Monthly Archives: March 2014

Five star Darlo beat Wakefield. Darlo 5-1 Wakefield

Darlington picked up their first win in four games, as they put five goals past Wakefield including a hat trick from Stephen Thompson.

Having not won any of their last three it was crucial Darlo picked up the win tonight and other than a five minute spell in the second half the result did not look in doubt.

A new formation saw Darlo play a 3-5-2, with Gary Brown playing as a defensive midfielder, Dale Hopson play on the right and loan signing Adam Mitchell on the left.

The only goal in the first half came from the familiar source of Thompson’s right foot, a low drive from outside the box broke the deadlock, but the score at the break could have been more. Purewal, Dowson, Mitchell and Hopson all came close, while Wakefield rarely threatened on the break.

Shortly after half time the visitors were reduced to ten men. I was stood near the half way line in the second half and it was for abusive language towards the official. The Wakefield striker politely told the female referee to p off, after Gary brown had not been booked for a late challenge.

Despite this Wakefield surprisingly leveled, after a mix up in the Darlo defence, however we were quickly able to regain control. We re took the lead thanks to a fantastic strike from Thompson after the ball was pulled back by Hopson. Before Nathan Fisher came off the bench to score a well taken goal.

Tommo as he has done so many times before would steal the show. His third goal to complete his hat trick was the pick of the bunch, a pile driver with his weaker left foot giving the keeper no chance.  Youngster Adam Mitchell then completed the scoring with the last kick of the game, a fine strike from the edge of the box to make the final score 5-1.

On another night we could have scored a lot more, we hit the woodwork three times as well as the Wakefield keeper pulling off a couple of fantastic stops in the second half, but no one would complain with five goals before the kick off.

I don’t think the sending off really changed the game, when Wakefield had eleven men we were still in complete control and as for the incident it was just a lack of discipline. Probably the worst opposition i have seen this season, it was very easy to carve them open, but nothing should be taken away from the Quakers.

All across the pitch they were strong displays, Hopson did very well on the right flank and on another night could have had a couple of goals. Mitchell was also great on the other side, especially in the first half and he got the goal he deserved late on.

Both the substitutes up front deserve a mention. Nathan Fisher took his goal very well and if given chances he will score. Ward who came on to partner Fisher, looked a very useful player. He will offer different things to Purewal, but he appeared strong and held up the ball very well.

Yet at the end of the day Thompson was rightfully given the MOTM, all of the goals were of football league quality never mind the evo stik leagues and on a potentially tricky night he shone throughout.

Quick mention to Gary Brown, good display in the middle of the park and he also was able to push the ref over when she was in the way, much to the crowds amusement.

The crowd as expected was low, to be fair the weather was appalling and i still can’t properly feel my toes, but those who were there were treated to a much improved display.

Unfortunately i will miss the next two games as i am sunning it up in Las Vegas for a week :), but hopefully i will come back to see us still second in the table and edging closer to securing a play off spot.

Starting Team : Bell, White,Tait, Galbraith, Hopson, Mitchell, Brown, Davis, Thompson, Dowson, Purewal

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Wakefield preview, Ground sharing and Amos

Whatever happens on the pitch it has been a fantastic week for the club, the priority in my eyes is getting back to playing in Darlington over promotion this season, obviously in an ideal world both would happen, however the importance of being back in the town is huge for the long term stability and fan base of the club.

The news from Monday night that Darlington Rugby Club members have agreed to the groundshare at Blackwell Meadows is fantastic for all involved with the club and should provide a huge boost after recent results on the pitch.  Hopefully plans can be laid in place now, to help us get in back into the town as soon as possible.

This all being said we still have a game in Bishop tonight.  Sadly I did not make the game at Prescot  Cables on Saturday and have only the highlights to go on to judge our performance.

After a great unbeaten run was ended by Lancaster last month, we have now only won three out of the last seven. I don’t think it is a great coincidence that players have been out through suspension and injury in this period that we have struggled. Over both this season and last, we have struggled when the team has been chopped and changed. Obviously the majority of changes made recently have been forced and all we can hope for is those currently sidelined recover so we can have a stable side for the playoffs.

Before that though we need to make sure we are in the playoffs. A few weeks ago this was a given, but the recent results have meant it is not quite sewn up yet. I still fully expect us to finish in the top five, but with sides below winning plenty of games, we need to get back to that winning habit as soon as possible.

Which brings us to tonight, we host Wakefield looking for our first win since the victory over Cammell Laird two weeks ago. Wakefield are currently second bottom of the table and need the points as much as us, as they attempt to stay in the divison. We have yet to play them this season and still have the reverse fixture to come in April.

