Monthly Archives: September 2014

Darlo return to winning ways at Ossett Town

Ossett Town 0 – 2 Darlington

The Quakers ended a run of six games without a win today, as they comfortably saw off a tricky trip to Ossett Town. Amar Purewal returned to the side from injury and had a hand in both goals, scoring the first before setting up Graeme Armstrong for the second.

After drawing at Radcliffe Borough on Tuesday night, Martin Gray made three changes to his starting line-up, with Purewal, Alan White and Jordan Robinson returning to the side.

The Quakers were very good in the first half and it was the returning Purewal who showed why he has been missed in recent weeks.  The opening goal came on the half hour mark, with Purewal latching onto a poor back pass from Ossett, before finishing well passed the home keeper. He would then turn provider for his strike partner just a minute later, as top scorer Armstrong burst clear of the defence, following a lay off by Purewal, before slotting into the bottom corner of the net.

The 2-0 half time lead was well deserved with Ossett rarely testing Darlo goalkeeper Pete Jameson and when he was tested the saves were comfortable. Darlington  had other chances to score during the first half, with Armstrong twice going close with his head, as well as close efforts from Thompson and Mitchell.

The second half continued in the same vain, however Darlington did have a scare when Jameson handled a back pass. An indirect free kick was awarded to Ossett in the box, but they were unable to take advantage, as they made a meal of an attempted quick free kick.

The Quakers continued to dominate the game without creating many clear chances on goal, again Jameson was never fully tested and what he had to do he did well.

At the other end of the pitch Darlo’s best effort was a free kick from Adam Mitchell which the keeper only just got to. Liam Hatch and Nathan Fisher both came on in the second half, Hatch had a couple of sights of goal, once with a volley, the other occasion with a shot from the edge of the box.

Adam Cocks also came on in midfield and did not look out of place, with the youngster showing some good touches as the game petered out.

Despite not being able to add to the two first half goals, Darlington will come away more than happy with the result and performance against a tough side.

At the back we looked much stronger with White and Chris Hunter in the middle of defence and Leon Scott also had a better game at left back than his last two performances. Thommo was improved on his recent displays and linked up well on multiple occasions with the strikers.

It was however Amar Purewal’s day, he showed today how important a role he has in the team. Hopefully he can remain fully fit, as he offers support up front to Armstrong which we have badly been lacking in recent games.

Two other pieces of good news have come out from today’s game as well. At half time David Dowson was on the pitch doing some light running, which is hopefully a sign that he  is nearly ready to be back in the squad. Also in a post match interview, Gray confirmed a new signing would be completed by the club tomorrow.

The victory see’s us move up to sixth in the table, however we have played one game more than most of the divisions sides. We have two home games this week at Heritage Park, first on Wednesday we host Harrogate RA, before Padiham visit next weekend.

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5 Reasons for Darlo Fans to stay positive.

Right, as all around the club is currently doom and gloom, I am going to try and put a positive spin on things for our fans. Obviously we have not had the best few weeks, and I myself have been as critical as anyone. However football always for me offers that one dreaded word, hope. Here is my five reasons why we can still be positive.

  1. A return to Darlo

Like I said, I have been critical myself, including the slow progress of the return home. However in the background the work is in motion and this time next year we should be back playing in our own town at Blackwell Meadows. Yes, there is a lot of planning and work to be done, however the main priority when we were demoted was returning home, by the start of next season, we hopefully will be. Once back home, crowds will increase and it is a huge step forward for the club.

  1. Easier run of fixtures

While there are no excuses for the results and some of the performances in recent weeks, the next run of games gives us a chance to put some much needed points on the board and reignite our season. Tomorrow I expect Ossett Town to provide a tough test, however our five games after that see us face Harrogate RA, Padiham, Brighouse Town, Prescot Cables and Ossett Albion.  Without being disrespectful to these teams, they at least on paper, pose less of a threat then, Blyth, Salford, Farsley and Droylsden.

  1. Players return from injuries

Over the last two seasons, the majority of our goals have been scored by three players, Amar Purewal, David Dowson and Stephen Thompson.  Dowson and Purewal have both been injured for a while now and when they did return for one game they both picked up injuries straight away.  As for Thompson he looks like he has not been fully fit when he has played  at times this season. If we get these three fit and firing again it changes our team completely, they have been our most effective players since we moved to Bishop and no defenders at this level want to face them when on form.

