Monthly Archives: August 2017

Darlo 1v1 Spenny a good point or two dropped?

I’m always reluctant to settle for a point at home, but at half-time on Monday, I would have taken someones hand off for it.

After Telford and North Ferriby, I like many was a bit deflated. We suddenly faced our neighbours after two bad results while they travelled to Blackwell Meadows with their tails up.

James Caton has become a bit of a scape goat over the last two games and it was probably a good thing for him to be taken out of the firing line as we changed formation.

However, it definitely didn’t work in the first half, whatever the plan was. We had a couple of half chances one which was created by a goalkeeping error, but we were once again second best. The Brewers, like us, didn’t create a host of chances in the first period, but had the majority of the possession and they always looked in control of the game.

The goal showed our vunerability and while it was a great finish, the build up saw our defence and midfield all over the place.

Thankfully,  whatever Martin Gray said to them at half time it worked, the same 11 looked a different side and for the next 25/30 minutes we were on top. Yes, it took a goalkeeping howler for our goal, but we played so much better.

Despite improving Spennymoor still had a great couple of chances to win the game and but for Adam Bartlett along with wasteful finishing we could have easily lost.

Even taking into account the second half it was another disappointing performance against a side who I expect to finish around where we do come April.

The change in formation did little to change the recent mood and to be honest made us play more direct if anything.

In an ideal world, I think  Beck needs a rest, but don’t know if we have a game plan without him.

On the plus side despite a couple of wobbles, I thought Collins had a very solid second half, he seemed to win virtually every header after the break.  It was also good to see Tom Portas get some more game time, which is exactly what he needs.

Again, I was disappointed with the attendance. I’m sure some don’t agree, as it was our first 2,000+ crowd of the season, but if you take out the away fans, it was less than 1,700 home fans. It was a local game, on a Bank Holiday Monday and the weather was fantastic, maybe just me, maybe I aiming too high.

Come the end of the season I would settle for a playoff place, but as always in football, it is hard to look past the last few results. For us, four without a win.

At least we have two easy games next up, away trips to Southport and Chorley.



Darlo v Spenny preview

It was always going to be a tough test, but recent results have made it tougher. The first big game of the season at Blackwell Meadows and it comes on Bank Holiday Monday.

Regardless of what either set of fans say it is a big game, two neighbours on the up, it should be a cracker.

We have had the better of our games over the last few years, winning four and drawing one of the five between us in the league and playoffs. In particular, the 3-1 win at the Brewery Field in the Northern League and the 3-2 victory in the playoffs will live long in the memory.

However, going into the game there are reasons to be concerned. While we have had two bad results, Spenny have been continuing their good start to the season. They have picked up an impressive 13 points so far sitting two points ahead of us in fourth place in the table.

In fact, they will have been disappointed not to be two points better off having been held on Saturday. Against title favourites Salford they led 1-0 against ten men, but could not hold on.

Spennmoor will travel to Blackwell Meadows full of confidence following their start to the season.  While they have many ex Quakers in their ranks Joe Tait and Rob Ramshaw are the two who are regularly playing this year. Tait is a good defender and leader which he showed with us, while Ramshaw always had the talent as a youngster and it is good to see him progressing.

I wasn’t at the North Ferriby game on Saturday, but from those who went, it sounded like the game should have been over by half time. Against a team who had started poorly, if we scored another there probably would have been no way back, but we didn’t and we paid for it.

11 points from our opening six games isn’t too bad a return considering the fixtures we have had, but it’s hard to look past one point from the last two.

After the York result, I foolishly had in my head we would pick up six points and we would all be set for derby day on Bank Holiday Monday. However, Football has a habit of not being that straight forward. Suddenly failing to win tomorrow and it is four without a win. Another result from Saturday which caught my eye was Telford losing at home to Bradford PA, yet we made them look good just a week before.


Apart from the result the other major concern from Saturday is Chris Hunter, by all reports it was an awful injury. I’m surprised he has played as much as he has this season, but regardless it is never nice to see any major injury to a player and hopefully, it is a speedy recovery.

It was fantastic though to see Tom Portas start a game after his lengthy injury. He is a player that has quality in abundance and if he is given the game time could have a big say on our season.

It is obviously too early to be a make or break match, but after the last two games we really need a pick me up and tomorrow could be it.

Hopefully, we have a big crowd and a strong atmosphere, which at home over the last few years have more than not ended with a good result.

Darlington v Telford over reaction?

Saturday was a bad day on and off the pitch for ourselves, but is the reaction we have seen from fans over the last few days justified?

I am as bad as anyone for my emotions straight after matches, so have left it till the middle of the week to voice my views.

On the pitch

Before we talk crowds and the future of our club, lets get to the reason why the majority of fans attend, what happens on the pitch for 90 minutes.

The most disappointing part for me, was for the first time this season I went to Blackwell Meadows with expectations. After a brilliant opening four games, I went expecting a good performance and a comfortable win. It goes to show you can’t ever guarantee anything in this game.

The game reminded me of Nuneaton/Curzon at home last season, against teams on paper many fans would expect to beat, but we simply did not put in a performance worthy of the three points.

Most worrying was virtually every player had an off day. In defense, we looked vulnerable while the distribution from the back was dreadful.

The usually sold pair of Turnbull and Syers struggled to get a hold of the game. Yes, the conditions were far from easy to play in, but Telford coped much better throughout.

Our creative players Gillies and Thommo struggled to have an impact, with even the impressive David Ferguson not having as much of an impact from left back.

Up top, we failed to utilise Mark Beck in conditions when we needed him most. Nothing was sticking and when he was able to win the ball it wasn’t falling our way.

We have had tendencies over the last few years to throw these really bad performances in with the good under Martin Gray, but thankfully they have been few and far between.

The key is to how we bounce back, in the first four games this team has shown what they are capable of, so I have no doubt we will. We just have to make sure performances like this don’t become more regular.

Off the field

If the performance and result on Saturday were disappointing the attendance was deflating. For our club attendances are the biggest influence on our finances unless significant investment comes in.

Everything on Saturday was set up for a big attendance. A nice day, an almost perfect start to the season and on the back of high spirits from York.

For the crowd to be lower than our first two home games asks many questions.

As people have noted the attendance from our first three games are higher than we have had in recent seasons for the opening games and the sides we have played have only bought a handful of fans.

However, it is disheartening that the numbers we have budgeted for are not coming through the turnstiles on a weekly basis.

For me, it is the overall matchday experience that we can offer at Blackwell Meadows. While some problems have been ironed out since the opening game, many remain.

While out of the town at Heritage Park, I like many, enjoyed the matches. Regardless of if the bank was allowed for standing or not, it offered a good view to watch the game.

Views at Blackwell Meadows have been a big problem from day one. If you aren’t in the seats or want to go in the tin shed you need to be there early. Despite the problem having been lessened, peoples experience from that first game against Halifax will have put off many from coming back.

It is hard to know what can be done as fans and by those on the board to lessen the problem without substantial investment. I am still amazed the capacity is 3,000 as it is not possible for that many to be in the ground with all having a good view of the action.

I have major concerns, as do many, about how far we can progress without investment and at Blackwell Meadows in general. For this season attendance wise my fear would be that no matter how we do on the pitch they will struggle to rise.

Going back to the game, it was a bad performance, but I am confident we can turn it round. However, in terms of the attendances increasing, I am less optimistic.