Tag Archives: EvoStik

Darlo survive the wind to beat Mossley

Darlington 3 v 1 Mossley

Darlington overcame playoff chasing Mossley at Heritage Park to remain in control of their own destiny in the race for promotion.

An Adam Mitchell double in the first quarter of an hour put the Quakers in control on a blustery afternoon where the wind caused as many problems as the visitors.

Striker Graeme Armstrong made it three before half time after following up his own shot.

Mossley pulled one back in the second half from the penalty spot, but Darlington were good value for the three points.

Martin Gray made one change to his starting line-up as Terry Galbraith returned to the side, with Ian Watson dropping to the bench.

Heritage Park is known for being open to the elements and once again the wind put paid to either side attempting to play much football.

Darlo had the wind behind them in the first half and were able to make the most of the conditions, as they stormed into a three goal lead in the opening 35 minutes.

The game was just three minutes old when Mitchell opened the scoring. Mossley failed to clear a Gary Brown cross, allowing Mitchell to fire past the goalkeeper from close range.

It was 2-0 following a great counter attack by the hosts. Mitchell won the ball in the middle of the park, gave it wide to Tom Portas, who played it back to Mitchell to finish first time.

It could have been 3-0 when the league’s top scorer Nathan Cartman failed to connect to a ball at the back post after the keeper had missed a cross.

At the other end Mossley failed to threaten the Darlo goal, but had two big penalty shouts, which thankfully the referee waved away.

Armstrong had an effective afternoon in tough conditions and was alive to react when his initial shot was saved by the goalkeeper. He smashed home the rebound with the visitors appealing for a handball against the striker.

With confidence flowing, Armstrong nearly scored a cracker from outside the box which the goalkeeper did well to tip over.

The second half was always going to be tough for Darlington with the elements and it proved to be.

Mossley put a lot of balls into the box and caused Pete Jameson  problems throughout the half.

They pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after Stephen Thompson fouled a Mossley player after a corner.

However, despite the territory which Mossley enjoyed, the Quakers had chances of their own to kill the game off, with Cartman twice coming close.

Jameson saved brilliantly from a close range header in the final stages of the game to keep the two goal cushion for Darlo.

With the wind today was never going to be an easy afternoon, but it was all about the getting the points and we did.

Salford City beat Clitheroe 2-1, so it stays the same at the top, but with one game fewer to play.

Salford remain three points clear and have two games left. Darlington have three to play and a better goal difference, so three wins will guarantee the title and promotion.

The final week sees us play Warrington Town and New Mills. However, first is next Saturday, when we travel to Lancaster City.

Three to go

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Early Evo Stik Division 1 Preview

So it been announced which teams Darlo will face next season in the Evo Stick North Division 1 and it brings up a few old faces. Below is just a quick early run down of some of the sides we will face next season.

Scarborough Athletic

The team which sticks out for a lot of long time Darlington fans is Scarborough Athletic, after they were switched to the northern division for next season. Scarborough Athletic were formed after the original club, Scarborough FC, were dissolved in 2007.  Darlington have a long history of games with Scarborough up until the late 90’s when the club were relegated to the Conference. My first ever Darlo game was a 1-1 draw with Scarborough at Feethams and coincidentally my first away game, was a midweek trip at Scarborough two seasons later. Like us they know the struggles of  having to work their way back up and hopefully the two games should be a good reminder  of previous good times, as well as attracting two big crowds. Last season they finished in 7th place in the southern league, just short of a playoff place.

Spennymoor Town

Spennymoor have finally taken promotion out of the northern league and will surely be up their in the promotion mix. We brought the best out of each other during our season in the northern league and hopefully we will be able to again this season. This last year they won the league title for the fourth time in five years as they finished on a 100 points, five ahead of second place Celtic Nation. Spenny will surely be our main rival in attracting new players from the northern league over the coming months. Like Scarborough the games will appeal to fans and hopefully will produce near sell out crowds for both fixtures.

Droylsden

For Darlo fans Droylsden are remembered as the minnows who knocked us out of the FA Cup in the 2008/09 season, but now we will face them for the first time in a league fixture. At the time in 2008 we were top of league two while Droylsden were in the conference north, they won the tie 1-0 in a reply which was overshadowed by a Liam Hatch injury, which stopped the game for more than half an hour. They went onto beat Chesterfield in the next round, before being kicked out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player. They were relegated last season from the northern premier division having been relegated from the conference north the year before. They finished bottom of the table with just nine points amid money troubles in a season which saw them use a mostly youthful side.

