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Quakers suffer defeat to four-midable Guisborough
Guisborough Town became the first team to claim Darlington’s scalp with a shock 4-1 win last night.
Having begun the season with four successive wins, Quakers were in confident mood before visiting the Priorymen who had conceded 18 goals during their six games before last night.
From the moment they took an early lead at the King George V ground, Guisborough rarely looked liked succumbing to Martin Gray’s men.
He admitted his side were second best, saying: “We didn’t defend well as a team right from the start to the game, from the keeper right through to the forwards. They didn’t do what was asked of them and never got to grips with the game.
“Not one of their goals was from good play. They didn’t carve us open, it was poor defending from us and we conceded from two set-plays which I’m not happy about.”
After only six minutes Liam McPhillips free-kick from wide on the left was floated into the penalty area where Austin Johnson had evaded his marker to head beyond Jack Norton.
The goal, only the second Quakers had conceded this season, stunned the majority od the 1,327 attendance - the highest ever league crowd King George V.
And within a further six minutes the lead could’ve been doubled as, again from a set-piece, Gary Wood was narrowly off target with a header.
A third chance came when McPhillips escaped the Darlington defence to latch on to a long pass, but Norton back-peddled to tip the striker’s effort over the bar.
It was not until just before the half-hour mark that Quakers forced even a half chance, but Shaun Reay overran the ball and keeper Ben Escritt collected.
Despite that glimpse of goal, Darlington continued to struggle so it was no surprise when McPhillips added the second.
He collected a ball played from deep, held off Arjun Purewal and fired beyond Norton for a simple goal that owed much to weak defending.
Gray was without centre-back Gary Brown for the first time this season as the captain has gone on holiday to Las Vegas with new signing Matthew Grieve in his place.
The manager added: “Gary’s been a big player for us, but one player does not make a team.
“Of course he was missed, but it’s times like tonight you’re looking for someone else to stand up and take that role.”
Midfielder Leon Scott took Brown’s captain’s armband, but in the centre of the pitch Darlington were lacking throughout, unable to keep possession or beaten to high balls far too frequently.
Gray, clearly unimpressed, at the break changed formation and sent on Darren Richardson, but it took some time before Quakers were able break down their stubborn opponents.
Ten minutes in, Steven Johnson was sent on and after his introduction Escritt was called on to make his first save, stopping a shot from David Dowson.
Then followed a period of possession for Gray’s men who saw plenty of the ball during the second half without creating many clear chances.
Guisborough, however, managed to add a third from Lee Bythway. At a corner, conceded when Norton had pushed over a shot from halfway by Bytheway, he powerfully headed home in the 71st minute.
And the fourth came in the dying minutes when Johnston tapped into an empty net after being played in by Adam Gell, though there was time for Adam Nicholls to net from the edge of the penalty area after a corner to make it 4-1.
But it counted for little at the end of chastening defeat for Darlington and Gray added:”Hopefully it’s just a one-off.
“We’ll have a talk about things, we’re training on Thursday night and we’ll look at how we can improve for Saturday against Consett .”