Darlington 2, Rochdale 1: Miller downs Dale to wrestle control

Darlington left it late before securing a victory that gives them a crucial edge over Rochdale as they attempt to reach the League Two play-off final at Wembley. Ian Miller, a Darlington substitute, had been on for only five minutes when he headed the winner in stoppage time from Neil Wainwright's free-kick.

It could prove a priceless goal against a Rochdale team whose build-up was disrupted when the reserve striker Lee Thorpe suffered a broken arm while arm-wrestling on the coach on the way to the game.

Keith Hill, the Rochdale manager, remains optimistic about the prospects of a club who have spent only five seasons outside the bottom tier of League football during their history. But he may not have felt so confident after a first-half when much of the action was compressed into the opening 10 minutes.

Darlington's Scott Wiseman almost came up with a classic goal. The full-back broke from deep inside his own half and just kept running as Rochdale's defence waited for a pass that never came. He eventually found himself in the Rochdale area and unleashed a shot that was blocked by the goalkeeper Tommy Lee.

Lee also reacted well in the 10th minute to a shot from Micky Cummins after the forward met a cross from Rob Purdie. Sandwiched between those opportunities was one for Rochdale's Chris Dagnall, who stole the ball away from a hesitant Alan White before steering a shot against the crossbar.

But Darlington, with Julian Joachim boosting the attack, were the more imaginative side and led from the 28th minute when Jason Kennedy's excellent control set up a shot and he curled the ball inside the far post.

Hill said: "We have young lads in our team and the occasion got to some of them in the first half, but we are encouraged because of our second-half performance."

They did improve and Dagnall claimed the equaliser when his long-range effort was deflected off Steve Foster in the 70th minute to leave goalkeeper David Stockdale stranded. But Miller had the last word with his winner in stoppage time as Lee failed to deal with Wainwright's free-kick.

"It was very frustrating to concede so late," Hill said. "Tommy Lee has done exceptionally well since he came on loan, but has held his hand up to the fact he made a mistake for the winner."

Darlington's manager, Dave Penney, said: "I thought we deserved to win. We could have scored more in the first-half before Jason got a great goal. It was a great finish. We knew set-pieces would be important and Ian Miller came up with the winner. There is still a long way to go and they will fancy their chances, but this gives us something to build on."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week