In recent weeks we have made three signings  to bolster the squad and they could all feature in the game. From the highlights Mitchell made an impressive debut on the right wing at the weekend and he is likely to keep his place.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of chances to the side maybe Dowson back in, or Hopson given a start against one of the weaker teams to try and get his confidence back. I think we will win the game comfortably and it will help us regain our confidence going in the final few weeks of the season.

Prediction, Darlington 3-0

 

Just a note, last night the 125th northern league anniversary match took place at Heritage Park , from NLZ and elsewhere it seems fans of  northern league clubs were against the match being played in the middle of the season for obvious reasons. A lot of teams, including Darlo, pulled out players from the game as we have every reason to do with our game tonight. The lack of a bar for the paying public probably didn’t help but the attendance was 305.

League chairman Mike Amos had this to say in his blog after the match last night

“March 25 2014.

 

It’s 125 years tonight since the Northern League was formed. A vast amount of work has gone into every aspect of our celebration, including tonight’s match between a Northern League XI and an FA XI.

 

 All who have attended – from the amazingly effective return of the Amateur Cup to that soul stirring Sunday morning in Elvet Methodist Church – appear not just to have enjoyed it but greatly to have appreciated the occasions and their significance. But what about those who didn’t attend? The crowd for tonight’s match at Bishop Auckland is just 305 – the two best represented clubs, I fancy, being Blyth Spartans and Whitby Town who’ve loyally come to watch theit guys in the FA team.

 

Apart from anything else, I have hundreds of programmes left – and if there’s ever been a better value programme for £1, it must have been pretty outstanding. So where were all the Northern League people? How many thought the Manchester derby on television preferable to the 125 th anniversary of the league they profess to embrace? Why were so many clubs simply not represented at all? Are we truly a league, as for so long has been attested, or just a loose affiliation of clubs and individuals for whom membership is simply a pretty blatant marriage of convenience?

 

As we enter upon the next 125 years, maybe these are questions we’d all do well to ponder – and to ask, if this is really all it means, what we’re doing here at all.”

As good a journalist as he may have been in his day, Amos showing his true colours again here and warming himself to the fans.

Darlington blown away by Curzon, Darlington 0 – 4 Curzon Ashton

Curzon Ashton came to the North East and brushed Darlington aside in windy conditions at Heritage Park, to all but secure the league title and promotion.

Recently I’ve been putting up my blogs/reports straight after the game, but thought it was best to wait till the day after the night before.

Even a win last night for the Quakers would have still meant our hopes to win the league were slim, but the title race was firmly put to bed by an impressive Curzon Ashton side.

Darlo lined up with one change from Saturday, Alan White returning to the side from suspension with Stephen Harrison missing out, Harrison was not in the squad.

From the start the Quakers struggled to cope with the gale like conditions, kicking into the wind in the first half, although until Curzon opened the scoring neither side created any chances of note. The opener came from a set piece, with striker Matthew Warburton being unmarked at the near post to head home.

David Dowson missed the Quakers best chance of the night minutes late, clear on goal Dowson pulled his shot wide of the post when he seemed certain to score. It would prove a cruical moment.

The game was effectively put to bed with two strikes not long after half time, Warburton struck again after being put through on goal, before a
defensive howler from Alan White allowed Ryan Brooke to make it 3-0.

Despite the wind advantage Darlo struggled to create any clear cut chances throughout the half, with Gary Brown seeing the best effort fly over the top of the goal. The nail was put in Darlo’s coffin in stoppage time when another defensive error, this time from keeper Mark Bell allowed Mark Bett the freedom of Heritage Park to tap home the fourth and send the travelling Curzon Ashton fans home delighted.

It was probably the hardest game to watch since we were relegated down the leagues two years ago as we were second best in every department. Our defence looked all over the show for the majority of the game and despite not creating a lot of chances, the visitors were clinical when they did come their way. Chris Hunter was a big miss at centre back and hopefully he will return from injury in the next few weeks.

Jordan Robinson getting injured early in the game did not help, as his departure left our defence vunerable, no blame can be attached to Lewis Wing who came on to make his debut in midfield, but it shows how small the squad is that he had to come on for his first appearance in such a big game.

While the squad is limited a couple of Gray’s tactical decisions were questionable last night, personally Hopson would have surely been a better choice than Wing to replace Robinson after his injury. Also I can’t really remember Nathan Fisher touching the ball in the entire game, I rate Fisher and at this level he is capable of scoring, but he is not a winger, hopefully between now and the end of the season he will get his chance to play through the middle.

