Gavin Mahon stood over the ball and, with the Hereford supporters massed behind the goal expecting one of Fishlock's curling efforts, Mahon slipped the ball forward to Brian McGorry whose first-time pass to Grayson provided the invitation for United's top marksman to hammer the ball past Carl Emberson in the home goal.

''It's a question of having the courage to take a free-kick like that,'' said United director of football Graham Turner. ''But it is something we've been able to practise this week and it's nice to see it come to fruition.''

The goal was no more than Grayson deserved as he had gone close on two other occasions shortly after half-time. The former Northampton striker spent the afternoon foraging tirelessly on his own in a new role prompted by Turner's introduction of a 5-4-1 system which saw Mahon playing in a sweeper's role alongside John Brough and Richard Walker. Mahon once again revealed his composure and skill as his fellow centre-backs dealt competently with the aerial threat posed by the gangling Mark Sale and Tony Adcock.

Hereford had started brightly with Hargreaves and McGorry both going close before the home side took the lead on 10 minutes. Paul Buckle played a one-two with Adcock and, as he received the return ball, David Gregory, who spent an unproductive loan spell with Hereford three seasons ago, strode forward to curl a delicate chip over Andy de Bont into the net. De Bont had no chance with the goal but had plenty of opportunities to play his part later on, dealing with a number of crosses in immaculate fashion and, on one occasion, coming out to punch clear firmly from the head of the dangerous Sale.

''Sale's a big lad and so I thought I'd better give our defence a helping hand,'' joked the keeper afterwards. The United camp was generally in a buoyant mood for the long journey home, but skipper David Norton, who made a competent first start after a long injury lay-off, summed up the attitude.

''It was a good draw for us, but we thought we might have snatched it at the end,'' he said. A certain amount of pre-match interest surrounded referee Kevin Lynch, who had sent off five players in the previous week's Division 2 encounter between Wigan Athletic and Bristol Rovers.

But on this occasion his performance was extremely low key and the players gave him no opportunity to brandish cards of any colour.

Hereford: De Bont, Norton, Fishlock, Pitman, Brough, Walker, Hargreaves, McGorry, Grayson, Warner, Mahon. Subs not used: McCue, Cook, Williams, Withington (gk).

Attendance: 3,558.