Monthly Archives: November 2014

Darlo v Lancaster Preview

Tomorrow we host Lancaster City hoping to return to winning ways after three games without a win in all competitions.

Looking back at last Saturday’s game you can’t help but feel disappointed. For the second time this season we have dropped points against a ten man team when we have been leading. Also it was the second time this season we have conceded a late equaliser at Heritage Park when the game has appeared won.

If the points dropped against Droylsden, Farsley and Cltiheroe will prove crucial come April/May only time will tell.

Tomorrow’s opposition, Lancaster, have been disappointing this season, having just missed out on the playoffs last time around. They are currently in 13th place in the league, eleven points off the playoff places.

As for us, we have a few team selection headaches with Gary Brown, Chris Hunter and Liam Hatch all out through suspension.  As per the Northern Echo today, manager Martin Gray is still looking to bring someone in but this may have to wait till after the fixture.

The options for tomorrow appear to be loan signing Nearney or Lovegreen at centre back alongside Alan White. The other one may start at right back or Gray may opt to play winger Adam Mitchell in the position he played for 45 minutes last Saturday.

They will be a new addition to the squad tomorrow though, with signing Nelson Mota joining the club from Ramsbottom United. While we are always trying to improve the squad, signing a right winger doesn’t seem the priority at this time, with defensive numbers down, however he has experience in the Evo-Stik leagues and could prove to be a good addition to the squad.

 

The next few weeks could prove crucial for our season as we try and cope with the suspensions which have all come at the same time.  While the other teams in the promotion race continue to drop points, we need to avoid doing this ourselves.

 

 

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Clitheroe snatch point in stoppage time

Darlo 1 v 1 Clitheroe

Darlo dropped two points at home to mid-table Clitheroe after the visitors scored in the last few minutes of the game.

Sub Tez Galbraith had headed Darlo into the lead in the second half, before the Clitheroe number 9 tapped home to snatch a late point.

The visitors finished the game with ten men, after an elbow on Ian Watson when the score was 1-0.

Stephen Thompson had a huge appeal for a penalty turned down straight after the equaliser.

 

The Quakers started the game with Gary Brown at centre back, with new loan signing Josh Nearney starting at right back due to Alan White being unavailable. There was no place for Liam Hatch in the squad, however this was not due to suspension.

Darlo started well, with Graeme Armstrong missing from yards out and then hitting the crossbar.

However, it was the visitors who took control of the first period, mainly down their left side, with Pete Jameson making a 1v1 save to keep the score goalless.

Despite looking shaky at the back, Darlo always threatened at the other end with Armstrong again hitting the crossbar.

At half time Nearney was replaced due to a slight muscle concern with Mitchell dropping to right back and Galbraith coming on.

It was the sub who got the break through from a well worked corner routine. Mitchell crossed to the back stick allowing Galbraith to head past the keeper and give Darlo the lead.

The visitors were then reduced to ten men after an elbow on Watson, however the Quakers were unable to put the game to bed.

Sub David Dowson should have done this, when he broke through clear, however the goalkeeper saved well.

Clitheroe nearly equalised when a curling effort appeared to be heading for the top corner, however the post saved Darlington.

Darlo tried to run the game down, but were made to pay when a ball was fired across the box allowing their striker to tap in at the back post.

It wasn’t the end of the drama though, as Darlo had a huge penalty appeal in the final minute. Thompson went down easily, but appeared to be taken out by a mistimed lunge in the box, however the referee pointed for a corner rather than the penalty spot.

Overall it was a disappointing day for Darlington, despite creating chances, the performance wasn’t at the high level it has been in recent weeks.  We lacked White’s leadership at the back and the midfield was overrun for most of the first half.

You can’t expect to win every game though and having won the previous nine in the league we have been able to get ourselves into a position to challenge for the league which we weren’t in before.

As for Clitheroe, it was quite refreshing to see a side come and have a go and they will probably feel they deserved a point.