Like so many times this season, when we go behind we seem to struggle and panic very quickly. The game plan changes and we stop trying to play football. This happened last night with either the ball just getting hit long up to the strikers or Thompson trying to do everything on his own. Tommo is a great player, but like the reverse fixture Curzon marked him out of the game and he was limited to a few long range attempts.

As for Curzon they were very impressive and deserve to win the title which is now surely just a matter of time. They were a lot more organised than we were and rarely looked like being broke down. Not sure of his name, but the tall bald centre back had our strikers in his pocket all night. At the other end Warburton took his chances well and showed why he has scored so many goals this campaign.

As much as I wasn’t impressed by John Flanagan’s comments last week, he got his tactics spot on and in awful conditions for playing football, him and his team adapted a lot better than Darlington. The desire they showed is something sides need to win leagues no matter level of football. As for the Quakers our heads dropped once the second and third goals went in, as did any urgency which we had previously shown.

So where do we go from here, we have eight games left this season and first priority will be to secure a playoff place. We still have a gap to the four sides below us, Farsley, Lancaster, Ramsbottom and Bamber Bridge who will be fighting for the last two playoff spots. If we finish second or even third it would secure home advantage for the semi finals, however we will need to improve on our performances/results against the other top teams if we are to achieve promotion.

In the next seven days we face Prescot Cables and Wakefield, which is a chance to return to winning ways and hopefully rebuild some of the confidence lost this week. With Hunter, Scott and Robinson all now injured the squad is looking very thin and it will be interesting to see if Martin Gray can bring anyone else in.

MOTM – A. Purewal – Slim picking for man of the match, however Amar still held the ball up well in tough conditions.

On the plus side from last night I won the free tickets to see Stuart Hall’s fight in Newcastle next week!!

Link to the 60 second highlights filmed by Official Darlington FC Website –

Darlington 3 v 1 Cammell Laird

A solid display again from Darlo tonight, we did more than enough to get the three points and were by far the better side. First half was very good going forward some fantastic moves and Thompson was at his brilliant best. Second half we tired, but the result never looked in doubt, as we moved into second place in the league.

The team lined up as expected except Jonny Davis started ahead of Dale Hopson in midfield.

Cammell Laird had an early chance, in which they hit the woodwork with a header from a corner, but apart from this they struggled to create much in a first half which was all one way traffic.

The only goal of the first half came thanks to a solo goal from Stephen Thompson, he cut inside from the left before firing home from outside the box, giving the opposition keeper no chance. Other chances in the first half saw Amar Purewal head over from a corner and a David Dowson  volley be tipped over the bar by the keeper.

Thompson, Tez Galbraith and Leon Scott all had great first halves, as we could have been a lot more than one goal up at the break.

One of the few negatives of the night came on the stroke of half time as Leon Scott left the field with an injury and was replaced for the second half by Dale Hopson, it was unclear how serious the injury was.

The second half saw us take a two goal lead with as good a team goal as you will see, a one two on the edge of the box between Hopson and Thompson then saw the ball fed through to Dowson who smashed the ball into the corner of the net.

Dowson was shortly after replaced by Nathan Fisher and the sub made an impact, as he won a penalty turning a Cammell Laird defender in the box. Galbraith stepped up to convert the penalty and add to the two goals he scored at the weekend to make the score 3-0.

The game died a little later on with neither side really threatening until the visitors pulled one back in stoppage time. Galbraith pulled out of a challenge on the half way line which led to Paul Foy running half the pitch and scoring as the game finished 3-1.

Overall a very good display all round, first half was as good an attacking display as we have had recently and the margin of victory could have been much greater. Next is Northwich Victoria on Saturday which will not be an easy game, however if we play like we did tonight we should be able to claim a fourth straight victory.

Team – Bell, Harrison, Tait, Brown, Galbraith, Robinson, Davis, Scott(Hopson), Thompson, Dowson(Fisher), Purewal

MOTM –Thompson – Faded after the break, but his contribution with the solo first goal and his part in the second were crucial in Darlo picking up the three points.

Darlington v Cammell Laird Preview

Tonight Darlington host mid table Cammell Laird knowing a victory will move them up to second in the league table for the first time this calender year.

Following on from two comfortable victories against Padiham and New Mills, both 2-0, the Quakers will be hoping to make it three wins in a row to keep their faint title hopes alive.

A win tonight would see Darlo move to within seven points of league leaders Curzon Ashton ahead of the two sides clash at Heritage Park a week today.  Many fans have not given up hope Curzon can still be caught after they dropped points on Monday night, when they drew 0-0 at home to Northwich Victoria.

