6:01pm Saturday 11th January 2014
By Craig Stoddart
Harrogate RA 0 Darlington 2
Goals from Joe Tait and Stephen Thompson gave Darlington an eighth win in nine games in front of a bumper crowd at Harrogate RA.
The attendance of 1,026 – almost double the combined crowd total that have watched Harrogate this season – was dominated by Darlington fans and they saw the promotion-chasers record victory.
On what as a heavy playing surface, Quakers took the lead on eight minutes with Tait marking his return with a goal.
With Leon Scott suspended, Tait was asked to play in midfield and he got forward to stab home from inside the penalty area.
The goal gave Quakers the ideal start and they went on to boss the remainder of the half, forcing a number of opportunities but they did not take any of them while home keeper Peter Crook made some fine saves.
One in particular, saw him tip wide a Thompson blast, but he could nothing about the Darlington player’s ten-yard volley just before the break.
Although he got the final touch, it was a team goal that involved several passes before Terry Galbraith crossed to Amar Purewal who chested the ball to Thompson.
The second half was less entertaining and more workmanlike, though Crook again produced some eye-catching saves to stop Quakers from extending their lead.
With the game’s outcome almost assured, Martin Gray made changes during the second 45 minutes, resting Thompson and David Dowson with Nathan Fisher one of the substitutes that were sent on.
He had a couple of shots saved, while at the other end Mark Bell’s only involvement of note saw him saving a good chance that fell to substitute Colin Hunter.
Darlington remain fourth and are seven points off the top. Next Saturday they are at relegation strugglers Ossett Albion.
Goals: Tait (8, 0-1), Thompson (44, 0-2)
Bookings: Thirkwell (50, foul); Harrison (55, foul)
Referee: N Munday
Harrogate RA: Crook, Thirkwell, L Hunter, Wood, Morris, Dixon, Youhill (Ibrahimi 77), Metcalfe, Maloney (Bromley 72), Sellars, Radcliffe (C Hunter 58). Subs (not used): Kidd, Jordan
Darlington: Bell; Harrison, Hunter, White, Galbraith; Tait, Robinson, Hopson; Thompson (Davis 77); Purewal (Johnson 90), Dowson (Fisher 62). Subs (not used): Jameson (gk), Weldon
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