Monthly Archives: February 2015

Darlo return to winning ways

Darlington 2 v 1 Bamber Bridge

Darlington overcame Bamber Bridge thanks to goals from midfielders Tom Portas and Leon Scott to earn a crucial victory following two defeats in the last week.

Portas struck a magnificent solo goal mid-way through the first half to give the Quakers the lead.

Scott then doubled the lead firing home after Stephen Thompson had pulled the ball back.

Bamber pulled a goal back before half time thanks to Alistair Waddecar.

Terry Galbraith missed a chance to seal the victory in the second half from the penalty spot, following a hand ball in the box.

Following the defeats at Kendal Town and Farsley, Martin Gray chose to make two changes to his starting line-up. Following his dismissal at Farsley, Alan White was dropped from the squad for the game. Captain Gary Brown moved to centre back, with Adam Mitchell dropping to right-back. Leon Scott and David Dowson came into the starting eleven, with Graeme Armstrong sitting on the bench.

Bamber Bridge gave a debut to ex Manchester City striker Jon Macken.

The Quakers were desperate to return to winning ways and they put in a strong performance from the word go.

However, it was Bamber that had the first near miss when Waddecar struck a brilliant volley just wide of the goal.

Portas has been fantastic all season in the centre of midfield and today saw him score one of the goals of the campaign. He picked the ball up just inside the Bamber half, accelerated through two defenders before hitting an unstoppable drive from 20 yards out with the outside of his right foot.

Not long later the Quakers dominance was shown, as Scott made it 2-0 with his third of the season. Terry Galbraith played Thompson in behind the defence and his pull-back was put away by the midfielder.

Darlington’s defence has until recent weeks been excellent, but it was unlocked just minutes after Scott’s goal.  A simple ball between two defenders saw Waddecar go clear and he finished well to grab his 16th goal in the league this season.

Before half-time Darlington would suffer a set-back with Brown leaving the field due to injury. It was unclear what the injury was, as it had not been caused by a tackle, however, he was unable to carry on and Liam Hatch replaced him in defence.

Nathan Cartman should have made it 3-1, shortly after half –time when he failed to convert a shot from inside the box.

Dowson was replaced by target man Graeme Armstrong and he immediately had an impact, as his flick was handled in the box by a Bamber defender, with the referee pointing to the spot.

Unfortunately for the Quakers the usually reliable Galbraith was unable to convert the penalty, as he saw his effort come back into play off the post.

Cartman then was unlucky as a sharp left footed volley forced Lee Dovey in the away goal into an excellent save.

Tension rose around Heritage Park, as the Quakers ran the clock down, but despite only holding a one goal lead, Jameson in goal was rarely called upon.

A fantastic win, with a much improved performance from the Quakers was exactly what was needed and Darlington fans will feel a lot better about the rest of the season tonight.  Many put in good performances, including Thompson and substitute Hatch. However, Portas was the man of the match by a mile. On three or four occasions he picked up the ball, drove at the Bamber defence and his goal was richly deserved.

Gray was brave today leaving Armstrong and White out, but it paid off, with a performance full of energy, which should have led to a victory by more than one goal.

Elsewhere Salford won heavily, 6-0, at bottom of the table Padiham. Northwich Victoria also won, however, Spennymoor were held to a 0-0 draw by Prescot Cables. The results leave the Quakers still three points behind Salford, but with two games in hand.

Darlington team – Jameson, Mitchell, Brown(Hatch), Hunter, Watson, Thompson, Galbraith, Scott, Portas, Dowson(Armstrong), Cartman. Subs not used – Bell, Mota, Cartwright

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Darlo crumble to the Mintcakes

Kendal Town 4 v 2 Darlington

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A shocking open 15 minutes saw Darlington fall to only their fourth defeat of the league campaign, as Jordan Connerton helped himself to a hat-trick for Kendal.

Connerton scored all three of his goals in an opening quarter of an hour which led to Quakers captain Gary Brown being hauled off the pitch.

Darlo came back into the game in the second half thanks to a great strike from Ian Watson and a header from Alan White.

Byron Andrews then sealed the game for Kendal with the pick of the six goals.

