Quakers hit top gear after motorway delay

PRETTY IN PINK: Quakers celebrate Steve Thompson's strike

PRETTY IN PINK: Quakers celebrate Steve Thompson's strike

First published in Match Reports
Last updated
Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Sports Editor

Final Score: Bamber Bridge 0 Darlington 3

Darlington's game at Bamber Bridge kicked-off an hour late after they were caught in traffic en route, but they showed no signs of being stuck in neutral as they romped to a convincing and thrilling win.

An eight-mile tailback on the M6 resulted in the team coach spending a couple of miserable hours in nose-to-tail traffic.

Darlington, who changed into their kit on the coach, eventually reached the ground half an hour after the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off with referee Nicholas Barnard allowing them 30 minutes to warm-up.

The time allowed some of their delayed fans to reach Bamber Bridge, and the team's performance was worth the wait as two goals from Andy Johnson and a stunning Stephen Thompson strike secured the win.

Far from being ponderous in possession as might have been expected in the circumstances, Quakers were sharp and merited their second win of the season against a side who finished ninth last season.

They ended one place ahead of Warrington Town who Darlington defeated on the opening day and manager Martin Gray made one change to Saturday's starting XI. In light of his dramatic debut, it was no surprise to see Johnson selected.

He was Gray's only change, though the whole team had an unfamiliar appearance as, for the first time Darlington wore their new pink and navy kit, which promotes St Theresa's Hospice.

There was nothing charitable, however, about the team's start. They were soon on top and had a handful of half chances with Johnson and Thompson among those causing problems to Bridge.

Having taken a couple of seconds to make his mark on Saturday, he had to wait until the 38th minute before scoring, the goal typical of his fox-in-the-box nature.

Johnson collected the ball from Thompson with his back to goal, but with seemingly nowhere to turn he managed to skirt past a defender and curl the ball home.

And before half-time the predatory striker was showing his instincts again, this time flicking home a corner and Terry Galbraith was again the provider.

On Saturday the ball-playing midfielder delivered the curling cross from which Johnson netted, and last night they combined again with Galbraith's curling corner being met by a near post header.

Johnson was close to a hat-trick on half-time. He fired into the side-netting after showing a typical adroit touch to wriggle away from defender after receiving a pass from Chris Moore.

The right-winger popped up on the opposite flank shortly after the restart to create another chance, this time seeing his delivery give Jordan Robinson a chance to score with a header that was collected easily by the keeper.

The keeper had no chance, though, of stopping a spectacular strike by Thompson which made it 3-0.

Ten minutes into the second half, the play-maker picked up possession 30 yards from goal, took advantage of the space afforded to him and blasted into the roof of the net.

The eye-catching strike underlined why Thompson is so important as surely few in the squad are capable of such a goal. Just as well then, that he managed to wangle half a shift off his job in a warehouse, although he was due to return to work at 2am this morning.

Those that arrived late, and given free entry by Bamber Bridge, were treated to a fine contest that was competitive to the last with both team forcing chances.

In a thrilling finish, Lawlor cut out Moore's low cross at the near post, a Purewal shot was pushed wide by Dovey, Kerry Hedley had a shot blocked by Lawlor and Quakers' Chris Hunter cleared off the line from Dan Wilkins.

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