Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Darlington end season on a high
Darlington 3 Kettering Town 1
Darlington ended the season today by finally bringing to an end their winless run.
They were relegated a fortnight ago so today’s match against Kettering, who are also dropping down a division, meant little in terms of league position, but manager Craig Liddle was desperate for win.
And he got it too as Quakers restored some pride with a much-needed 3-1 win at The Northern Echo Arena.
Ryan Bowman put Darlington ahead just after the half-hour mark after a neat pass by John McReady.
The teenage play-maker timed his pass to perfection, playing a perfectly-weighted ball ahead of Bowman to slot past keeper Laurie Walker.
That goal came just as Quakers got into the stride after what had been a tepid first 20 minutes between teams who began the day 22nd and 24th in the division respectively.
Bowman was laying alongside Haydn Hollis, the centre-back playing as an unorthodox forward in the absence of the suspended Drewe Broughton, and twice before half-time Walker saved from the defender.
The second attempt was a fine half-volley that Hollis struck sweetly, taking advantage of indecision in the Kettering defence.
Quakers gave a debut to keeper Jordan Nixon who was well-protected in the first half. Catching an up-and-under free-kick under his own crossbar was as involved as he got before the break.
The first half may have begun slowly, but within three minutes of the restart Bowman bagged his second goal of the day.
Adam Runle played the striker into position and he kept his cool to round Walker and give Quakers a two-goal advantage.
Darlington enjoyed the same lead in their last home game, against Bath City, when they ended up drawing 2-2 and supporters were anxious when Kettering pulled one back.
It came from the penalty spot when Paul Johnson was adjudged to have pulled Charlie Wyke’s shirt.
Johnson was booked too and Darlington were stunned by the decision, but Wyke, on loan from Middlesbrough, netted to give the Poppies some hope on 59 minutes.
But Quakers were not unduly troubled by Kettering with Aaron Brown and Bowman both being denied by Walker.
The keeper made flying saves to deny Darlington’s left-back at a free-kick and also to stop Bowman’s low drive.
Bowman was also denied his hat-trick when he volleyed against the crossbar as Quakers continually opened up the visitors who included former Darlington forward James Gray in their side.
The lime green-booted player appeared to have a point to prove, putting in a high work rate, and he was at the centre of attention when he fell over Paul Arnison in Quakers’ penalty area, a moment which ensured he was booed by home supporters.
Darlington supporters were cheering, though, on 74 minutes when the seal was put on the club’s first victory since mid-December.
A fine passing move inside Kettering’s half involved most of Quakers midfield and attack and ended with Rundle playing the ball into the six-yard box where Hollis back-heeled it towards goal.
The ball crossed the line with Ben Ford appearing to get the final touch on a goal that was the 100th that Kettering have conceded this season.
A 101st did not come as Darlington completed the game and the season without any further incident bringing the curtain down on the most traumatic of seasons.
Question marks remain over which division the club will play next season and even if the club will continue at all, but a creditors meeting next week should go some way to resolving these matters.
But Liddle appears to be on his way. He admitted after the game: “I can’t lie to people, the likelihood is that this will have been my last game for the football club.”
Goals: Bowman (31, 1-0), Bowman (48, 2-0); Wyke pen (59, 2-1); Ford og (74, 3-1)
Bookings: Noubissie (45, foul); Johnson (59, foul)
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)
Darlington (4-4-2): Nixon; Arnison, Johnson, Taylor, Brown; Wainwright (Lambert 60), Keltie, McReady; Rundle, Bowman, Hollis. Subs (not used): Ferguson, Barton
Kettering Town (4-4-2): Walker; Noubissie, Westwood, Sangare, Palmer (York 75); Gray, Ford, Bridges, Mills; Joyce, Wyke. Subs (not used): Navarro, Petranyuk