  1. Playoffs/Ramsbottom

Last year we all saw how Ramsbottom turned their early season struggles around, snuck into the playoffs and gained promotion. As we found out the advantage of finishing second in the league table last year did us no favours, the difference between second and fifth is minimal.  We have a squad that is capable on their day of going on a run, we have done it over both the past two seasons and a good run of 5-10 games unbeaten can easily vault us into a strong position. If we are in the top five come the end of April, we have a chance.

  1. The Fans

Any club in our league would love to have the fan base and the potential fan base that we have. Crowds are dwindling and until we move back into Darlington, this is inevitable, we still though we are averaging 1000+. If you look at the crowds of every other side, not just in the division, but at this level of football, no other club comes close. Despite the fact that our club is at a much lower level in the pyramid than we have been for our entire history, we still attract more than double any side in the division whilst  still playing out of town.

Obviously this is all trying to look positive and a list could equally by made of the negatives currently. However just trying to be the eternal optimist and putting a positive spin on things.

Bring on a trip to Ossett Town on tomorrow.

Darlington 0 – 1 Salford City

Darlo suffered their second straight defeat today at home to top of the table Salford City. Ex Manchester United player Danny Webber scored the only goal of the game in the first half.

Darlington struggled in the first half, before improving after the break, however they were unable to find the net for the third straight game, as their recent struggles continue.

The Quakers made five changes to the team that lost at Blyth in midweek, Hunter, White, Scott, Reed and Fisher all coming into the side.  Leon Scott filled in at left back with Tez Galbraith not in the squad, Stephen Thompson was ruled out of the game through injury.

Title favourites Salford showed their quality, as they dominated the first half, Webber in particular a thorn in Quakers side. The only goal of the game came midway through the half, with Scott caught out of position allowing Webber to nip in behind the defence and lob goalkeeper Pete Jameson. Jameson made several stops in the 90 minutes, especially in the first half, to keep the Quakers in the match.

Darlo grew into the game as the first half wore on and Nathan Fisher should have equalised when the ball dropped to him in the box. Unfortunately though the Quakers recent luck continued, as the effort was blocked on the line and cleared. Throughout the half we struggled to get anyone up alongside striker Graeme Armstrong and while he worked hard, he was unable to feed on the scraps provided.

The second half, however , saw the Quakers take control and ultimately we were unfortunate not to get a point. Liam Hatch came on and caused problems, however our nearest efforts came from set plays, where we always looked dangerous. From one of these, the Quakers again saw an effort cleared off the line. Fisher was then involved in a challenge in the box, however penalty appeals were waved away.  Defender White was sent up front later on, but to no avail as Darlo’s run without a win grew to five games.

Once again we managed one half with a good performance, as at half time I could only see one winner. The second half will give the fans some encouragement, however we are now eight points behind Salford. Salford will play better this season and drop points, but despite not being at their best you could still see they had a lot quality.

The distribution from our defenders today was pretty appalling at times and when it was better the front line struggled to hold the ball up.

Adam Reed is really struggling, despite playing in League 2 last season he looks a long way from a professional at the moment, constantly outmuscled and he is yet to make an impact on any game so far. Leon Scott also struggled and was easily beaten by Webber on multiple occasions during the first half.

We really are missing our key injured players at the moment, the facts are all that’s needed to show this. Over the last two years, Dowson, Purewal and Thompson have scored the majority of our goals, in our last five games, when the first two have not been fully fit or injured, we have only scored twice.

Anyway onto Radcliffe Borough on Tuesday, when a win is badly needed to reignite our promotion push.

Blyth Spartans Post Match, Warrington Town Decision and Salford City Preview

A busy week for the club has seen both positives and negatives, as we prepare for our game tomorrow. We exited the FA Cup on Tuesday night with a 3-0 defeat at Blyth Spartans. Today has brought the good news however, that we have been awarded a 2-0 victory for our opening day game against Warrington Town which had been abandoned.  Finally tomorrow we have a huge league fixture as we host Salford City.

Blyth Spartans Defeat

Tuesday night was a hard defeat to take, despite the final score-line it could have been easily been us progressing to the next round. However it was the same story we have seen many times already this season, with Darlo being unable to keep up a good performance for the 90 minutes.  The first 40 minutes of the game, we were by far the better side and could have easily been a couple of goals to the good, however we didn’t take our chances yet again and were made to pay.