Chris Hunter and White both returned to Martin Gray’s squad, however only White came into the starting eleven. Loan signing Anthony Cartwright continued at right-back with Liam Hatch dropping to the bench.

From the word go the hosts were on top of Darlo and opened the scoring after just three minutes. Cartwright was beaten easily by his man and although keeper Pete Jameson made a great stop, Connerton was on hand to tap into the net.

Darlo have one of the best defensive records in any division in the country, however today they were all at sea and it was 2-0 inside ten minutes. Connerton then got in the behind the Darlington defence, beat the onrushing  Jameson to the ball and slid the ball into the unguarded net.

Inside quarter of an hour the Quakers horror show continued when Brown misplaced  a simple back pass to Jameson, who then made a meal of his clearance, which he hit against Connerton, allowing the forward another tap in, as he completed the easiest hat-trick he will ever score.

Brown was then hauled off and replaced by Hunter at the centre of defence.

The Quakers grew into the game as the half wore on, but struggled to create any clear cut chances. Nathan Cartman came the closest to pulling a goal back, when his powerful strike was well saved by the Kendal keeper.

Early in the second half David Dowson and Hatch came on for Graeme Armstrong and Cartwright, as the Quakers changed to a 3-4-3 formation. The second half was better from Darlington, as they finally troubled the home goal.

They got themselves back into the game with a great strike from left-back Ian Watson. Watson cut inside onto his right foot before curling a strike in off the post.

New signing Cartman’s struggles in-front of goal continued when he should have pulled another goal back. Hatch caused trouble in Kendal’s defence and the ball fell to Cartman, but he could not get a clear connection to the ball allowing the keeper to easily save.

Hatch then hit the woodwork with a header at the back post, as the Quakers ramped up the pressure.

Kendal missed chances of their own to seal the game as holes appeared in Darlington’s defence while they pushed numbers forward, however Jameson made a couple of important stops.

White then it made 3-2 with five minutes to go, as he powered home a header from a Tom Portas cross.

However, there was to be no great comeback as Kendal sealed the win just minutes later, when  Andrews wasn’t closed down  by Hunter and he smashed a terrific strike into the top corner.

Analysis

The first thing to say is the result/performance needs to be put into perspective, one bad afternoon does not make the team a bad one, however, it does make things very interesting in the title race.

The defence were all over the shop from the word go, not just Brown, but Cartwright, White and Jameson also had poor games. Watson for me was our man of the match by a mile, despite the destruction around him he still kept focused in defence and attack, being rewarded with a great goal.

Too many elsewhere also had off games, Nelson Mota, Stephen Thompson and Cartman all struggled to make a big impact.

The Cartman debate will rumble on until he finds some form, but he is really struggling at the moment. In six starts since his transfer from Harrogate he has found the net only once, from the penalty spot. However, his record speaks for itself, he has scored 30+ goals already this season. Questions have to be asked about if our style of play suits him, you would like to think this would have been thought about before we signed him. Yet, it has to be questioned why we continue and continue to play long high balls into a striker who is 5”6 at most?

As always when we struggle the long(hoof) ball debate comes up. Today at times we seemed clueless and it was just time and time again simple punts up the pitch, neither of the two goals today came from this.  If we are going to go this way when behind I would have preferred to see Armstrong stay on the pitch, as winning balls in the air and holding it up are two attributes he brings, which despite his finishing Cartman cannot.

I don’t think Kendal were a particularly good side and it was easy to see why they have scored and conceded so many goals. We handed them the three goals early on and you can’t give any side in this division a three goal start.

The bad day was completed with news of a big victory for Salford which sees them return to the top of the league table. We now trail them by three points, however, we still hold three games in hand.

Hopefully we can move on quickly from today and we will have to, as we travel to playoff chasing Farsley on Tuesday night.

Darlo Team  – Jameson, Cartwright(Hatch), Brown(Hunter), White, Watson, Thompson, Mota, Portas, Galbraith, Armstrong(Dowson), Cartman. Subs not used Bell, Scott

Kendal Town v Darlington Preview

This weekend it is Kendal v Darlo take two. The original fixture was arranged to take place on New Years Day, however the game only lasted 15 minutes before being abandoned in controversial circumstances.