The Darlington line up will feature at least two changes, both forced, which will leave Martin Gray with few options.

The two players not featuring tonight are Chris Hunter and Alan White. Hunter left the field on Saturday and has stated he will be out for at least 1-2 weeks via twitter. His centre back partner Alan White will also miss the game tonight as he serves the first of his two game suspension after picking up another yellow card at the weekend. Fortunately we have our centre back pairing from last season both fit and able to take their place.

Club captain Gary Brown has returned to the squad in the past month after recovering from a long term injury which has seen him miss the first half of the season. He will move across to centre back after making his first start of the season at right back on Saturday. Joe Tait is also expected to return the side after being out of favour in recent weeks.  The centre back has played in midfield since his return to the club from Gateshead, however he should partner Brown at the back tonight. After missing out on the starting eleven on Saturday Stephen Harrison will return to right back tonight.

The rest of the team should line as they did on Saturday, however the sides options on the bench will be limited. Keeper Peter Jameson, Jonny Davis  and Nathan Fisher wil be in the squad and are likely to be joined by two youngsters.

When the two sides met in Novemeber, Darlington were able to come away with a 2-0 victory, thanks to two second half goals from Nathan Fisher and Tez Galbraith. Cammell Laird are currently tenth in the league table, but will unable to reach the playoffs this time around and will have to settle for a mid table finish.

They have faced a tough run of fixtures recently which has seen them face, Curzon Ashton, Warrington Town and Ramsbottom United twice.  They picked up two victories against Ramsbottom including last Saturday when they won 2-0. The main threat from Cammell Laird is expected to come from top scorer Craig Cairns, who has scored fifteen times in the league this season.

Expected Side –  Bell, Galbraith, Harrison, Brown, Tait, Robinson, Hopson, Scott,Thompson, Dowson, Purewal.

Prediction – Darlington 3 v 1 Camell Laird

Darlo bounce back with a win

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Padiham 0-2 Darlington

Darlo bounced back from the home defeat to Lancaster City in midweek with a comfortable win away to Padiham.

Without ever reaching top gear Darlington were in control for the majority of the game, although the hosts did have a couple of good chances.

Darlington lined up with the same starting eleven and bench as the Lancaster game which meant no place in the squad for Joe Tait.

The only goal of the first half came through David Dowson with a fantastic finish after out muscling the last defender, the striker had earlier had a big penalty appeal turned down. Unfortunately for Dowson shortly after the goal he went off injured and was replaced by Nathan Fisher, we will have to wait to find out the extent of the injury.

Other chances of note for the Quakers in the first half saw defender Chris Hunter have a header from a corner cleared off the line, as well as Dale Hopson twice testing the home keeper.

Having not tested Mark Bell during the first half, Padiham came out in the second half as the better side with the Quakers being on the back foot for the first 15/20 minutes after the break.

Twice Bell had to pull off good saves, tipping one over the bar and one round his right hand post from close range.

Leon Scott replaced the tiring Dale Hopson and Darlo were able to regain control. The second goal came from a set piece, Tez Galbraith put a great ball into the box which Alan White headed back across the goal and Fisher tapped home into an empty net.

After the second goal Darlo weren’t troubled and could have added further goals with chances falling to Amar Purewal and Fisher, but the game was to finish 2-0.

It was a big win for the club and kept up our winning run away from home as we put the Lancaster result behind us.

No one really stood out today, however the defence looked solid apart from the spell at the start of the second half, Rob Ramshaw had another good game and hopefully his loan will be extended. Upfront hopefully Dowson will not be out for two long, but Fisher once he scored looked a different player, one with confidence and he will be expected to step up if Dowson misses a few matches.

Player Ratings

M.Bell – great afternoon for the keeper, solid throughout and pulled off three good saves when the game was 1-0. 8(MOTM)

T.Galbraith – few great set pieces from the left back one of which led to the second goal -8

S. Harrison – got forward well in the first half -7

A.White – grabbed an assist and led the defence well. -7

C.Hunter – another good display from the centre back -7

D.Hopson – not as effective as some games, had a couple of efforts in first half -6

R.Ramshaw – always had time on the ball kept the midfield ticking over -8

J.Robinson – Defensively solid in front of the back four-7

S.Thompson – Quiet afternoon for the playmaker unable to make his mark on the game-6

A.Purewal – Held the ball up well all afternoon -7

D.Dowson – great goal and good display till taken off injured. – 8

Subs, Fisher 8, Scott 7, Davis 7
Unused, brown, Jameson