After a night back at the Arena there were many positives to takes despite defeat to Newcastle’s youngsters.
Like last year it was a weird experience being back at the white elephant, but still, all considered I think we had a good turnout.
As a whole, we looked effective going forward and were unlucky to only score once, but on the other hand, our defending was poor to say the least.
Starting at the back Pete Jameson needs a big pre-season if he is to start the campaign as number one ahead of Adam Bartlett. For Pete, it was a mixed bag, where he showed his best and his worst. The majority of the first half he struggled, which was highlighted by the penalty incident, when his poor kick was then compiled by another mistake. However, he did also show his strong points, shot stopping. Firstly the penalty save followed by some fantastic stops in the second half including a 1v1. For me, Bartlett will start on 5th of August, but I don’t think PJ’s Darlo career is finished yet.
The rest of the defence also looked poor in the first half, with Galbraith, playing out of position, Hunter and new signing Dom Collins all struggling.
As our main signing so far this summer Collins comes with expectations on his shoulder. Monday was the first time I have seen him play, but he didn’t look impressive. It is only 45 minutes and I’m sure he will improve and at the moment we need him to.
Ferguson got forward well particularly in the second half, showing the quality he has to play much higher up the leagues.
New signing James Caton was played wide rather than in the central position he occupied against Aycliffe. However, he still showed some great touches and was unlucky not to score early on. He looks like a fantastic option to have up front and is something different to what we already have.
Speaking of options up front, step forward Harvey Saunders. He was a star at the end of last season and the second half showed once again his potential. Some fantastic touches, always looking dangerous, hopefully, he will get opportunities this season.
The game clarified what I and most other Darlofans know. In midfield and attack, I have little concerns. Wearmouth and when he is fit Portas will be like two new signings, as will Saunders if he keeps improving. However, what may hold us back could be the same as last season, letting goals in.
Hopefully, come the first game we have a defence that inspires confidence, which we will need against Salford City.
Next up we travel to former landlord’s Bishop Auckland, where it will be a good chance for those who need to impress to do so.