By the time kick-off came around it appeared clear that the match should not start, however it did, which led to a farcical quarter of an hour.

We were able to make it three wins in a row with one of our most impressive performances of the season last week at Harrogate RA, as we cruised to a 5-1 victory. Many players had stand out games including hat-trick hero Tez Galbraith, Liam Hatch, Graeme Armstrong and Nelson Mota.

Mota has received more game time in recent week, which have led to him showing what he is capable of. Last week, particularly in the first half, he shone and was able to constantly trouble the Harrogate defence.

Martin Gray may be tempted to not make any many changes to his starting eleven and for me there will only be one. Alan White returns to the squad following his suspension last week and despite Hatch having a good game, I expect him to come straight back into the starting line-up at the heart of defence.

The sides meeting earlier in the season became like a training exercise for the Quakers. Inside the opening ten minutes, Kendal had two men shown straight red cards, as Darlo went on to run riot in a 7-0 victory.

Elsewhere this week Spennymoor picked up six points and they can’t be fully counted out of the title race yet, as they sit nine points behind us with a game in hand.   While on the other side of the coin, Northwich Victoria slipped to another defeat which leaves them six points behind us.

Away from the field, the club has this week announced the kit, which has been decided by the fans for next season. The kit has thinner lines than the hoops usually associated with the club, however I feel it should go down well in what could be a historic return to home come the start of next season.

It is another crucial week for the club in terms of achieving promotion with two tricky away games. Following the game at Kendal, we then travel to Farsley on Tuesday night with the incentive that two victories would open up at least a three-point lead at the top of the league table.

No game can be taken for granted in this league, as Salford found out when they lost 6-0 at Kendal in November, however following our performance last week I expect us to return to the north east with all three points.

 

Prediction

Kendal Town 0 – 2 Darlington

Darlo cruise past Harrogate to stay top

Harrogate RA 1 v 5 Darlington

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A Terry Galbraith hat-trick helped the Quakers to a third win in a row at playoff chasing Harrogate RA this afternoon.

Winger Nelson Mota gave Darlington the lead mid-way through the first half.

Galbraith scored a second half hat-trick from midfield, with Graeme Armstrong also getting on the score sheet.

With Alan White and Adam Mitchell both out due to suspension, manager Martin Gray was forced to shuffle the pack.

Andrew Cartwright made his debut for the club at right-back, having signed on loan yesterday from Sunderland.  Ian Watson came back into the defence having missed the mid-week win at Padiham due to injury.

Chris Hunter was withdrawn from the starting line-up just before kick-off, meaning veteran Liam Hatch started the game at centre-back alongside club captain Gary Brown.

The Quakers started off brightly and a mix up in the home defence should have led to Armstrong opening the scoring. After a defender had left his own keeper stranded, Armstrong headed against the post with the keeper out of position.

Harrogate showed why they started the day sixth in the league, though, as they more than matched Darlington for large portions of the first half, with Mal Farquharson in particular proving a thorn for the league leaders. Peter Jameson in goal had to tip a shot round the post, with Brown also having to clear off the line.

Darlo did though take the lead thanks to a moment of quality from Mota. Galbraith found space in the box, however did not pull the trigger, instead laying the ball off to Mota who drilled into the corner of the net for his second goal in as many games.

The Quakers regained control of the game as the half wore on, with Galbraith and Nathan Cartman both coming close to doubling the lead.

The game was finely poised at half-time, but an early second half goal from Darlo saw them cruise to victory. Galbraith hit a first time shot from the edge of the box, straight at the Harrogate goalkeeper, however he fumbled the ball into the net off the post.

The third shortly followed, as Armstrong scored the pick of Darlo’s goals, cutting inside onto his left foot before passing the ball calmly into the corner of the net.

By now Darlington had taken complete control and Galbraith made it four when his shot across goal from the left wing went in off the post.

He then completed a fabulous afternoon for himself when Stephen Thomspon fired a low cross to the back post and Galbraith tapped home for his first senior hat-trick.

