Darlington 0 Plymouth Argyle 1 (Mauge 65 )Attendance: 43,431
Sunday 26 May 1996
Warnock did it twice in successive seasons with Notts County, he did it last season with Huddersfield and then surprisingly resigned to take on the challenge of lifting Argyle out of the bottom division, where they found themselves for the first time last summer after the chaotic Peter Shilton managerial reign.
In yesterday's Third Division play-off final, watched by a record crowd for that occasion of 43,431, Plymouth found themselves against a Darlington side who had beaten them home and away during the season. After a subdued start, though, Argyle held the upper hand throughout a typically tense and committed encounter, roared on by at least three-quarters of the crowd.
The Quakers have gained a reputation this term as one of a poor division's better footballing sides, and they were the first to settle, stroking the ball around with Gary Bannister, once of Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday, prominent in midfield. Penetration was the problem, though, for both sides in a game in which defences were outstanding.
Plymouth had the first sight of goal in the 10th minute but, after a neat one-two with Michael Evans, Adrian Littlejohn's first touch let him down. Darlington's attacks were being prompted from the back by the classy Matt Appleby, who played for Newcastle in the top flight in the pre-Keegan era, and in the 22nd minute he took the ball half the length of the pitch before shooting just wide from a Robbie Blake cross.
That was Darlington's only real chance in the first half. At the other end Evans lifted a volley wastefully high, and Littlejohn dragged a shot just wide from an Evans flick-on.
There was still little to choose between the sides in the second half, but Plymouth were winning the midfield battle thanks to the tigerish tackling of Ronnie Mauge and Chris Leadbitter. At the back Mick Heathcote and his sidekicks, Richard Logan and Chris Curran, were strong for Argyle, while Andy Crosby, Darlington's captain, was courageous at the heart of their back four.
Darlington's defence dozed off just once, in the 65th minute, and it cost them the match and promotion. Barlow won a corner on the right, Leadbitter knocked the flag kick back to the right-back, Mark Patterson, whose cross was headed firmly into the net by an unmarked Mauge.
Plymouth seemed more likely to score the game's second goal, with Littlejohn and Evans leading threatening breaks. The closing minutes were played out with the Pilgrims keeping possession deep in the Quakers' half, and the final whistle produced a roar that could almost have been heard back in Devon.
Darlington (3-5-2): Newell; Gregan, Crosby, Appleby; Brumwell, Gaughan (Carmichael, 85), Bannister, Carss, Barnard; Painter, Blake. Subs: Carmichael, Twynham, Mattison.
Plymouth Argyle (3-5-2): Cherry; Curran, Heathcote, Logan; Patterson, Barlow, Mauge, Leadbitter, Williams; Littlejohn, Evans. Subs: Billy, Baird, Corazzin.
Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo applauded by Liverpool fans after master-class for Real Madrid, despite Manchester United ties
Angel Di Maria injury latest: Argentina international set to play in Manchester United vs Chelsea match
Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Cristiano Ronaldo says he is playing Barca - not just Lionel Messi - in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Diego Costa injury: Chelsea striker forced into hospital ahead of Manchester United clash - reports
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...