Buxton 2 -0 Darlington
The 2015/16 league campaign is underway and after promotion last year we have been brought firmly back down to earth.
An early goal followed by another just after half-time were good enough for a Buxton side that finished mid-table last year to gain all the points.
The only surprise in the starting line-up was Adam Nowakowski starting up-front with Nathan Cartman.
Unfortunately, Nowakowski was injured early on with David Dowson replacing him. We will have to wait and see about the extent of Nowakowski injury, but he was down for about five minutes before he was able to leave the pitch.
My honest assessment was that we were very poor for the first 50 minutes of the game. We didn’t create anything apart from a Terry Galbraith free-kick, which was deflected wide, and a handball penalty appeal. At the other end we looked vulnerable every time the ball was put into our box. One area where we have been very strong in recent years is from set-pieces at both ends of the pitch. However, both goals came from dead balls and they looked like scoring from every corner and dangerous free-kick.
Thankfully, despite this it was far from all negative. Once we finally got into the game in the final half an hour or so, we started to create chances.
Cartman had one off the line when he should have scored, the Buxton keeper pulled off two very good saves and we had two other good chances with close range headers.
The game reminded me a lot of the Kendal and Farsley away trips last year, where too many players didn’t get going until it was too late.
The two central midfielders Tom Portas and Phil Turnbull were unable to get a hold of the game until we were 2-0 down. Portas, to his credit, did start to take control in the final 30 minutes and we looked a much better side for it.
New signing Lewis Gibbons did ok at right-back. He looked very comfortable on the ball and going forward he should be capable of having a good season.
We can’t blame the referee in the slightest for the defeat, but former Quaker Ricky Ravenhill was a lucky boy to still be on the pitch by full-time. Having already been booked, he committed two fouls which were border-line in quick succession.
I am always wary of making judgements until a few games have been played, but when the second goal went in I was worried. Despite the defeat though I think there were positive signs in the second half.
Obviously we will have to wait and see, but I suspect we will face a lot harder games then Buxton. They seemed well organised and could have scored more on the break in the second half when we piled people forward at the end.
On another note, a few of the other teams tipped for promotion failed to pick up victories on the opening day, such as Salford City who were held to a 0-0 draw with Marine.
Thankfully two home games this week provides the ideal opportunity to bounce back. Tuesday against Frickley Athletic and Saturday against Barwell.
Darlo team – Jameson, Galbraith, Gibbons, Hunter, Burgess, Turnbull, Mitchell, Portas, Thompson, Nowakowski, Cartman
Attendance : 707