Harrogate, to their credit, never gave in and scored the best goal of the game in the final few minutes with an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner.

It was to be the Quakers day, though, as the large travelling contingent in a crowd of 899 went home happy.

Galbraith and Armstrong in particular were in great form today, with Hatch at centre back also having a very good game after a few early jitters.

Mota in the first half had his best performance for the club, as he kept finding pockets of space and deservedly got a goal.

On his debut young Cartwright looked solid, especially defensively.

It was to prove another frustrating afternoon for Cartman though, against his former club, but the goals will come.

Before the Salford City game two weeks ago I felt it was a game they had to win, not us. Following the 2-0 defeat it was all about how we would bounce back and thankfully we have won three games in a row.

Next up for Darlington is a trip to Kendal Town next Saturday.

Dadrlington team – Jameson, Cartwright, Brown, Hatch, Watson, Thompson, Galbraith, Portas(Cocks) , Mota(Scott), Cartman(Dowson), Armstrong. Unused subs – Bell, Lovegreen.

MOTM – Terry Galbraith

Darlo v Ossett Town Preview

Well the club has had quieter weeks.  The aftermath of last weekend’s day at Salford, rumbles on and is likely to for a considerable time. However, now the FA has stepped in and hopefully what needs to be resolved can be quickly so we can all move on.

Away from the Salford/Darlo debacle there has been some great news for the club, which has sadly been massively overshadowed by last weekend. Further planning details on our return home have been released.

Towards the end of last week details of our planning permission application to Darlington Borough Council were published online and further details appeared this week.

While no one will trundle through all the pages of data the key information for me that has come out is the capacity. We will aim for a capacity of 2500 with the potential to grow to 3000 in the near future. For me this is perfect and a great platform for the club to build on.  Hopefully all the planning goes through ok and we can get to work on the fundraising and development of the return home.

The other news this week was the rearrangements of our outstanding fixtures which see us have a very busy March. The standout game from this is our trip to title challengers Northwich Victoria being scheduled just three days after we play them at Heritage Park. Depending on the how the results go for those at the top over the next month that week could be huge.

Following last week’s game the suspensions have been given against Alan White and Adam Mitchell, but neither of these come into effect for Saturday’s game.  White has been banned for one game, with Mitchell receiving a two game ban.

If both Mitchell and White are suspended at the same time, the preferred option would be to move Gary Brown to centre back and play Jordan Robinson at right back. The other option would be Liam Hatch starting at centre back with Brown remaining at right-back.

I expect, despite the sending off, Mitchell may return to the starting line-up as he gives us a more attacking option. If he does start it will be either Terry Galbraith or Leon Scott who miss out.

This is the only change that I could see being made, with any in defence or up-front unlikely to take place.

Hopefully Nathan Cartman will be able to get off the mark for the club. Despite showing good movement and work rate he has only had a couple of sights of goal so far in his two games.

Ossett have struggled all season, however despite their current league position of 18th they have games in hand on all of the sides around them.

Most will expect us to beat Ossett Town on Saturday and it has quickly become a game which we need to win. Despite the games in hand we can ill-afford to let the two teams above us move any further ahead.

Prediction Darlington 2 – 0 Ossett Town

Attendance: 902

Disappointing Day for Darlo

Salford v Darlo 14/15

Salford v Darlo 14/15

Salford City 2 – 0 Darlington

Well that was eventful.

Before the game I likened the occasion to that at Spennymoor two years ago, however, the game much more resembled our play off defeat at home to Ramsbottom United last May. Like that night, we lost the game 2-0, finished with nine men on the pitch, Martin Gray was sent to the stands and to cap it off some of our so called ‘fans’ took it upon themselves to overshadow the whole occasion with violence.

The FANS

I might as well get the unpleasantness out the way first.  Since being demoted we have unfortunately been involved in a number of incidents with some of the club’s so called fans causing trouble at games vs Billingham Town, Ramsbottom United, Droylsden and now Salford City.

I personally did not see any of the major incidents, however there appear to have been a few. One in the bar before the game, verbally attacking Salford volunteers, destruction of a sign, attacking a steward, a flare and the slightly amusing two attempts to pull down the linesman’s shorts.

