Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Quakers in driving seat to win title
IT’S taken until the final month of the season, a point at which they are on 106 points, but the destiny of the Northern League title is finally in Darlington’s hands.
Given the number of points accrued and having now won 35 of their 40 games, it’s remarkable that the Quakers and Spennymoor Town headto- head has lasted so long.
The battle between the two continues but now, for the first time, it’s Darlington’s title to lose after what may prove to have been a decisive day on Saturday.
While Quakers enjoyed a 3-0 canter at Whitley Bay, Moors drew against Bishop Auckland, so are now 28 points behind Martin Gray’s men with nine matches in hand.
Win every game and Darlington’s points total would be 124, while Spennymoor can reach 123, but the latter have 15 games to play, while Quakers have only six to go.
Gray, predictably enough, is playing it cool. But he did admit: “It’s in our own hands now, we’ve just got to make sure we stay positive and stay focused, which is what we’ve done all season. If we do that we’ll give ourselves a great chance.
“Nothing has changed though, we’ve just won another game and that’s it.”
The win at Whitley Bay was Quakers’ 15th in succession and ranks among the most notable of the recent run, given the convincing manner in which the visitors took hold of the game from an early stage against the fourthplaced opposition.
Two attempts inside the first two minutes, both by Amar Purewal, were a sign of intent.
Gray said: “In an ideal world you’d start every game like that. You always want to start well and get at the opposition.
It doesn’t always work, but we set our stall out to be positive and be on the front foot. We did that as a team.
“I was here for their win over Dunston last week and they put in a really solid performance, so it was always going to be a tough game, but the performance from our players was excellent.”
It was not until just before the half-hour that they made the breakthrough.
After Bay striker Paul Chow had handled in the box, Stephen Thompson scored his seventh penalty of the season, and before the break the reliable forward had an eighth, this time after Tomi Ameobi had tripped David Dowson.
The two spot-kicks took Quakers’ penalty tally to 20 – 17 of them successful – and although Bay boss Ian Chandler questioned one of them, he had no complaints about the result.
He said: “Darlington were the better team. I said to the lads ‘Have we turned up just to make the numbers up?
Have we turned up expecting to lose?’ That’s what it felt like.
“They dominated, but I felt the two penalties were a little bit harsh, the first one especially.
I thought handball had to be intentional? The ball just bounced up and the referee couldn’t wait to give it.
“But two minutes later the same thing happened with Lee-Paul Scroggins, but the officials didn’t bat an eyelid.
What was the difference? Not that I wanted them to give another penalty!”
Ameobi, brother of Newcastle duo Shola and Sammy, was at centre-back and, penalty concession apart, was outstanding.
Chandler said: “Tomi has been fantastic.
“We had him a couple of years back and he was a typical Ameobi as a centre-forward – did everything right but couldn’t score.
“He went away to Iceland, but he’s back and he’s been fantastic.
“He reads the game well, he’s got pace and he’s very talented.
I hope we can keep him but, you never know, after this I think Darlington might be looking at him!”
The match-clinching third goal came midway through the second half, Scroggins inadvertently heading into his goal after Thompson’s freekick.
Quakers’ defender Joe Tait was later amazingly awarded the goal, despite Scroggins clearly getting the touch.
With the game effectively won with 22 minutes to play, attention turned to Heritage Park, where Bishops were beating Spennymoor 1-0 thanks to a goal from Andy Johnson, a striker who Darlington skipper Gary Brown has known since they played junior football together.
Johnson couldn’t get another goal for his pal and Quakers’ landlords were unable to hold their lead, but Moors’ draw puts Darlington in the driving seat.
Their next fixture is against West Auckland on Saturday, and Gray said: “We’ve got six games left and they’re all massive.
“But it’s important the players enjoy this one because what they’ve achieved up to now has been unbelievable.”
More Darlington 1883 News
Comments are closed on this article.