Brighouse Town

The final new team in the division will be unknown to the majority of Quakers fans, Brighouse Town were promoted into our division after winning the northern counties east football league last season. They claimed the league title as they surpassed a 100 points. This season will be the highest in the football pyramid they have competed in their history.

Of the sides who remained in our division last season I expect Warrington Town to again be the biggest threat. Having missed out on promotion last time out in the playoffs they are likely to spend money to give themselves a chance. It has been well documented that they are wanting to climb the leagues quickly and it will be interesting to see who they capture in the close season.

Bamber Bridge, Lancaster City and Farsley FC, all missed out on promotion last time but were not to far away, in particular Bamber who were unlucky to lose the playoff final. All will hope to be their or their abouts again despite none having huge budgets.

The class of 92 taking over Salford City will surely see change at a club that finished mid table last time around. It is still unclear though if the intention is to use the club to help younger players get their chance in the game or to plough money into the club to try and push them up through the leagues.

Ossett Town and Northwich Victoria both finished the season strongly having struggled early on in the last season and both will be hoping for better starts that could push them towards the playoff places.

As for us, Darlington, the hope has to be to improve the squad over the summer with the intention of hitting the ground running from the word go to give ourselves as good a chance as any of winning the league title and gaining promotion.

Full Division team list. Bamber Bridge, Brighouse Town, Burscough, Clitheroe, Darlington, Droylsden, Farsley, Harrogate RA, Kendal Town, Lancaster City, Mossley, New Mills, Northwich Victoria, Ossett Albion, Ossett Town, Padiham, Prescott Cables, Radcliffe Borough, Salford City, Scarborough Athletic, Spennymoor Town, Warrington Town

 

Darlington lose play off semi final. Match Analysis

Darlo 0- 2 Ramsbottom United

Decided not to stick a post on last night as like managers in post game interviews people say things they regret in the heat of the moment. Doing it a little differently to normal anyway today as the majority reading this will have heard a run down of the game by now.

Darlo team lineup

Bell, Brown, Galbraith, Hunter, Tait, Scott, Robinson, Thompson, Mitchell, Dowson, Purewal.

We lined up pretty much as expected and I was glad to see us start with Mitchell in a 4-4-2. However, was surprised to see Brown starting at RB instead of Walker.

 

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Darlo/Gray’s Tactics

Questions are starting to be asked about Martin Gray’s tactics and rightfully so, as we again struggled against Rammy for the third time this season. After Scott went off injured we ended up with two CB’s playing in CM, this can work well, but neither Brown or Robinson are ball players that can pick out a pass and straight away it limited the chances that we could create. Last night we did not have options in centre mid, but we have struggled to have anyone other then Scott all season and this should have been addressed long before now.

The long ball which has come into our game more and more in the last few months really doesn’t suit us as the game passed two of our best players Thompson and Mitchell. Since the signing of Ward the ball is more and more just getting pumped into the box. When we have got the ball down and played this season we have torn teams to pieces, including Warrington away, really unsure why we have strayed from this.

Most annoying though as a fan, was the fact we just didn’t change or adapt from previous defeats this season. We haven’t scored or took a point from five games with Curzon Ashton or Ramsbottom, both these sides figured out how to play against us and we couldn’t respond.

Darlo performance

Take away everything else and the defeat last night comes down to poor performances, there was no lack of effort or commitement as some have suggested, however too many players had an off day.

Galbraith has been one of our best players since he joined, however last night nerves got the better of him. In the first half Ramsbottom’s right winger took him to pieces, and Tez kept missing the ball, missing tackles etc.

Walker when he came on at RB was similar to Galbraith looked nervous and nothing like his solid self from recent weeks. He was at fault for both goals,  he lost his man from the corner for the first goal and the second came down his flank.

Thommo even prior to his sending off had a poor game and as so often before, when Thommo struggles we as a team do. He was on the left last night and not allowed the freedom by the opposition which normally allows him to run riot.

Dowson and Purwal, like Thommo, struggled to have much impact, both had one good chance which could have changed the game(especially Dowson’s before the break).

Adam Mitchell was the standout player for me from a Darlo viewpoint and I think we will have probably witnessed his last performance in a Darlo shirt. On a whole last night, he was the only player who looked like creating much, very bright future  for him.