There is no excuse for any of the above, however, one of the problems facing us as a club and the real fans is trying to stop it. The hooligan elements of our support will inevitably turn up for the big occasions and at this level it is much harder to police.

On the positive side, taking out the minority who caused the above, it was fantastic to see that many fans down there and shows that we can still attract a large fan base on the big occasion.

The official attendance has been given as 902?!  Looked a few more to me.

The Game

At the end of the day all in attendance went to see a game and unfortunately for us, we lost for the first time in the league since September, with our display on the whole being pretty shocking from the word go.

We could have gone ahead when Nathan Cartman was clear on goal, however Salford managed to score from their only major chance of the half.

Once Alan White got sent off it was going to near impossible to get back into the game and Salford probably should have won by more than two in the end. However, with eleven men on the pitch it may have been a very different game.

I was a bit surprised to see Leon Scott in our starting line-up ahead of Mitchell. In my opinion, despite playing a lot, Scott has struggled this season and not reached the heights performance wise of the last two seasons.

At right back captain Gary Brown didn’t have his best of days. His natural position is a centre back and despite playing at right-back all campaign, in a very successful and solid defence, against better quality opposition it shows that he is out of position.

Once again Phil Dean got the better of him and it was Brown’s failure to clear the ball which led to the crucial opening goal.

Too many of the others had off days or allowed the game to simply pass them by, with the usually reliable Graeme Armstrong and Tom Portas not being at their best.

We struggled to ever get the ball down and play a passing game at any point with a lot of ‘hoof ball’ returning to our play. When we play like that it makes it harder for the smaller more skillful players such as Steven Thompson and Cartman to have an impact on proceedings.

Our Discipline

Once again on the big stage we lost control with four being sent off in total, all for dissent.

White has been one of our stand-out players this season, however his lack of discipline is pretty amazing.  More games than not he is cautioned for saying too much to the ref and he was warned several times yesterday before he got his second yellow. At 1-0 the game was tight, the sending off virtually killed it off.

As for Martin Gray and Brian Atkinson on the bench, they like White, should know better. Gray struggles in the big games to control himself and he surely will now be given another lengthy touchline ban.

He really needs to lead by example better, hopefully in the post-match interview he took some of the blame or at least didn’t fully blame the referee for the defeat.

Salford

Fair play to Salford they did a job on us for the second time this season. Thought the first half was pretty even and it could easily have been us ahead at half-time, but that’s where games are won and lost.

They will get better I’m sure as the new players they have brought in gel, however despite the result yesterday I still think they will drop a few points.

Interesting comments from their manager last night, saying other teams should have more of a go at us. Maybe the ‘Class of 92’ are passing on some psychological wisdom from Sir Alex, for now at least though he has shown has got a stranglehold on Gray in the head-to-head department.

As for the off the field activities, Salford were not to blame for any of the incidents, however some of it may have been handled better.  I know it is extra costs for the home team when we travel, however I expected a bit more of a police presence yesterday giving everything surrounding the game.

Referee

There has been a tendency for not only the management, but also a large portion of our fans to blame the ref after defeats in the past few seasons. I don’t think the officials on a whole had a great game yesterday, but it was far from the reason we lost the game.

The big decision that we will look towards from our point of view would be Cartman being taken down by their keeper outside the box. Unfortunately I was behind the other goal so didn’t really get a clear view, hopefully once the highlights are online we may get a better viewing.

Overall season

All Darlington can do is forgot about yesterday and move on and hopefully relations between the two clubs for the future can be mended.

For now the day has left a sour taste, both for the result on the pitch and the incidents.

As for this season, we still remain favourites, but we need to return to winning ways as soon as possible. Now six points behind Salford, but with five games in hand, Martin Gray and his team will still expect to finish top of the pile come the end of April.

We still have a lot of tough fixtures, including two league games with second placed Northwich Victoria, which should make it an interesting run.

Despite the defeat we still have only lost three league games this season, have the best defence in the league and have just recently signed the leagues top scorer.

Bring on Ossett Town at Heritage Park next Saturday.