FA Trophy final: Darlington 1-0 Mansfield Town

Chris Senior of Darlington celebrates his winning goal
Senior's winner was his first goal since October

Darlington won the FA Trophy as substitute Chris Senior scored in the last minute of extra time to defeat Mansfield Town.

Senior reacted first to a loose ball inside the box to head past Alan Marriott with 120 minutes looming on the Wembley clock.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson and Tommy Wright had great chances to win the game in the last minute of normal time.

Paul Connor and Adam Smith had the Stags' best chances in the first half.

It was Mansfield who looked the most likely to score in the early stages but grew tired as the game went on and Darlington's fitness showed, especially in extra time.

After a scrappy opening 15 minutes, Louis Briscoe's pace on the right-hand side created a chance for Stags striker Connor, who saw his effort deflected wide.

With Smith proving a menace on the left and Adam Murray pulling the strings in the centre of midfield, Mansfield had the better of play, although Darlington looked dangerous on the breakaway with John Campbell having a half chance.

Connor, who missed Mansfield's final two games of the Blue Square Bet Premier season with injury, was a concern for the Stags in the first half with a calf problem but it was the Quakers who were forced into the first change, as midfielder Gary Smith was replaced by loanee Aman Verma.

It was Mansfield's Smith who had the best chance of the half, as he cut inside and forced a good save from Sam Russell.

Despite Darlington dominating the opening exchanges of the second half, Mansfield created an excellent chance when Briscoe took on two players from the right and his cross-shot was deflected over the bar by his team-mate Connor.

The Quakers continued to grow as the game went on; Dan Spence's last-ditch tackle denied Tommy Wright and from the resulting corner Ian Miller should have done better when given a free header 12 yards out.

At the other end, Briscoe and Murray combined to set up Connor, who seemed to be running much more freely following his first-half injury concerns, but his low shot was saved by Russell.

In the closing stages of normal time Darlington had two great chances for a dramatic winner; Bridge-Wilkinson's 25-yard free kick hit the upright with a minute remaining and in injury time Wright put a diving header wide from only six yards out.

Fatigue really set in for Mansfield in extra time and Darlington grew stronger and it was no surprise when they went close to the game's first goal as Ian Miller was denied by a flying save from Marriott.

But with penalties looming, a throw-in from the left caused havoc in the Stags defence and Senior, who used to be a part-time masseur, scored the winner, Darlington's first goal at Wembley in three visits.


Darlington manager Mark Cooper told BBC Tees:

"I am so proud, what a way to finish. To win it in the last minute, what a way to do it.

"We didn't think it was going to come but the one thing about them (Darlington) is they are fit, they are organised and they keep going.

"What a way to win it, that will go down in folklore."

Mansfield Town manager Duncan Russell told BBC Radio Nottingham:

"I am devastated and I feel gutted for the players and the supporters. My players played their hearts out.

"We have done really well and had a few good chances to go in front early on.

"It's cruel fate. It should have gone to a penalty shootout if the truth be know. We have to draw strength from what happened today.

"I do believe we did enough to warrant a penalty shootout, I thought we played the best football."


Darlington: Russell, Arnison, Brown, Miller, Hatch, Chandler, Gary Smith, Moore, Bridge-Wilkinson, Wright, Campbell.

Subs: Terry, Phil Gray, St Louis-Hamilton, Senior, Verma.

Goals: Senior 119.

Mansfield: Marriott, Silk, Foster, Naylor, Spence, Briscoe, Thompson, Nix, Murray, Connor, Smith.

Subs: Collett, Stonehouse, Cain, Mitchley.

Ref: S Atwell (Nuneaton).

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