One downside for me today was from Martin Gray. There was a minute or so during the second half when he kept kicking balls on the pitch during play?? Not sure if something had happened to make him to do this or he was just trying very unprofessionally to time waste. It also didn’t surprise me to hear his post-match comments were directed at the referee rather than the performance for ourselves. While it appeared to be a penalty, the game wasn’t drawn in that instant, it was on the chances missed.

We move on anyway and remain top of the table, Northwich are now second two points behind us.

Clitheroe Preview

Clitheroe match

Tomorrow we host Clitheroe at Heritage Park looking to extend our lead at the top of the table. Following last weeks defeat at St Neots, we look to return to winning ways and make it ten league wins in a row.

I couldn’t make the game last week, however you have to be disappointed that our winning run was ended, despite it being against good opposition. Liam Hatch has rightfully taken the brunt of the stick, as it was always going to be a tough game and his stupidity made it much harder.

Despite the sending off, the players put in a great shift and there is a lot of positives to take from the game.

Looking at tomorrow, none of the suspensions kick in, so we should have a full squad available for the match. Clitheroe cant be taken lightly having beat Salford and Droylsden recently, however most fans will go there confident we can pick up another victory.

Gray surely has to bring someone in if possible for the games to come. While the youngsters have done well, i think we will struggle at the back with the lack of experience if we only have two senior players out of the four.

The other top sides in the division face tricky tests this week. Salford have games with Lancaster and Warrington, while Spenny face Droylsden and Farsley.

Annual Review and Accounts

The latest club accounts were released this week and they made interesting reading for anyone who hasn’t yet (link below).

While the Dan Burn money has obviously helped massively in the last year, everything for the club as a whole is looking a lot better.

http://www.darlington1883.co.uk/?p=7789

Gary Bennett

On Monday as part of my course i had the pleasure of meeting up with former Sunderland legend and ex Darlo/Player Manager Gary Bennett, to talk all things football.

For the Quakers he was part of the squad which so nearly got promotion in 2000, despite not playing in the playoff final. From defence he scored he a couple of memorable goals, one away to Hartlepool the other at Feethams against the mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup.Following Dave Hodgsons departure, Bennett took over and managed the club for just over a season.

Me and the others on my course got to ask pretty much anything we wanted for a good hour or so.

While he spoke of everything from the upcoming Tyne/Wear derby, to his current role with ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, i managed to get a little Darlo chat in.

When asked about his time managing the club he spoke of his enjoyment in the role and said despite the drama he was thankful to George for giving him the chance.

On George himself, “He was an interesting character.”

 

 

St Neots v Darlo FA Trophy Preview

Tomorrow we face the long trip to Cambridgeshire for our FA Trophy tie against St Neots.

Having cruised past Scarborough two weeks ago, we now travel to St Neots from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division. The draw could have been kinder to us from both a footballing and distance view point, however we go into the game in phenomenal form.

St Neots will provide tough opposition on the pitch, as they lie third in a league one step higher then ourselves.Despite their league position they haven’t got the best record at home, having been defeated three times already this season.

Despite the league being our priority this season, the FA Trophy offers great opportunities and a £3200 reward would be ours with a win tomorrow.

We are nearly at full strength going into the game, with Gary Brown’s suspension believed to not take effect till after this match.

Unfortunately Alan White will not be available for this game due to a suspension gained from multiple yellow cards this season. It gives Martin Gray the task of changing a back four which has kept seven clean sheets in a row. The options would be moving Brown to centre back and someone else dropping back to right back.   Even though they are all left footed, Scott, Watson and Galbraith all could be an option.  If Liam Hatch is now fit Gray may be tempted to play him at centre back, but I am always a bit sceptical about this.

The other piece of good news to come out this week is Pete Jameson signing a new contract with the club. Jameson has been fantastic this season and deserves the deal. It is good to see the club is prepared to give the young players contracts to allow us to financially benefit if they move onto to bigger things.

While we are in cup action league games will be played elsewhere and the Quakers will be hoping for the third weekend running the other results go our way. Droylsden could go top of the league table with a big enough win at home to Burscough, while Salford are hoping to return to winning ways at home to Harrogate RA.

 

The performances recently from the team have been fantastic and despite St Neots offering considerable opposition, if we play to our best I fancy us to come away with another result. If the game is drawn the replay would be at Heritage Park on Wednesday night.

