For the second year running the Daggers went so close to promotion that they
could taste it only to have the dream ripped away at the last moment as they
went down to a golden goal winner to Doncaster Rovers at Stoke City's Britannia
The first ever Nationwide Conference play off final will be remembered for s
great game though, and it has to be said that the best team on the day won it.
Not the best supporters though, as several pitch invasions by the Doncaster fans
marred the day and a number of arrests were made. More of that later.
Daggers fielded the same starting eleven as in both games against Morecambe but
changed the bench a little, Ashley Vickers and Danny Hill (left) replacing Steve
Potts and Jason Broom. There was still no place for Junior McDougald whose back
injury obviously beat him in the end.
early exchanges were all Doncaster as they used the width of the pitch to press
the Daggers back. Paterson had the first effort on target, caught by Tony
Roberts (right) in the 7th minute. In the 15th minute again Paterson found some
space for a shot and Roberts again took the ball with no problems, then Barnes
got away and should have opened the scoring only for Roberts to save with his
took until the 20th minute for the Daggers to create a chance, Janney putting
Stein (left) in but the great man, stretching, was unable to get his shot on
Back came Donny and threatening again, Whitman's cross well taken then Barnes
forcing another save out of Roberts.
Daggers best chance of the half came from a corner from the left in the 25th
minute which found Lee Goodwin (right). His header goalward was probably going
to be cleared off the line but Stein got a foot to it and was unfortunate to see
the ball go over the bar.
Ravenhill and Whitman both had shots before Donny finally took a deserved
lead in the 38th minute, Tim Ryan's cross met by Paul Green whose header looped
over Roberts and in. The goal was greeted by outpourings of delight from the
Doncaster fans which spilt over into a minor pitch invasion.
immediately after the resumption Lee Matthews (left) was booked for a crunching
challenge on the goalscorer Green, then a couple of minutes later another attack
ended in a typical Daggers v Donny brawl, Ravenhill eventually booked after the
referee consulted his assistant.
The half ended with the score just 1-0, poor reward for Doncaster's
The second half began as the first had ended with Paterson getting in a
couple of shots, both saved well by Roberts, the second at the expense of a
corner. Tierney swung the ball in and Morley got his head to it. Roberts threw
himself once again and got a hand to it but could only push the ball onto the
post and then in. 55 minutes gone and 2-0 down. All over surely?
Again the Doncaster fans excitement saw them invade the pitch despite
repeated appeals for them not to. As the noise from their end became a crescendo
the Daggers began to fight back at last, seeming once again to be at their most
dangerous when behind.
West's header was tipped over as they started to find some room going
forward, then on 63 minutes Mark Stein picked up West's headed flick and
controlling the ball with what looked afterwards on TV may have been a hand, slammed
the ball home to silence the Doncaster fans.
the momentum of the match turned the Daggers went after an equaliser, Shipp's
shot tipped away by Warrington. Barnes got away briefly and forced another save
from Roberts before Tarkan Mustafa capped a great display with the goal of the
Put in the clear by Paul Terry with 12 minutes left in the game he picked the
ball up wide right and ran at the Doncaster defence which had no answer to him.
From an angle Tarkan shot across Warrington and in at the far post before being
engulfed in his team mates in celebration.
the Daggers fans raised the roof of the Signal Radio Stand for the remainder of the 90
the Daggers looked for a winner. Mark Janney (right) went closest shooting wide
from the edge of the area before time was up and it was golden goal extra time
for both teams once again.
With the momentum still with them the Daggers had the better of the first
period. In the 95th minute Tarkan Mustafa again getting away and crossing for
Steve West who just could not get enough on a header to score. As the Daggers
fans held their heads in disbelief most missed that the assistant had flagged
for offside anyway.
Mark Janney found space before shooting wide again before the end of the
first period of extra time.
Tired legs were showing at the game moved into a second fifteen minutes extra
time. Many were just starting to think of penalties when Doncaster managed to
grab a priceless golden goal. Paul Barnes, conference top scorer this season was
this time the provider, getting away down Doncaster's left. His precise pass
picked out Francis Tierney who had the easiest of tasks to side foot Donny back
into the Football League.
Once again the Doncaster celebrations spilled over, a significant minority of
their fans heading the length of the pitch to taunt the Daggers fans in their
moment of despair. Despite repeated pleas to move away back to the stands so the
presentations could take place it took at least ten minutes to do so, during
which a number of arrests were made. An unsavoury end to the
day and the season.
the Daggers miss out again in the cruellest of manners. Garry Hill (left) looks
sure to change the team significantly in the summer in an effort to try once
more for the elusive prize and it seems inevitable that for several of the team
on Saturday that was the last time they will be seen in a Daggers shirt.