'The ultimate victory' - Hartlepool United boss Dave Challinor reacts to dramatic win over Torquay United

Dave Challinor described winning promotion back to the Football League with Hartlepool United as an ‘amazing’ feeling and one he will cherish for the rest of his life after the ‘ultimate victory’.

Sunday, 20th June 2021, 6:30 pm

The National League play-off final victory over Torquay United at Ashton Gate had just about everything – and it ended with 3,100 Pools fans celebrating a dramatic victory.

Luke Armstrong looked set to become the hero on the day as he fired home in the first-half to put Pools ahead, only for Torquay United goalkeeper Lucas Covolan to equalise deep into injury time to send the game into extra time.

The two sides couldn’t be separated in the additional 30 minutes so the tie went to penalties, Pools triumphing 5-4.

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Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor celebrates with the trophy after winning the shoot-out and promotion after the Vanarama National League play-off final at Ashton Gate, Bristol. PA.
Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor celebrates with the trophy after winning the shoot-out and promotion after the Vanarama National League play-off final at Ashton Gate, Bristol. PA.

Victory left Challinor emotional afterwards.

Challinor said: “The last two games we hadn’t really been challenged and I was disappointed with the second half and we can learn lessons from it but in the end it was ultimate victory.

"It became nervy and tense but to win on penalties is an amazing feeling.

"It is hard to sum up, I have amazing support from my family, they play the biggest part in that.

"To be able to celebrate with them is brilliant, to become a Football League team again and to become a Football League manager is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Pools certainly won promotion the hard way, having come through two play-off eliminator matches before the final at Ashton Gate.

And it went the full distance too, with 3,100 fans cheering them on every step of the way.

It led to dramatic scenes at the full-time whistle, with Pools back in the Football League after four years.

Challinor said: “I can’t describe the emotions.

"I knew regardless of the result I’d be crying at the end of today!

"There was so much on it. I wished we’d won it thirty minutes earlier but there was no better feeling at the end.

"Brad [James] will take the blame for coming and not getting there but he made up for it in the penalty shoot-out.

“You go from villain to hero in less than 45 minutes!”

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