 

Prediction St Neots 1 – 2 Darlo

Youthful Quakers lose on penalties as Brown sent off

Darlington 3 v 3 WhitbyTown, Whitby win 3-1 on penalties

Darlington were knocked out of the Doodson Cup tonight on penalties, with the team largely being made up of youth team players.

Club captain Gary Brown was harshly sent off in the last minute of the game and now faces a suspension.

The Quakers had led 3-0 at one stage thanks to goals from Pennal, an own goal and Stephenson.

 

Darlo tonight started with their youth team, with the exception of goalkeeper Mark Bell. Adam Cocks, Matty Lovegreen and Matthew Pennal all played, having had first team experience this season. The bench was made up of first team players, Brown, Pete Jameson, David Dowson, Terry Galbraith and Adam Mitchell to make up the eight required in the squad.
The visitors, whose starting eleven included former Quaker Dale  Hopson, started brightly with Bell being called upon on a couple of occasions.

It was however Darlo who opened the scoring with a well worked goal. The ball was won in midfield and played through to the pacey striker Pennal. The youngster made no mistake calmly tucking the ball into the bottom corner to give Darlo the lead.

His pace caused Whitby problems all half and he found himself in behind the defence  again before being taken out by the visiting goalkeeper.  Fortunately for Whitby he only received a yellow card, however Darlington made it 2-0 from the resulting free kick. Cocks floated it and it appeared to be headed into his own net by a Whitby defender.

It was then 3-0 minutes later as Stephenson pounced on a loose ball to hammer into the net.

Whitby however always looked dangerous going forward and pulled one back just before half time from the penalty spot.

Following an injury picked up just before half time, captain Brown was called on as a sub.

The second half saw the Quakers largely with their backs to the wall despite the further introductions of key players, Galbraith and Dowson.

Hopson who left Darlo in the summer for Whitby, then made it 3-2 capitalising on confusion in the home defence.

At the other end of the pitch Pennal picked up an injury, however with all the substitutions already made he stayed on the pitch, but could do no more than hobble around.

The equaliser came as a sickening blow to the young players late on, as Whitby got round the back with Gardner firing past Bell at his near post.

With the game heading towards penalties Brown lunged in and brought down his man. It was late, however it was a very harsh red.  He will now face a suspension which will affect all league and cup games.

The game finished 3-3 and as per Doodson Cup rules went straight to penalty kicks. Unfortunately for the Quakers only Dowson scored from the spot with, Lovegreen, Cocks and Galbraith all missing as Whitby went through.

 

I feel sorry for the young players tonight who gave it everything and were unfortunate not to go through given their performance. Going forward they looked impressive, Pennal had pace to burn and Stephenson just behind him was equally good.

 

The biggest thing to come out of tonight though, will undoubtedly be Brown picking up a suspension. It must be questioned why so many first team players had to be included in a competition which without disrespecting it, means absolutely nothing to our club. Gray now faces a headache for Saturday with no natural right back to replace him.

Positives can still be taken though and it was still a great experience for the young players, many of who will be good enough in the next few years to make the step up to the first team.

Mossley Game, Doodson Cup and Title Rivals

3 v 0  Mossley

What can be said, yet another victory for us and we appear in unstoppable form. The current run is very similar to the one in the second half of the Northern League season when we looked like winning every single game. While we could have dropped points against Spennymoor last week, we managed to scrape through before putting in another dominate performance at Mossley.

Looking back at the highlights today, we had chances for even more goals and despite Mossley  being on a good run, they rarely threatened.  Yet another clean sheet for the defence who are performing fantastically at the moment. White and Hunter as a centre back partnership really are a class above at this level. We have now conceded only nine goals in 17 league games, a fantastic record.

At the other end, it was good to see Galbraith score, as well as Dowson forcing the own goal. Both showed their quality despite not receiving huge amounts of game time recently.

As for Thompsons goal, truly incredible. Since the side has gone on a good run, Thommo’s confidence and influence in games has skyrocketed. Last season he was unplayable at times and hopefully he can keep up this form for the rest of the season.

