2003 Football Conference play-off Final

The 2003 Football Conference play-off Final took place on 10 May 2003 and was contested between Dagenham & Redbridge and Doncaster Rovers. It was held at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent and was the inaugural final of the Football Conference playoffs which were introduced to accommodate a second promotion place to the Football League.

2003 Football Conference play-off Final
Britannia Stadium 1.JPG
Britannia Stadium venue of the 2003 Football Conference play-off Final
Event2002–03 Football Conference
After extra time
Date10 May 2003
VenueBritannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
RefereeAndre Marriner (Birmingham)



Doncaster had much of the play early on in the match with Tony Roberts in the Daggers goal making a number of good saves, notably from Paul Barnes. Doncaster turned up the pressure and should have taken the lead through Steve Foster, whose header was cleared off the line by John McGrath. However they took a deserved lead when Tim Ryan's cross was headed into the net by Paul Green.

Ten minutes into the second half Doncaster were two goals in front thanks to Dave Morley's header, which a Dagenham defender got an inadvertent hand to, with the ball rebounding in off the post. Dagenham battled on and got a goal back through Mark Stein, who netted after a knock down from target man Steve West. They then levelled the scores when Tarkan Mustafa scored arguably the goal of the game. He received a good ball from Paul Terry on the right, ran at the Rovers defence and shot past Andy Warrington into the far corner of the net.

Extra time was needed and, with legs tiring, it was Doncaster who got the golden goal. Paul Barnes broke away on the left and crossed for Francis Tierney, who sidefooted home to send his team back into the Football League. It is the only time in UK football that promotion has been decided by the controversial golden goal method, officially known as "Promotion Goal" in this match. The pitch was subsequently invaded by Doncaster Rovers fans, including one wearing an oversized jester's hat who managed to circle the ground before being caught by police.


Dagenham & Redbridge2–3 (a.e.t.)Doncaster Rovers
Report Report
GK 1 Tony Roberts
DF 2 Tim Cole
DF 17 Lee Matthews (c)  
DF 19 Tarkan Mustafa
DF 4 Lee Goodwin   71'
MF 8 Paul Terry   94'
MF 26 John McGrath   70'
MF 7 Mark Janney
FW 10 Mark Stein
FW 9 Danny Shipp
FW 15 Steve West
GK 18 Paul Gothard
DF 3 Ashley Vickers   71'
DF 5 Mark Smith   70'
MF 6 Steve Heffer   94'
MF 14 Danny Hill
Garry Hill
GK 1 Andy Warrington
DF 2 Simon Marples
DF 3 Tim Ryan
DF 4 Dave Morley
DF 23 Steve Foster
MF 11 Jamie Paterson   84'
MF 19 Ricky Ravenhill  
MF 20 Paul Green
MF 7 Francis Tierney
FW 9 Paul Barnes (c)
MF 16 Tristram Whitman   83'
GK 13 Stuart Nelson
DF 6 Mark Albrighton
MF 30 Jason Blunt   84'
MF 5 John Doolan
FW 26 Gregg Blundell   83'
Dave Penney

Match rules:

  • 90 minutes.
  • 30 minutes of golden-goal extra time if necessary.
  • Penalty shoot-out if scores still level.
  • Five named substitutes
  • Maximum of three substitutions.


  • "Doncaster seal League return". BBC Sport. 10 May 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  • "Play-offs round-up: Cardiff edge rivals". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 May 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  • "Tierney has golden touch as Rovers return". The Daily Telegraph. London. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  • "Tierney's golden dagger". The Daily Telegraph. London. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  • "Tierney gives Doncaster the golden touch". The Guardian. London. 12 May 2003. Retrieved 2 December 2014.