Category Archives: Darlo

Darlo – Newcastle U23’s a few thoughts

 

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.

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Darlington 1-1 AFC Fylde Analysis

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Coming back from Heritage Park yesterday more than anything else I was proud. Not just of yesterday’s performance, but of what the club has achieved as a whole.

In what could prove to be our final league game at Heritage Park it will have been a time to reflect for many people of where we have come in the last four and a bit seasons.

Every comment seen on our forum, twitter and facebook, from our fans has been positive about yesterday. When we played that first game at Bishop Auckland, most of us will not have known what to expect, but how many would have seen us second in the National North in November 2016.

As for the game itself, what else can be said, a great performance all-round from those in Black and White. We appeared to have the fairytale ending at Heritage Park, only for the linesman’s flag to take a little shine off the day. If that had counted and we had won, it would have been no more than we would have deserved.

Considering the budget and the players that AFC Fylde have at their disposal, you would not have been able to tell which side was the full-time outfit.

For the first twenty minutes we were the better side, without creating much, before the visitors showed why they are top of the table. A couple of players stood out for Fylde, the youngest in midfield and then the obvious Danny Rowe. For a 10/15 spell in the first half he looked dangerous twisting and turning our defenders inside out and his finish was of the quality which wouldn’t go out of place much higher up the football pyramid.

However, what I was most surprised about yesterday, was apart from this spell we kept him and his teammates very quiet, with Rowe rarely getting a sight of goal in the second half. This was from a defence that included Terry Galbraith having to play CB and Jordan Watson, who is yet to have a full run in the team starting at LB.

Liam Marrs had his best game in a Quakers shirt at RB and Josh Gillies once again showed his quality. How it took till nearly full-time for Fylde’s RB to get booked I’m not sure, as especially during the second half, fouling Gillies seemed to be his only way of stopping the winger.

David Syers, who came in for his first start, could have had 3/4 in another match, but finishing wise it was just not his day.

The amount of great set pieces and crosses into the box it appeared just a matter of time until we went ahead, alas it was not to be.

It has to give us hope though that others will be able to take points off AFC Fylde, as well as ourselves in the return game.

My final point on yesterday was the crowd, 2001, a virtual capacity crowd. Our attendances this season have been a great improvement from last year and yesterday was a fitting way to leave Bishop Auckland, if it proves to be the final game.

The next month or so will be an exciting time for all involved in the club and it is guaranteed that the first game whichever one it is at Blackwell Meadows is bound to be a fantastic occasion. It seems like after the last two years though it is destined to be Salford City.

You never know anyway, the FA Trophy draw is tomorrow and if we get drawn at home we will have at least one more game in our temporary home.

Billingham Synthonia 0 -5 Darlington

billingham v darlo

The Quakers made it three wins out of three in pre-season, as they won comfortably away at Northern League side Billingham Synthonia.

An early goal from Gary Brown was followed up by second half goals from Lewis Nightingale, Lee Gaskell, Adam Mitchell and Liam Hardy.

Darlington started with a strong line-up which included new signing Liam Marrs at right-back. Former captain Brown headed the opener in the early minutes of what proved to be a tight first half.

At the back the Quakers looked solid with three of the regular back four from last season starting. However,Terry Galbraith was brought off during the first period, as a precaution, with Jordan Watson replacing him at left-back.

Following his return from injury at the end of last season Amar Purewal also was given a run out, but he wasted the best chance to double the advantage. Captain Kevin Burgess had a good game throughout and his header crashed against the bar at the end of the first 45.

Half-time saw a string of changes with Nightingale and Harrison Scott among those to enter the fray.

Billingham nearly levelled when Brown had to clear off the line twice in a few seconds, as the Darlington defence was left exposed.

However, the lead was extended when Nightingale struck from outside the area and the Synthonia goalkeeper failed to get down to the shot.

The Quakers then scored three goals in the final stages to add some gloss to the score-line. First Lee Gaskell turned his defender inside out, before curling the ball into the corner.

Mitchell then intercepted a loose pass  to race clear and score.

Yet, the goal of the night came in the final seconds as a brilliant whipped cross from Nightingale was headed home by Hardy.

Overall a very good night’s work for Darlo, Nightingale and Marrs both looked impressive. Next up is the test of the big north east two as we face Newcastle and Sunderland 11’s at the Arena in the next seven days.

