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Darlington's six of the best
Darlington 6 Ashington 1
Darlington’s ninth win from nine home games took them nine points clear at the top of the table today.
After the disappointing display in midweek against South Shields, an impressive performance saw Quakers overcome Ashington 6-1 at Heritage Park, during which they surpassed the 50-goal mark for the season.
That moment came with Stephen Thompson’s penalty at the beginning of a second half that Darlington dominated, scoring four goals.
It was 2-1 at the break, but only after Ashington had taken an eighth-minute lead. Andrew Johnson headed home after meeting an Andrew Dugdale cross.
However, the goal had come against the run of play as Quakers had started well – David Dowson almost scoring after 21 seconds – and they hit back within two minutes, Leon Scott scoring his fifth goal in six matches.
He tucked home after Ashington keeper Karl Dryden had palmed away a right-wing cross by Dowson, and in the 13th minute Thompson got his first goal of the day, drilling home from the right-side of the penalty area.
Quakers went on to carve open the Colliers on a number of occasions and could have added more to their tally in the first 45 minutes.
Amar Purewal brought out a save from Dryden who dived comfortably to his right, Purewal also saw Liam Atkin deflect an effort over the bar, Dowson hit the advertising hoarding from 20 yards and then Purewal lashed an effort across the face of the goal.
Dowson returned to the side after missing six matches with a groin strain, but he could not mark his return by getting on the scoresheet despite several attempts.
His best opportunity came when he turned smartly in the penalty area before shooting low, but the Ashington keeper came off his line quickly to save.
Although Quakers were on top, the visitors occasionally threatened. Striker Glen Taylor, loaned to Ashington by Darlington’s promotion rivals Spennymoor just in time for the game, saw an acrobatic effort blocked by Adam Nicholls after meeting a Johnson cross.
Thompson’s penalty, and Quakers’ half century of goals, came three minutes after the restart when Nicholls had been tripped by James Taylor and Nicholls was also involved in Darlington’s fourth goal.
His cross from the right was headed goal-wards by Gary Brown and parried by Dryden to Purewal to head home at close-range on 63 minutes.
It was soon 5-1. After a run into the box by substitute Shaun Reay on for Dowson – his shot was diverted and arched high into the air until it dropped at the far post to Scott to head home from a yard.
His goal was his sixth in Quakers’ last six games and meant Darlington reached the five-goal mark for the fourth time this season.
Ashington were not completely out of the picture. Lewis Storie drew applause after coming close with a vicious dipping volley that brushed the top of the net.
Within a minute Shaun Reay comes close with a lob, shooting over Dryden and just over the crossbar.
Chris Emms was a substitute for Darlington, bringing to an end his run as the only outfield player to start every league match this season.
He replaced Nicholls on 77 minutes and in the closing stages was twice involved in crucial moments. Stephen Harrison hits the post for Darlington after being played in by Emms, with the overlapping right-back’s shot tipped onto the upright by the Ashington keeper.
Emms himself added the sixth goal. After receiving a pass midway inside the visitors’ half from fellow substitute Steven Johnson, running at goal and rolling the ball beyond Dryden.
That put the seal on Quakers’ 6-1 win, taking their tally of goals to 53 for the season in what was a tenth successive win. More importantly, however, they are now nine points clear of Spennymoor Town at the top of the Northern League.
Darlington have the opportunity to go 12 points clear when they travel to Celtic Nation on Tuesday when Moors are not in action.
Goals: Johnson (8, 0-1); Scott (10, 1-1); Thompson (13, 2-1), Thompson (48, 3-1), Amar Purewal (63, 4-1); Scott (67, 5-1), Emms (89, 6-1)
Bookings: Grieve (49, foul)
Referee: Alan Marshall
Darlington (4-4-2): Norton; Harrison, Brown, Tait, Richardson; Amar Purewal, Scott, Clough, Nicholls (Emms 77); Dowson (Reay 53), Thompson (Johnson 69). Subs (not used): Morris (gk), Arjun Purewal
Ashington (4-4-2): Dryden; Williams (Storie 46), Atkin, Grieve, Scott (Dobbie, 33); Taylor, Antony, Dugdale (O’Dea 64), Johnson; Walton, Taylor. Subs (not used): Bainbridge, Bell, Dobbie