 

Doodson Cup

Tonight we host Whitby Town in the Doodson Cup, which will surely be the highlight of the season.  The rule about having to play eight players who have been involved in the first team squad recently seems a bit ridiculous, even if it is aiming to help the prestige of the cup.

Cocks, Lovegreen, Scarr, Pennal and David Mitchell all will surely play a part having been in the first team squad recently, goalkeeper Mark Bell may also play. It provides game time for the youngsters and will be a valuable experience for them, but for the first team players it is just a game in which injuries need to be avoided.

 

Salford/Spenny/Droylsden

No fan can say they are disappointed when a rival gets beat and everyone involved with Darlo will have been happy to see Salford and Spennymoor both lose at the weekend.  Our winning run has coincided with Salfords slip in form. They have now only won 3 from 11 in all competitions.  When we met at Heritage Park they were well worth their victory, however we were struggling at the time and they didn’t come and destroy us in the same way Curzon Ashton did last season.  From our point of view hopefully they continue to drop points in the next few weeks and allow us to open a gap at the top of the league table. They will surely return to top form at some point though, as the quality of the players they have will shine through.

As for Spenny it appears defeat against us last week took the wind out of their sails, as they were  taken to pieces by Bamber Bridge, 6-1. They still have plenty of games in hand, however they are going to have to put a very strong run together to get back in the title race.

The interview with manager Jason Ainsley, is the perfect example of how much emotions run high in football. Had the interview been completed the day after the game it would have probably been very different. They like Salford have a fantastic squad  and in my opinion they will at least be in the playoffs come the end the season.

Droylsden have slipped under the radar some what recently with other results, however they could well be level on points with us on Saturday if they win their league game. Their goal scoring record has been tremendous this season and all we can hope is that we don’t come to regret out defeat at their place when we let a near certain victory slip.

Current Title Odds (betway), Salford 5/4, Darlo 6/4, Droylsden 11/2, Northwich 12/1, Spenny 14/1

 

FA Cup

Final word for this week has to be regarding the FA Cup. As much as I despise Shaun Reid for the Darlo/Warrington incident earlier in the season, it was a great result for the club and i was tad bit jealous it wasn’t us.

Also little mention to Rob Ramshaw, the ex Quaker who had his second spell at the club on loan last season. Having cemented his place in the first team he scored a hat-trick in the cup at the weekend, as Gateshead progressed to set up a meeting with who else but Warrington Town.

 

 

 

Mossley v Darlo Preview

Tomorrow we travel to Mossley looking to continue our fantastic winning run. Mossley come into the game in form themselves and have been one of the surprise packages in the league so far.

What a week we have had, a fantastic performance and result at Scarborough, followed by Wednesday night against Spennymoor.

Despite our local rivals having plenty of chances, the most important thing was always going to be the result and thankfully we got it.

Peter Jameson possibly had his best game in goal for the club pulling off two or three fantastic match winning saves.  In front of him, while not looking solid at all times, the defence made vital contributions and two goal-line clearances. The league table shows we have the best record in terms of the least goals conceded per game, as we came up with another two clean sheets this week.

Further forward Mitchell once again was outstanding and on another night could have scored twice.

In terms of Spennymoor’s chances this season, they will be challenging at the top, they still have games in hand and on Wednesday night looked the most impressive side we have faced this season.

Looking forward to tomorrow, nothing has come out in terms of injury news from Wednesday night. Liam Hatch and long term injury bound Jordan Robinson both are still out so I expect the squad to be the same. Not sure how fully fit David Dowson is, he came on at the end of the Spenny game, but wasn’t chasing down as much as normal, this may have been instructed by Gray though.

Hopefully the players won’t be too burned out after all putting in a hell of a shift on Wednesday night, as tomorrow will be a very tough test. I think we will just about come through the trip with the three points.

Prediction Mossley 1-2 Darlo, Purewal, Mitchell

 

Link to this month’s evo stik podcast, North/South sections after 50min approx.

https://audioboom.com/boos/2630043-the-evo-stik-npl-show-october-2014