Ramsbottom performance

If Ramsbottom win promotion it will be deserved, them and Curzon have been by some distance the two best sides we have played this season. As they did in the league game they came with a plan and outplayed us for the majority of the game even when we had eleven men. They took both goals well and the second was a good goal even if it was touch and go for offside.

Whatever is remembered from the game, Ramsbottom were by far the better team and outclassed us completely for the first 35/40 minutes, a very good football playing team, who if they gain promotion will do well in the league above.

 Referee

There has been many times this season when some of our fans have blamed the referee rather then inept performances from the Quakers and last night was another occasion.

The only incident which I have a major gripe with is the first minute tackle, I think if it was later in the game it would have been a red. The first minute challenge could well change the game and we needed Scott badly in midfield, but you have to get on the with decisions and play the game.

The Tommo/penalty incident, at the end of the day only Thommo knows if he dived or not from the stands it is virtually impossible to see. Hopefully Kev has got a decent shot of it on the highlights.

As for the second red, I think by this point our players/management/fans were seeing the red mist and it was only a matter of time till someone else went. Was amazed Browny stayed on the pitch the whole game.

Our fans/the after game incidents

Again I am not in the best position to comment as I did not see the incidents on the pitch, but as everyone with half a brain cell will agree, it looks awful on our club. Just a shame the minority would do it when the large portion of the 1900+ crowd know where to draw the line. Hopefully something can be done internally from the club, but I expect some sort of fine from the FA will be thrown at us.

The Bigger pitcture for Darlo

In my opinion this season has still been a success for the club, we know better than most the playoffs is a lottery, but a second place finish in the league is still a great achievement having jumped up from the Northern League last year. As has been stated on the forum by many, we had the best goal difference, second best defence and scored the second most goals, not bad for a constantly evolving squad who struggled in the first three months of the season.

Hopefully Gray and the players will learn from last night and we can come back stronger next year. At some point next season we have the prospect of moving back home to the town as well which in the long term is great news for the club.

Just a shame for the fourth time from four its playoff heartache for Darlington, as Ramsbottom United add themselves to the list alongside Plymouth Argyle, Peterborough United and Rochdale

Good luck to Ramsbottom and Bamber Bridge in the final on Saturday.

 


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Evo Stik Division One North Playoff Preview

With the league campaign now over, four teams enter the playoffs this week hoping to join league champions Curzon Ashton in the Evo Stik Premier next season. Below I’ve just got a quick rundown of the four sides before the two semi-finals on Tuesday and Wednesday. The odds given are from BetVictor

Semi Finals

Tuesday Night

Warrington Town v Bamber Bridge

Wednesday Night

Darlington v Ramsbottom United

 

Darlington – Second place, Promotion odds – 10/11

Before the season started myself and the majority of Darlington fans would have settled for a place in the playoffs, in a division which was virtually unknown to any of us. A couple of months ago we still had faint hopes of catching Curzon Ashton, but I am more than happy to see us finish second and guarantee home advance in the playoffs.

We have had good and bad spells throughout the season, but have finished strongly winning six games in a row before the weekends defeat at home to Burscough in which the majority of the first team were rested. For virtually the whole campaign we have been in a playoff spot without ever really threatening to win the league.

The majority of players in the squad have been involved in high pressure games for us before, which should stand them in good stead. Having had a small squad for a lot of the season we have been able to strengthen in recent months and will have options on the bench for the playoffs if we are struggling. As much as we do rely on Stephen Thompson at times, he has proved time and time again he can turn it on when we need him to and I think how we will do, could well boil down to if he has one of his on/off days.

Our record against the other top sides is ok, but not great. We were able to beat both Warrington Town and Bamber Bridge home and away. However the side we meet in the semi-final, Ramsbottom United, beat us home and away, 3-0 and 1-0. The game at Heritage Park saw them play us off the park for the majority of the game, although it was in the middle of our worst run of the season.

Hopefully for the Quakers anyway, manager Martin Gray will get his tactics right on Wednesday and we can progress to the final.

 

 

Warrington Town – Third Place, Promotion odds – 5/2

Warrington are known for having a physical presence and it has proved very effective for them. They have been in the top three for the whole campaign and until the final month or so looked like they could stop Curzon Ashton from winning the league.

They went on a long unbeaten run in the first half of the season which lasted for seventeen games and they have recently regained some form, winning four of their five games in April, the one defeat coming at Ramsbottom.

