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Mixed fortunes as Quakers return to action
Darlington experienced mixed results at the weekend as they began their pre-season friendlies with a win and a defeat in successive days.
They followed up Friday evening's 2-1 win at Shildon with a 3-1 defeat at Whitby Town, when they were second best, particularly in the second half, and defensive mistakes led to their downfall.
But, in the circumstances, Quakers will not be too concerned about the scoreline or the performance, with fitness and bedding in new players being the priority.
New defender Chris Hunter played the entire 90 minutes on Saturday, while most of his team-mates were given 45 minutes each, as were trialists Dan Riley, Alex Francis, Axel Williamson and Rory Prendergast.
Assistant manager Brian Atkinson said: "We are not going to read too much into the performance or the result because these games are about fitness and getting players back into playing games after they've had a few weeks off.
"I think Whitby looked sharper than us, but this was our second game in two days.
"We've had a few training sessions and then we've had these two games in two days, when most players have had a half each, just to get back into the swing of things."
It was in defence were Quakers were lacking, with all three goals being sloppily conceded, including Whitby's opener on ten minutes.
David Mitchell, in the youth team last season and playing at right-back on Saturday, was unable to deal with a long ball and in stole Steven Snaith to fire past Mark Bell.
Williamson saw a powerful shot parried by Whitby keeper Shane Bland before Darlington equalised on the half-hour, Amar Purewal tapping home after exchanging passes with Chris Moore.
In contrast to Friday's tame affair, Saturday was more competitive, with more conviction in the challenges, and little about the fixture was friendly for Whitby's David McTiernan. He escaped punishment for a number of infringements, including kicking a grounded Jonny Davis.
Darlington enjoyed a decent spell either side of the break, with David Dowson hitting the post and Johnson twice coming close to scoring, while Riley saw Mark Robinson clear an effort off the line.
The hosts began to boss proceedings, though, and two uncharacteristic Gary Brown errors, including a spectacular own goal, handed Whitby the win.
First, a back-pass gave Bell no chance and in nipped substitute Mark Emmerson to score in an empty net, then came a comical goal. Attempting to clear up field on the edge of the penalty area, the captain instead sliced the ball over his own goalkeeper. Quakers rallied but Whitby stood firm to secure the win.
Darlington play again on Wednesday at Newton Aycliffe.
Whitby Town (4-4-2): Bland; Hassan, James, Burgess, Robinson; Henry, McTiernan, Wysocki, Mulligan; Farrell, Snaith.
Darlington first half (4-4-2): Bell; Mitchell, Hunter, Gott (J Robinson 22), Scott; Moore, Davis, Galbraith, Williamson; Purewal, Dowson.
Darlington second half (4-4-2): Bell; J Robinson, Hunter, Brown, Prendergast; Riley, Francis, P Robinson, Thompson; A Johnson, Purewal (Dowson 65).