The second half, in comparison to the first, was awful. From the first minute, we did not get going and Blyth were all over us. The control which we had on the game, had completely disappeared and panic set in. Too many players had poor second half’s and we never really looked like getting back into the game once we went behind.

While he was out of his natural position, Jordan Robinson had a shocking second half and was caught out on multiple occasions, including for the first goal. On the other side at left back, the usually reliable Tez Galbraith, was out of sorts and this allowed Blyth in behind on multiple occasions.

Liam Hatch was reverted to centre back and his lack of knowledge/experience in this position was shown in the second half, as he was tortured at times including for the last two goals.

The midfield didn’t do much better, with Mitchell, Thompson and Cocks all having good first half’s, but disappearing after the break.

Armstrong worked hard and was unlucky not to score in the first period with a header that crashed against the bar, however strike partner Noble struggled throughout.

The only two for me who had good games were Jameson in goal and Portas in the middle. Jameson made multiple stops in the second half to keep the score down to three, while Portas still showed his class even when we were struggling.

Already this season we are seeing similar tendencies cropping up in games, not taking our chances, struggling to put together a performance for 90 minutes and the inevitably hoof ball late on trying to get back into games.

While Martin Gray can’t be to blame for the chances that are missed his tactics have come under criticism this season, more so than at any previous time in his regime.

I was surprised and a bit disappointed when I arrived at Blyth to see the line-up we went for, in particular Hatch at centre back. I know he has played here at his previous spell for the club, however in the long term it cannot be good for the side to have two of the starting back line not playing in their natural positions.

The decision may have been forced upon Gray, as despite Hunter and White both being on the bench, neither took part in the half time warm up. Either way this is a concern for the club, that with such a small squad we are picking up multiple injuries, or that the manager made such glaring mistakes in deciding our starting eleven.

It also shows what the manager thinks of Adam Reed, as far as I am aware he was fully fit the other night, however Gray decided to play Cocks in the centre of midfield instead.

Overall though it is disappointing to see us crash out of the FA Cup in a tie we could have won. Credit though has to go to Blyth, they tore us apart in the second half and I was particularly impressed by our former player, Paul Robinson.

Warrington Town decision by Evo-Stik

Finally after a month and a half, a decision has been made by the Evo-Stik league in regards to our opening day abandoned fixture against Warrington Town. Without going over all ground, it is good to see that we have been awarded a 2-0 victory. The game was all but won, and I feel the right decision has been made. It has come at a time in which we are struggling and the three points make a huge difference to how our league position looks, we are now sixth just five points from top.

Some will say that despite being awarded the victory, a harsher punishment could have been awarded to Warrington. Possibly a points deduction or a larger fine, however for the time being I am just pleased we have got the victory and haven’t got to replay the match from 0-0.

Salford City Preview

So after a tough two weeks on the field, we face arguably our toughest opposition of the season so far. Salford have won all but one game this season, and are rightfully odds on favourites already to win the league. Since the class of 92 have taken over, money has been put into a side that last season finished in mid table. The most notable being the signing of former Manchester United striker Danny Webber.

From my opinion though, the result will be down to how we play. We have shown against Warrington and in particular the whole game against Spennymoor, if we play to our best we can beat any team at this level. However we will have to improve drastically on our recent performances to get close to this.

Going into tomorrow’s game though, we have a long list of injury doubts which will affect the starting line-up. Dowson and Purewal both missed Tuesday night after injuries picked up last Saturday. White, Hunter and Scott all were in the squad, but did not play, and all of their fitness levels are unclear. Finally Thompson hobbled off late on Tuesday, and despite struggling at times this campaign, I’m sure every fan would much rather he be fit then not.

Prediction – Darlington 1-1 Salford City

Spartans hold Quakers in FA Cup.

Darlington 0 – 0 Blyth Spartans

Blyth Spartans held Darlington to a 0-0 draw today at Heritage Park, the sides will now replay on Tuesday night at Blyth. Darlo hit the post three times, including from the penalty spot, Blyth also hit the woodwork late on.

The two sides from the north east both could have progressed from the game today, in what was far from a boring stalemate, however neither could find the back of the net in 90 minutes and we will have to wait until Tuesday night to find a winner.