In Ciaran Kilheeney and Ben Wharton they have two threats, who have scored 36 league goals between them.

Their two games against their semi-final opponents Bamber Bridge , saw them pick up four points as they won 3-0 away from home before drawing 1-1, however both games were before Christmas.

I did not attend either of Darlo’s games with Warrington, however they saw two good wins for the Quakers, 2-0 at Heritage Park and a 4-1 win in the reverse fixture.

Bamber Bridge – Fourth Place, Promotion odds – 9/2

Bamber Bridge have been in and around the playoffs for the majority of the league campaign and a good final few months saw them seal a playoff spot with a game to spare. In their last eleven league games they only lost once, a defeat away to Northwich Victoria and earlier in the campaign they had an eleven game unbeaten run which spread from October to December.

They have scored the fewest goals and have the worst goal difference of the sides in the playoffs, but still managed to scored 81 goals. 22 of those came from club top scorer Alistair Waddecar who will have to be on form for Bamber to win promotion.

Darlo’s trip to Bamber early in the season saw us win 3-0, before a 1-0 victory at home just before Christmas.

Ramsbottom United – Fifth Place, Promotion odds – 9/1

Ramsbottom story is arguably the most intriguing of the four playoff sides. They started the campaign in awful form as they only picked up four points from their opening seven games which saw them in the relegation zone. Their eighth game was the 3-0 victory over Darlington and this sparked them into life as they went on a fantastic run to push them into promotion contention. From October to January, Rammy only lost one league game, a 2-1 defeat to Bamber Bridge and in the whole of the campaign since October they have only lost four times in the league.

They were able to make the playoffs despite a three point deduction in the second half of the season for fielding an ineligible player.

Rammy are the league’s top scorers with a quite incredible 112 goals from their 42 games, but at same time they have conceded 57 goals, more than any of the other top five sides. They have the league’s top scorer, Lee Gaskell, who has netted 29 times this season, as well as Phillip Dean who has scored 19 goals.

Prediction                             

As always with the playoffs it is a bit of a lottery and the odds given by the bookies aren’t that accurate in my opinion. However through my black and white tinted glasses, I think Darlington will gain promotion.

I expect Wednesday to be a very tough game against one of the most impressive sides we have seen at Heritage Park this season. However now in much better form I am confident we can get through.

The first semi should also be a tight affair, but I fancy Warrington to be too strong for Bamber Bridge.

 

Evo Stik First Division North Promotion Race

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With three months left in the Evo Stik Division 1 North season, seven sides remain in with a realistic chance of promotion and a place in the Evo Stik Premier for the 2014/15 campaign. The winner of the division receives automatic promotion while the sides finishing in places 2-5 will enter the playoffs.

Here is a quick run through of the seven sides that are still in contention.

How the league currently stands. (23/01/2014)

  1. Curzon Ashton,  Played – 24, points – 61
  2. Warrington Town,  Played – 26, points – 59
  3. Farsley FC, Played – 28, points – 58
  4. Darlington, Played – 26, points – 55
  5. Bamber Bridge, Played – 25, points – 48
  6. Lancaster City, Played – 25, points – 48
  7. Ramsbottom United, Played – 24, points – 46

Curzon Ashton – 1st place, Title odds 2/5

Curzon Ashton are without doubt the favorites to lift the title as we go into the final three months of the season. The two websites that take odds on the division both have Curzon as favorites at 2/5 to win the title and rightfully so. They have remained near the top for the entire campaign so far despite always having games in hand on their rivals. If they were to win their two games in hand, they would go eight points ahead of second place Warrington. Curzon started off by winning their first six league games and have never looked back. They have so far only lost one league game, a surprise 2-1 defeat away to Ossett Town in December and despite winning the majority of games recently by the odd goal, they still have come through with victories. Having reached the playoffs in four out of the last five seasons they are well prepared for a promotion race and having got themselves into this position anything less than automatic promotion will be seen as a disappointment. The only reason to doubt Curzon will win the title, is their run in sees them still having to play numerous games against the other top sides. With home and away games to play against Warrington and Farsley, as well as facing a trip to Darlington there is potential for them to drop points.