Darlo team – Jameson(Mclaren), Marrs(H.Scott), Burgess, Brown(Lovegreen), Galbraith(Watson), Thompson(Nightingale), Mitchell, Turnbull(Portas), L.Scott(Nowakowski), Cartman(Gaskell), Purewal(Hardy)

Salford City v Darlington Preview

On Saturday, weather permitting, the highly anticipated Evo-Stik Premier Division clash between Salford City and Darlington will take place.

After a well-documented rivalry between the two sides in the 2014/15 season, this will be the sides first meeting of this campaign. The two sides went head-to-head for the Evo-Stik First Division One North title last season, with Salford ultimately coming out on top. We appeared to be heading for the title only for draws at Lancaster and Warrington in the final weeks of the season to see the Ammies lift the trophy. However, fortunately for us, play-off victories over Spennymoor Town and Bamber Bridge at Heritage Park saw the side join Salford in the Premier Division.

This season the two have once again both been involved in the promotion shake-up, with both currently sitting in the play-off places. Darlington are just two points behind Salford with three games in hand. Both sides have hopes of back-to-back promotions, but with Blyth Spartans, the current title favourites, both may have to settle for the play-offs.

Last year Salford got the better of Darlington in both meetings, including the controversial meeting at Moor Lane in January 2015. The game was hotly disputed both on and off the pitch. However, the game this season carries less significance. Martin Gray and his players have been playing down the importance of the game, stating it is just another fixture and the circumstances are completely different to 13 months ago. At that point it was clearly a two horse race, this year the game will neither make or break either teams campaigns.

It surely must be in Martin Gray’s mind that he owes the Salford managerial duo one. In their five meetings, firstly when they were at Ramsbottom United and then at Salford, Gray has yet to see his side score a goal, never mind win. One of the key factors in the match will surely be the discipline of not only Gray’s players, but also of himself, which sometimes during the previous meetings has been a problem. This season minus a couple of blips from Alan White, we have been quite well disciplined on the whole.

We go into the game in great form having won our last four league games and we can take heart from Salford having struggled at home at times this season.  However, Salford have such a talented squad and have shown many times this season what they are capable of.

We have had an interesting week with the departure of fan favourite David Dowson, and the league’s top scorer Liam Hardy arriving at the club. It will only be a matter of time whether this move proves to be a good one. However, one thing is for sure you won’t hear many bad words said about Dows from any of the Darlington fans.

Personally I can’t see Hardy coming straight into the team, with Nathan Cartman and Lee Gaskell both playing so well. It does bring into question Graeme Armstrong’s future at the club, which is something I never thought I would say at the start of the season.

The background to the game has also had its controversies over the ticket allocation, which has seen ourselves receive 250 tickets. To be honest, I’m not surprised this has been done, the only thing I would wonder about is why there was no segregation put in place. However, what’s done is done and hopefully it doesn’t overshadow what should be a great game.

My heart says we are playing that well at the moment that we could easily go there and win. However, we were in the same situation last season when we met. Either way, as I said earlier it won’t make or break our season, but in the words of Kevin Keegan, “I would love it if we beat them.”

Early prospects for next season

With the Darlo squad now taking shape fans attentions turn to next season and how we will get on in the Evo-Stik Premier.

While any promoted team will face a step-up in the level of competition, we shouldn’t be daunted by the task ahead and in my opinion we will be in the promotion shake up once again.

The step-up will be greater than the one we faced after promotion from the Northern League in 2012/13. However, Curzon Ashton showed last season that it can be done. They did not make whole sale changes to their squad and were able to get the job done via the play-offs.

We are also aided by FC United winning the title this year. They have been the favourites every year in recent seasons for the title and this isn’t a bad thing for us that we won’t have to compete with them. I think Salford City will be up there challenging, they have already have a great squad and after Christmas this year they were unstoppable. They have it in their power to bring in a host of players if they are struggling, as they did last January, which is surely a big advantage.

We do have though plenty of players with experience in the Evo-stik Premier including new signings Kevin Burgess and Adam Nowakowski. Tom Portas and Graeme Armstrong also played in the division in the 2013/14 season for Whitby.

We haven’t had any success against teams from the division in the cup competitions over the last two seasons. However the ties with Buxton and Blyth Spartans were both ties which we could have won. Those who came close last season such as Workington, Ashton United, as well as Blyth themselves will surely have something to say at the top of the league.

I’m sure there will plenty of fans from the other teams in the division who think it is a bit of an insult that we are expecting to come into the division and challenge at the top right away. In reality we will only find out in the first months of the season how we are going to get on.

