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Thompson’s secret weapon
Stephen Thompson has scored some cracking goals this season and suspects he knows the simple reason behind his success - the opposition have yet to discover that he's right-footed.
He was Darlington's player of the year as they marched to the Northern League title, scoring 23 goals and creating many more.
And after 13 appearances at a higher level during the current campaign he's notched six goals, with three of them being eye-catching moments of the sort that have permeated his Quakers displays since joining a year ago.
While his equaliser at home to Prescot Cables last weekend came following a free-kick, strikes at Bamber Bridge and Salford were trademark Thompson: blasted with power from outside the penalty area after cutting inside from the wing.
He explained: "Because I'm playing on the left, defenders keep showing me inside on to my right, which they probably think is weaker, but it's actually my stronger foot, so I think that's why I'm getting more shots in and have scored a couple of long-range goals.
"Northern League players get to know you, but players at this level probably don't know my right foot is stronger. If they do that then I'm going to take the chance.
"I'd settle for a tap-in every game, but when you score a screamer you enjoy celebrating it. The Bamber Bridge one was probably the best goal I've scored, that was a good goal.
"It was right in the top corner. I'd just come inside and I smashed it, one of those when as soon as it has left your foot you know it's in."
The goal against Prescot Cables was Thompson's 25th in his 50th Darlington game in all competitions.
Game 51 on Monday evening, however, was not so successful. Curzon Ashton won 1-0 to knock Darlington off the top of Evo-Stik North table and they were clearly aware how dangerous the playmaker can be as right-back Simon Woodford twice clattered Thompson early on.
However, it was Thompson's pass that led to winger Chris Moore striking a post.
Moore and Thompson occasionally swap flanks and playing on the left now suits the former Durham City attacker, which is in contrast to last season.
"This year I've started scoring more goals than I did last season, when I was getting more assists," he said.
"Last year, I'd have said I preferred to play up front all day long, but I'm getting used to playing out wide and I'm getting a lot of the ball.
"I'm probably more dangerous when getting the ball and running at people with it. I'm not a back-to-goal kind of player, I like to run at defenders.
"I like to play on the left because I can come inside on to my right and score a few screamers."
He will hope to score another today when Darlington play in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy at Buxton, a team placed seventh in the Evo-Stik League Northern Premier League Premier Division.
It's a chance to not only progress and make the club some money - the winners receive £2,700 - but also prove Darlington's credentials against a team from a higher level.
Thompson is among those that could surely hold his own further up the non-league pyramid and he said: "I think I could play higher, given the chance.
"I've got to do what I can here and see what happens. You've got to do well in these leagues and work your way up."
Darlington overcame Ossett Town 6-1 in the last round.
Thompson added: "Last year Martin (Gray) wasn't really concerned with the cups. But the FA Trophy, and the FA Cup, when we get into that next year, are big competitions.
"The Durham Challenge Cup is a chance for young lads to prove they should be in the first team, but Darlington won the Trophy a couple of years ago so we're taking it seriously and we'll go as far as we can.
"Nobody is saying we're going to win it, but it would be nice to get through a few rounds and get a Conference team. That would be a chance for a few of the lads to prove what they can do and prove they should be playing a few levels higher."
* If today's match ends in a draw, the replay will be at Heritage Park on Wednesday, October 23 (7.45pm). Buxton have announced that no musical instruments are permitted into their ground.
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