Warrington Town – 2nd Place,  Title odds 7/2

Like Curzon, Warrington Town have remained in the top two places for the majority of the season and are the team most likely to stop Curzon Ashton winning the title. Warrington lost their opening two games of the league campaign, before going on a seventeen game unbeaten run. However three league defeats in December against Darlington, Lancaster City and Clitheroe have cost them top spot and they will be hoping they can produce another unbeaten run from now until the end of the season. Warrington’s style of play has been come under attack by others in the division, but it has proven to be effective. They can also count themselves unlucky to have not beaten the league leaders, when the sides met earlier in the season Warrington were leading Curzon Ashton 2-0 inside the first twenty minutes, before floodlight failure led to the game being abandoned.  With both games still to play against Curzon, Warrington know they will need two positive results in these games to have a realistic chance of overhauling their opponents.

Farsley FC – 3rd place  – 14/1

Farsley FC are currently in third place in the table and have had a very consistent season so far, only losing four of their twenty eight league games. Despite finding themselves only three points off top spot they have played four games more than leaders Curzon Ashton, which may see them having to settle for a playoff place.One thing going against Farsley in the run in, is their fixture list, they still have to travel to all of the other top seven sides away from home as well as hosting Curzon Ashton. They have shown they have quality in the side, as Darlington found out early in the season when we travelled to Farsley and were convincingly beaten 4-2.

Darlington 4th place – Title Odds 8/1

As a Darlington fan at the start of the season started it was unclear what to expect following last year’s Northern League title, what we have found is a tough division which we may not be able to get out of at the first attempt, however given the position and recent form of the team there is hope. After a mixed start to the season, October/November saw the Quakers struggle as we managed to pick up only one win in five games, which come May could be where automatic promotion was lost, defeats against Curzon Ashton, Ramsbottom and Northwich Victoria in this period saw us slip off the pace of the top two and we have struggled to close the gap since. However eight wins and a draw from our most recent nine games including several large wins have given optimism around the club similar to that of last season when we went unbeaten from December to win the title.  A playoff spot should be the minimum required from the team, however many fans, including myself, still believe we have a shot of winning the league and gaining promotion automatically. Despite being six points behind Curzon Ashton, who still have had two games in hand, the momentum we have and the level of performances recently should give us enough confidence and could see us go on a similar run as the end of last season. If we do that we could still end up in the playoffs, as we will need the current league leaders to drop points, but you never know. Having beaten rivals Warrington Town home and away in the league, a win at home to Curzon Ashton in February will be a must having lost away to the league leaders 1-0 in October.

Bamber Bridge – 5th place Title odds 66/1

Bamber Bridge have in recent weeks fallen away from the top four in the table but still have a great chance of making the end of season playoffs even if the title is out of reach.  A bad run of games and results saw Bamber Bridge fail to win a game in September which put them behind the early pace setters. However they were able to come into the promotion picture with a fantastic run of results stretching from the middle of October to now which has seen them only lose two games, both over the Christmas period, to Darlington and Curzon Ashton. Despite this run they are still thirteen points off the top spot and have played a game more than the leaders.

Lancaster City – 6th place, Title Odds 66/1

Like Bamber Bridge Lancaster find themselves a drift of the top four and may have to fight it out with for the final playoff spot. Lancaster started the season well, but like Darlington struggled in October and November in which they lost five league games to dent their chances of automatic promotion.  On the last day of the season Lancaster host Curzon Ashton in what could be a still at that stage be a crucial game for both sides.

Ramsbottom United – 7th place, Title Odds 66/1

The fact that Ramsbottom are in the shake up for promotion at all is a testament to how far they have come from their start to the season. In Rammy’s first seven league games they lost five and were only able to pick up four points which left them in the relegation zone. What has followed has been some remarkable results, since the opening seven games they have only lost once in the league, at Bamber Bridge, have racked up six goal victories over Lancaster City and Burscough and just last weekend a 8-0 victory against Radcliffe Borough. Here at Darlington we have seen as much as any the quality in Ramsbottoms side, as they have beaten us home and away in impressive style. While still in eighth place in the table, they are only two points off the final playoff spot with a game in hand.

Predictions

Time to make predictions and head rules over heart as I think despite the run we are on now, Darlington have left ourselves to much to do and despite a tough run of fixtures to go Curzon Ashton have still only lost one game this season and for anyone else to take the title away from them they would have to lose three or four in the remaining months.

  1. Curzon Ashton
  2. Darlington
  3. Warrington Town
  4. Farsley FC
  5. Ramsbottom United
  6. Lancaster City
  7. Bamber Bridge