Jon Nurse's scrambled goal gave Dagenham & Redbridge a 3-2 win over Rotherham and promotion in a pulsating League Two play-off final at Wembley yesterday.
John Still's side averaged an attendance of only 2,088 this season but have now earned the right to play teams such as Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton in League One. The club was formed only in 1992 and reached the Football League in 2007 after promotion from the Conference.
Dagenham twice took the lead through Paul Benson and Danny Green, only to see Millers striker Ryan Taylor swiftly level on both occasions. But Nurse's scruffy strike with 20 minutes remaining proved enough to see off Ronnie Moore's men and deny their manager a third promotion at the helm.
Still has worked wonders at Victoria Road and will now get a chance to test his managerial mettle in the third tier after victory in the biggest game in the club's history.
There they will meet Swindon, who missed out on promotion to the second tier on Saturday after a 1-0 defeat to Millwall in a nervy contest. The Londoners' manager, Kenny Jackett, was understandably delighted after his side sealed promotion thanks to a Paul Robinson goal.
"It's nice," Jackett said. "It's the sixth time for Millwall in the play-offs and for me as a manager it's my third time, and it certainly beats losing. The club had come a long way last year and it was so disappointing at the end. So we built on that anger and I'm pleased to say the players have seen it through."
Robinson's goal came six minutes before half-time, the defender poking home from six yards after Swindon failed to deal with Danny Schofield's corner. He said: "I think we've earned our promotion over two years of hard work. Credit to the lads – they've been excellent and they deserve every minute of it.
"To captain a team, to score the winning goal and to lift up a trophy at Wembley – as a kid kicking around in the back garden that's all I ever dreamed of."
The Swindon manager, Danny Wilson, was left to reflect on what might have been. "It's absolute devastation in the dressing room but they can be very proud of what they have done this season," he said.
Town's chairman, Andrew Fitton, even considering his position at the club following the disappointment of defeat. "I need to think about the way the club is run and what happens in the future," he said.Reuse content