DARLINGTON went into Wednesday night’s game with Penrith knowing that they needed to score twice to reach 100 goals for the season, but in the end they were thankful for a late penalty which gave them victory.
Terry Galbraith’s spot-kick proved enough five minutes from time to take a hard-fought three points from a match in which Darlington were not at their best.
They had to keep their composure as they sought a way through a packed defence as, not for the first time this season, the opponents ‘parked the bus’ in front of their goal.
By full-time, however, Martin Gray’s side were 21 points clear of second place and it was the Cumbrians who were most frustrated. Goalkeeper Jonny Jamieson ended up being sent off for foul and abusive language.
Darlington would have been counting the cost of dropped points were it not for Galbraith’s fourth penalty for the club.
Gray lauded the performance, saying it was better in some respects than last Friday’s win at Spennymoor Town.
“Penrith had a 4-5-1 formation, they got everybody behind the ball and slowed the game down as much as they could and made life very difficult for us,” said Gray.
“I think some people expect us to win every game by four or five goals, but that performance tonight was far better than last Friday because we kept composed and didn’t get anxious.
“Their keeper made a couple of great saves, he kept them in the game. It was a great performance, another three points and another clean sheet.”
The game hinged on the penalty decision, when substitute Charlie Bowman was adjudged to have pushed Stephen Thompson and Jamieson exacerbated the punishment by offering the referee an unwelcome assessment of his decision.
Gray said: “That was brave and a touch of class from Thompson. Most teams would’ve lumped that free-kick into the box, but we gave the ball to Thompson who spun the full-back and won a penalty.
“Their manager didn’t appeal, their lad pushed Thompson.”
Midfielder Steven Rigg picked up Jamieson’s shirt and went in goal, but he stood no chance of saving Galbraith’s penalty, smashed high into the net.
The relief was as abundant, as it was against Spennymoor, when the former Dunston man, who has become so crucial to Quakers, levelled in a top-ofthe-table clash in which Darlington demonstrated their capabilities.
On Wednesday, they had to show qualities of a different sort as they ground out their seventh successive win.