Darlo made three changes from the side that drew with Farsley on Wednesday night, Jordan Robinson, Adam Reed and Amar Purewal all came into the side.

The first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action at either end, Blyth just about shading a first half where both defences were on top. Despite dominating, Blyth did not really trouble Quakers keeper Peter Jameson, but they had a couple of penalty appeals waved away. Darlo’s best opening came from a free kick when captain Gary Brown nearly scored, but he could not get enough on his touch to trouble the opposition goalkeeper.

The second half however was much more open, with Quakers being given the perfect chance to score from the penalty spot.  Young striker Ryan Noble got the wrong side of a defender and went to ground in the box. However Tez Galbraith, normally reliable from twelve yards, could not convert as Blyth keeper Peter Jeffries pushed the shot onto the post.

Noble would then twice be denied by the same post, as the Quakers failed to break the deadlock. Noble was first played in on goal by strike partner Graeme Armstrong, his strike across goal beat the keeper, but it came straight back off the upright. The second was an effort from a tight angle after Adam Mitchell had pulled the ball back, but again Noble was inches away, as the post came to Blyth’s aid for the third time.

Blyth themselves created chances in the second period and on a number of occasions got in behind the Quakers back line. They also hit the woodwork with virtually the last kick of the game, thankfully for Darlo though it rebounded back into play.

Overall Darlo will be disappointed not to have progressed at the first time of asking, especially after being given a penalty. Blyth will fancy their chances now on their own patch and despite rarely troubling Darlington’s goal, they showed their quality and controlled large portions of the first half.

Darlo have picked up a few injury concerns ahead of Tuesday’s replay. Both Amar Purewal and David Dowson have just returned from injury and both were taken off injured again today. Dowson, having come on for Purewal, barely lasted 15 minutes. Chris Hunter may also be a doubt after being on the receiving end of a shocking tackle late on which could have warranted a red card.

Portas was the star man for me today, he keeps the ball ticking over and just never seems to give it away. Mitchell was lively as ever and Thommo showed glimpses of his undeniable quality. I wasn’t too surprised to see Leon Scott left out today, he has struggled in recent games, however his replacement Adam Reed failed to really make an impact on the afternoon. Up front Noble looks a little lightweight, but he will feel unlucky to have twice been denied by the post.

So we head North up to Blyth on Tuesday for the replay and on today’s basis, there is no reason why we can’t progress into the second qualifying round. The draw for the next round takes place tomorrow lunch time at 12pm and should be on the FA’s website shortly after.

Late Jameson error gifts Farsley a point

 Darlington 1 v 1 Farsley 

 

Goalkeeper Pete Jameson‘s late mistake saw third place Farsley snatch a point away to Darlington tonight. Darlo had been cruising towards a valuable win, thanks to a header from left back Tez Galbraith, before Jameson failed to deal with a looping cross allowing Farsley to equalise.

Young Jameson has so far in his Darlo career been nearly faultless and tonight dealt with the minimal work with ease until the final few minutes. The Quakers were looking to get back to winning ways after defeat at Droylsden on Saturday, but only picked up a point as their stuttering start to the season continued.

Darlington made two changes from Saturday as Leon Scott and Adam Mitchell both returned to the starting line-up.

Darlo failed to get into top gear throughout tonight’s match at Heritage Park, but were still the better team against a Farsley side who are expected to challenge for a playoff spot come May.  The home side came into the game more as the first half wore on and were able to create some half chances. The Quakers then appealed for a goal after a scramble from a corner, but the officials ruled that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

 Farsley had their own moments in the first half and at times played some neat football without creating many opportunities, in particular midfielder Nightingale showed his quality.

The second half continued in the same vain, with Farsley playing some good stuff without creating any chances of note. Darlo were able to create the better chances throughout and opened the scoring with yet another goal from a set piece. A short corner saw Thommo clip a high ball to the back post where Galbraith timed his run perfectly to head home.

The more the game went on, the further the Quakers sat back and ultimately this cost us minutes from time, as Jameson appeared to fumble the ball into his own net.

Even after the equaliser, Darlo had a couple of late chances to win the game, however a header went just wide and a Purewal deflected shot was saved.

Adam Mitchell once again stood out from the rest of the players on the pitch tonight, as he ran himself into the ground while showing great touches when on the ball.