My opinion anyway is that we have a squad that will be in the top 10 and could easily be in the play-off shake up. The core of the squad is the same with a few very good additions which improve not only the starting eleven, but the depth of the squad as a whole. As a club we have a lot going for us currently and hopefully we can carry this momentum on over the next year.

Darlo summer signings and preseason

Signings

Kevin Burgess joined the Quakers from Whitby Town this week to become the third signing of the summer.

On paper he looks a great addition to the squad. As good as Alan White was last season, he won’t be able to go on forever and Burgess should provide some competition for the centre back position, which at times we struggled with last season through injury.

It will be interesting to see who we start with, if it will be Hunter and White or Hunter and Burgess. Either way the new signing should be able to provide experience at this level having played for Whitby in the division.

Adam Nowakowski joined a couple of weeks ago and is very much in the mold of a Martin Gray player, a man who can play in multiple positions. Like Tez Galbraith, Gary Brown and Leon Scott who have all played in different positions for the club, Nowakowski can play all over the park with his best position being at centre-midfield.

Like with Burgess, it will be interesting to see come the opening day if he slots straight into the team. If he does, it could be at the expense of Leon Scott. He is reported to be a tough tackling midfielder, who would fit in well alongside last year’s player of the season Tom Portas.

The first signing we made this summer, Rob Youhill, joins from Harrogate RA and has been very impressive in games against the Quakers. The winger is highly rated and will link up with friend and former team mate Nathan Cartman. Alongside Stephen Thompson and Adam Mitchell, Youhill will become the third out and out winger at the club which should provided us valuable options.

As far as further signings go, Gray has said he will be bringing in a goalkeeper following the departure of veteran Mark Bell. However, past this I don’t expect him to add many other new players. In my opinion the squad we finished the season with was good enough to challenge for promotion again and the three additions provide good competition.

Preseason

Even though it is only early June I am already missing my Saturday Darlo fix and I can’t wait till the pre-season games kick off. We have a hectic schedule of fixtures which should give Gray and his back room staff plenty of time to see all from the first team, as well as those from the youth team who have impressed over the last couple of years.

For me personally I was delighted to see a game lined up away to Seaham Red Star. I have done some reporting on the club this last season as part of my course and can’t speak highly enough of them. They were unstoppable last season as they cruised to the Northern League Second Division title and I will be keeping an eye on them this time around, as I am sure they will do well in the First Division.

Darlo youngsters show that the future is bright

Darlington 3 v 1 New Mills

Martin Gray chose to rest the majority of his first team squad for the Quakers final league fixture of the season ahead of the crunch play-off tie with Spennymoor Town on Wednesday.

Winger Nelson Mota gave Darlo an early lead, before the visitors equalised minutes later.

Second half goals from striker Matty Pennal and substitute Lewis Walton made sure the Quakers would reach 90 point’s for the third season in a row.

Gray only used four of his senior players, Mark Bell, Mota and Ian Watson started, with Pete Jameson on the bench. Also in the team were Pennal and Matthew Lovegreen, who both have had first team experience this season.

Second bottom New Mills only named one substitute and had a midfielder in goal with none of their regular goalkeepers available.

The youngsters showed hunger from the word go, on a afternoon which could have so easily been a drab affair.

Mota has been a substitute in the majority of games over recent months, however, he opened the scoring with a solo effort. Playing on the right wing , he ran at the full-back, cut inside and hit a great strike in off the near post.

Unfortunately for Darlington the lead lasted less than ten minutes when Brandon Windsor was able to hold off Lovegreen and bury his finish past Bell in to the roof of the net.

Ryu Williamson nearly regained the lead for Darlo when he got in behind the defence, following good work from Watson, but the post denied the youngster what would have been a deserved goal.

The Quakers regained the lead early in the second half, again after great work from Watson. He raced down the touchline before crossing for Pennal to head into the net.

Pennal then nearly grabbed his second, as he hit the post with a well hit shot from outside the box.

Watson and Mota were subbed as the side looked towards Wednesday and it was sub Walton who scored the goal of the game, as the young side sealed a memorable win. The ball broke nicely for him on the edge of area and he smashed it in to the net, giving the stand in keeper no chance.

Gray watched from the stands and he must have been impressed with those on the pitch. The future of the club is in safe hands if these are the players who hopefully can break in to the first team in the next few years.

With talk of a reserve team for next season, it appears the players will have a great platform to develop and get competitive game time for the club.

Attention turns back to the serious matter of Spennymoor on Wednesday. Everyone in the club knows the heartache that play-offs can cause. However, at some point we will break our run of failure in play-offs, hopefully it is this week.