Curtis Main's first ever goal gave Darlington all three points against lowly Grimsby Town.

The teenage striker came off the bench on 84 minutes and within 120 seconds had handed Quakers all three points.

Despite creating all the best chances Quakers appeared destined for a draw, until Main popped up with a goal that lifts Darlington one place to seventh.

Main was only the bench because Pawel Abbott pulled out of the line-up prior to kick-off as he was suffering from tonsillitis.

He was given antibiotics by the club doctor and advised to leave the Arena so that the virus would not spread to his team-mates.

It was a blow to Darlington and the absence of their talisimanic number nine meant a recall for Liam Hatch, but the focus of attention was Grimsby's number nine – Adam Proudlock.

Mariners' striker started the season with Darlington but made little impression and was allowed to move to Blundell Park, where he has found the net on five occasions.

Five minutes into Proudlock's return to the Arena he had a go at netting his sixth for the Mariners, firing a 30-yard speculative effort just over the crossbar.

Darlington's first chance came on 14 minutes following a Franz Burgmeier corner. Flighted to the near post, Steve Foster's flick-on to the far post found Hatch but he was unable to meet the ball.

Burgmeier then hit the post in Quakers' next chance. The Liechtenstein international, playing after serving a one-match ban at Bradford on Tuesday, was first to the ball after Ricky Ravenhill's shot had been parried at full-stretch by keeper Phil Barnes.

But Burgmeier's effort at close-range at an acute angle hit the outside of the upright, and from a similar position on 36 minutes Jason Kennedy also hit the woodwork.

He met a through-ball and scooped it over the keeper but on to the top of the bar as Darlington enjoyed a spell of superiority.

Neither team had played particularly well before the break, but it was Quakers who had forced the better openings however, Proudlock attempted to end the half with what would have been a superb strike.

He met Stuart Elliott's left-wing cross with a volley that, fortunately for his former team-mates, he scuffed wide of Dean Gerken's goal.

Soon after the restart Neil Austin put a free-kick straight into Barnes' hands, after which Alan White was booked for, according to referee Graham Laws, tripping the Mariners keeper.

White was incensed, claiming it was accidental.

Darlington's next two efforts were both off target, but by hugely different margins. First, Burgmeier blasted a shot high into Block 19, and then Rob Purdie and Danny Carlton combined to tee up Kennedy.

Carlton's lay-off gave Kennedy a shooting chance 12 yards from goal but the former Middlesbrough youngster saw his side-footed effort roll agonisingly wide of the post.

The attendance of 3,418 was Quakers' third highest of the season, and the fans in the West Stand were in full voice as Darlington chased victory against a side who started the day fourth bottom of the table.

But Grimsby were proving to be stubborn opposition. Their forays forward were met with a solid Darlington defence, rarely giving Gerken an opportunity to become involved. A Foster block from Adrian Forbes prevented a shot reaching Gerken who hardly a save to make.

The Mariners, managed by Mike Newell, made a triple substitution with 19 minutes to play and that meant the withdrawal of Proudlock who had been kept quiet by Foster and White.

Soon after Grimsby's changes, Penney sent on David Poole and it was not long before the right-winger went on a great run to set-up Carlton but the on loan striker managed to commit the worst miss of the season.

Poole had dribbled into the area, evaded Joe Widdowson's challenge and passed the ball sideways to Carlton who had time and space to pick his spot from a central position six yards out. Instead, Carlton passed the ball wide of the post.

It was an astonishing miss, one that left Carlton stood starting at the turf with his hands on his hips, no doubt wondering how he had managed to miss the target.

Obviously keen to make amends, soon after he took responsibility at a free-kick 25 yards from goal but powered that into the same area of Block 19 that Burgmeier had found earlier in the half.

Darlington were desperate for a goal, and Carlton needed it to save his blushes. He did not have to wait long, as his teenager team-mate soon took centre stage.

Main had entered the fray on 84 minutes, Penney hoping the youngster could bail Darlington out and he did just that only two minutes after being sent on.

The 16-year-old rose highest in the six-yard box to head Ravenhill's right-wing cross past Barnes for his first senior goal.

He became Darlington's youngest ever player as 15-year-old last May at Peterborough since when the South Shields teenager has been gradually integrated into the squad.

Penney has been keen not to raise expectations too high, but that goal meant Main instantly became a Darlington hero to the supporters who gave him a standing ovation as he left the field.

Next up for Quakers is Tuesday's match at the Arena against fellow promotion hopefuls Rochdale.

Goals: Main (1-0, 86mins)

Bookings: Widdowson (foul, 33mins); White (foul, 47); Jarman (dissent 79)

Attendance: 3,418

Referee: Graham Laws (Whitley Bay)

Darlington (4-4-2): Gerken; Austin, White, Foster, Valentine; Purdie (Poole 73), Ravenhill, Kennedy, Burgmeier (Main 84); Hatch, Carlton. Subs (not used): Kazimierczak, Ryan, Tremarco

Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Barnes; Clarke, Bennett, Atkinson, Widdowson; Jarman, Sinclair, Kalala, Elliott (Newey 71); Proudlock (Llewellyn 71), Forbes (Bore 71). Subs (not used: Montgomery, Boshell