Hartlepool United 4 Hereford United 2.

HEREFORD were left on the brink of relegation from League 1 after a damaging defeat against foot-of-the-table rivals Hartlepool at Victoria Park.

Hereford were forced to include their sixth goalkeeper of the season.

With Liverpool Hungarian under-19 international loanee Peter Gulacsi ruled out with a knee injury, former Benfica trainee Jose Veiga made his Bulls bow.

Gulacsi’s absence was not the only bad news for Hereford with a suspected bout of glandular fever sidelining another loan player, Cardiff City centre-back Darren Dennehy.

This meant a recall for Richard Jackson at right-back with Richard Rose moving inside to make his 99th Football League appearance for the Bulls from centre-back.

Veiga, who had already pulled off a couple of saves to deny Anthony Sweeney, was beaten in the eighth minute.

Porter received the ball on the right of the Hereford area and his fierce shot on the turn but the Bulls keeper at the near post.

Hereford were back on level terms within two minutes.

Ben Smith’s pass picked out Brandy and the Manchester United loanee turned off his defender to slip the ball past Jan Budtz.

But having got back to all square, Hereford conceded another unnecessary goal two minutes further on.

Rose’s push on Keigan Parker was minor but clear and the forward, unsurprisingly, made the most of it.

Referee Clive Oliver pointed to the spot and Porter did the rest.

Hereford should have levelled on 23 minutes when Jennison Myrie-Williams shot, after a Marc Pugh effort, had been saved, went wide of the unguarded target.

But the Bulls’ second equaliser did arrive four minutes later.

Smith’s pass sent Touminai Diagouraga to the bye-line and he pulled the ball back for Pugh to slide in at the far post.

Hereford continued to look lively with Pugh a threat on the left.

At the other end, Veiga made light of the howling wind to pull off some good catches.

The Costa Verde international began the second-half with a brilliant diving save to turn Ritchie Humpreys’ swirling free-kick away for a corner.

But the keeper was glad to see Porter’s shot clip the bar and bounce to safety after the Australian had eased his way past Jackson in the area.

Hereford enjoyed some good pressure but, as in so many previous games, were unable to convert this into clear chances.

A forward surge by Kris Taylor produced a shot for Steve Guinan which went a couple of yards wide.

And then Brandy raced on to a Diagouraga pass but saw his shot saved by Budtz.

Hereford’s failure in attack was punished late on by two goals in three minutes.

Veiga came charging off his line to Andy Monkhouse’s corner and Sam Collins headed in.

Then Porter’s cross was nodded home by Sweeney as Hereford were left exposed at the back.

Hereford: Veiga; Jackson (Williams, 82 min), Rose, Broadhurst, Taylor; Myrie-Williams, Diagouraga, Smith (O’Leary, 86 min), Pugh; Guinan, Brandy. Subs not used: Gwynne, Johnson, Williams, Jones.

Hartlepool: Budtz; Liddle, Nelson, Collins, Humhreys (Skarz, 63 min); Jones (Nardiello, 63 min), Clark, Sweeney, Monkhouse; Porter, Parker (Robson, 82 min). Subs not used: Cook, Mackay.

Referee: Clive Oliver (Northumberland).

Attendance: 3,579 (89 from Hereford).

Goals: Porter, 8 min, 1-0; Brandy, 10 min, 1-1; Porter pen, 12 min, 2-1; Pugh, 27 min, 2-2; Collins, 77 min, 3-2; Sweeney, 79 min, 4-2.

Yellow cards: Hereford – Taylor, foul, 88 min; Hartlepool – Nelson, foul, 54 min; Collins, 72 min, foul.