Hartlepool fans invaded the pitch after winning the penalty shoot-out (Image: BT Sport)

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There were ugly scenes in the National League Play-Off final on Sunday after Hartlepool beat Torquay in a penalty shoot-out at Ashton Gate.

In a hugely dramatic encounter, Luke Armstrong gave Hartlepool a first-half lead in the 35th minute by firing a powerful shot in off the crossbar.

But deep into injury time Torquay's Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan sensationally equalised with a brilliant header to give the Gulls hope.

There was no breakthrough in extra time, but the shoot-out saw further drama as both sides missed their first two penalties each.

It eventually went to sudden death, and Torquay's Matt Buse missed the decisive spot-kick to prompt a mass pitch invasion from joyous Hartlepool fans, who were celebrating their club returning to the EFL for the first time since their relegation from League Two in 2017.

Some fans seemed to go overboard in their celebrations
(Image: BT Sport)

Unfortunately some went overboard, and could be seen winding up a number of Gulls players, who reacted angrily and had to be separated by security.

On loan Sunderland forward Benji Kimpioka was among those involved in confrontations, and he was filmed furiously throwing an object towards somebody who seemed to have provoked him.

There were also reports of both sets of supporters launching bottles at each other, and stewards had to form a cordon to keep them apart.

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It was a sour end to what had been a thrilling game, which around 6,000 spectators were permitted to attend at Bristol City's stadium.

There were a number of tannoy announcement urging fans to get off the pitch after the penalty shoot-out, but it had little effect as hundreds stayed on to celebrate wildly.

Hartlepool join National League winners Sutton United in winning promotion to League Two, and will no doubt be delighted to have escaped non-league football after four years.

Hartlepool have won promotion back to League Two
(Image: PA)

Speaking after his heroics in the shoot-out, Hartlepool 'keeper Brad James said: “A rollercoaster of emotions. We thought it was gone. But the lads never gave up and worked so hard.

"A credit to these lads, they dug me out for that last goal. If I stayed [on my line] I'd have saved it. If we lost, I wouldn't have slept for a week.”

Their captain Nicky Featherstone added: “I have been here seven years and it's been a real struggle at times – I've had three owners and eight managers.

"To be among the squad that was relegated and then to be part of the squad that has got the club back to where it belongs is massive personally for me.”