Thommo struggled to get into the game again, however he was able to pick up the assist for the goal, which on another day could have been the winner.

Leon Scott seemed off the pace in midfield and isn’t showing the form that we have seen over the past two years. He has struggled in all the games I have seen this season except the Spenny game and is currently being outshone by Mitchell and Portas.

Tonight was my first viewing of Ryan Noble, he didn’t really have an impact on the game, pace to burn, but not a lot else. Still he should be given a chance if Gray rates him and hopefully he can get off the mark sooner rather than later.

 

While some fans will think I am pressing the panic button early, eight points from five games is not what we were after wanting at this stage. In a division where only one team gains automatic promotion dropping silly points need to be avoided, especially with the standard of teams challenging for the title. This week we have only been able to pick up one point from a possible six and in both games have been in comfortable winning positions.  On the other side of the coin, if we had won the game tonight 1-0, I would have been pretty pleased all round, winning without us playing at our best.

It is far from a lost cause, but even at this early stage we could do with putting a run of wins together. We next host Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup on Sunday, a game which provides a great opportunity for the club, before we host league leaders Salford City a week on Saturday.

Darlo Team – Jameson, Brown, Hunter, White, Galbraith, Scott, Mitchell, Portas, Thompson, Noble, Armstrong

Droylsden 2 v 1 Darlo Aftermath

Well, where do we begin, our controversial start to the season continued on Saturday, as we lost our unbeaten record in a game overshadowed by crowd trouble which caused the game to be suspended for twenty minutes. Unfortunately due to other commitments I missed my third away game in a row, and I call myself a fan! So the below is just what I’ve picked up from other fans/reports/forum.

 

Fan Trouble

Despite the result, the most worrying aspect of Saturday is the behaviour of some of our so called fans, who had made the trip across the country. Since being demoted by the FA we have had a few incidents involving crowd trouble, most notably before the weekend, the playoff tie with Ramsbottom in May. For those who don’t know, the game at Droylsden was stopped for twenty minutes as the referee took the decision to take the players from the field after fighting had broke out in the stands.

Every club with a large support has a higher potential for incidents at games home or away. However this cannot in any way excuse what happened on Saturday, even before the game was stopped the behaviour was way out of line and the chanting well beyond the boundaries classed as ‘banter’.

The problem we have at this level is it hard to police large groups of fans without extra costs. Any away game we have, the chances are the only sort of security will be a handful of volunteering stewards, who can’t really cope with any serious incidents.

Performance

From what I’ve heard we were very good before the trouble broke out and once they were down to ten men I presumed we would push on to get the three points. It seems the players thought this as well, Droylsden obviously played very well in the second half and the winner sounded like a cracker. However in any level of football if you are winning against ten men, you would hope you will be able to close out the three points.

In the games this season we haven’t won, our away trips to Burscough, West Auckland and Droylsden, we have had enough simple chances to win the games. Already the missed chances are proving costly, Adam Reed the biggest culprit at the weekend.

Players

I was surprised to see Scott, Dowson and Mitchell all out of the starting line-up. However it appears Dowson and Scott had both picked up knocks in mid-week. Saturday again showed how much we miss Dowson when he doesn’t play, his work rate on its own is phenomenal never mind his goals. Not sure what the reason for Mitch dropping to the bench was as he has been the standout player so far this year.

Jordan Robinson still is unconvincing for me as a defensive midfielder, he just doesn’t look very comfortable on the ball and is unable to pick out forward passes.

Everyone is aware Thommo is struggling, he keeps showing glimpses, but nowhere near as much as last season, when he won games for us on multiple occasions. However my opinion is we should stick with him, as the saying goes form is temporary, class is permanent.

Our season start/ overall league

 Last season we struggled in the early portion of the campaign and dropped enough points that Curzon had gathered a large points lead over ourselves. This season in the league we have started with a mixed bag, from four league games we have won two, drawn one and lost one.

Ideally the Warrington game will be awarded to us and the start wouldn’t look too bad, however at the moment we lie mid-table some way off the top placed teams.

Elsewhere in the league, Salford have obviously impressed, although it was encouraging to see Spenny draw with them on Saturday.

Our next three games are already huge. Home league games from Farsley and Salford, with the cup tie against Blyth in between. Hopefully we can pick up three wins from three and get us back on track after our defeat at the weekend.