Farsley 4 Darlington 2
Darlington suffered their first defeat since last December as they suffered a shock 4-2 loss at Farsley for whom Aidan Savory notched a hat-trick.
Two penalties changed the game. Farsley scored theirs to go 1-0 up and alter the dynamic of a game that Quakers had started promisingly, and with ten minutes to go Darlington missed a penalty at 4-2 down just when they looked like mounting a comeback.
However, it was poor defensive work that cost Quakers. Until today they had not conceded in their first two games of the season, but they were sloppy at the back throughout and the absence of the injured Gary Brown was apparent.
Manager Martin Gray selected the same side that was so impressive in the midweek win at Bamber Bridge and they looked like continuing that form when they began in command.
Stephen Thompson was on a mission and at the centre of everything dangerous Darlington did. After beating a full-back he flashed a ball across goal but there was no team-mate on hand to take advantage and he then blasted a fierce drive at goal that Tom Morgan saved with his feet.
Then came a goal for Farsley by Rob O’Brien from the penalty spot. It came out of the blue, Darlington had been on top until Farsley’s first attack when Savory was tripped by Leon Scott and suddenly the game’s dynamic changed.
While Quakers were adversely affected, Farsley were buoyed by the goal and only an excellent fingertip save by Mark Bell kept it at 1-0 when Savory tried his luck with an audacious volley.
It was not long before it was 2-0 though. Leon Scott missed his kick and allowed in that man Savory to shoot confidently shoot beyond Bell.
It was to get worse for Quakers. On 35 minutes it was 3-0 with Savory adding his second with a goal that summed up Darlington’s defensive deficiencies.
After Scott conceded a free-kick by handling the ball, Paddy Miller hit the crossbar from the set-piece, Quakers could not clear the loose ball and Savory pounced to ram home from close-range.
Just before the break, Darlington pull one back via Andy Johnson for 3-1. After a Chris Moore cross, Thompson turned a defender inside out and blasted into the six yard box where Johnson turned home for his fourth goal for the club.
Encouraged by that goal, Darlington will have wanted to make a positive start to the second period, but it was Bell who had to make the first save after the restart. He stopped a volley by Marc Thompson after the keeper’s punch fell to Farsley’s No. 11.
Andy Johnson got to the byline, but shot at goal from a narrow angle instead of shooting to the better-positioned David Dowson, who was on as a sub, or Chris Moore.
At 3-1, Darlington felt they still had hope. But that was extinguished when Savory scored his hat-trick when Darlington unable to deal with a throw-in. Savory collected the ball and turned past a defender before unleashing a powerful shot into the corner for 4-1.
Paul Robinson, also on as a sub, saw a shot punched away by keeper Tom Morgan, who seemed to lose the flight of the ball, but he was unable to stop Thompson’s next effort.
He tucked the ball home with a low drive after receiving Johnson’s pull-back from the byline to make it 4-2 with 17 minutes to play.
With time ticking, Farsley showed little interested in attacking while Darlington piled forward and they thought they’d pulled one back, but Dowson’s ‘goal’ was ruled offside.
Gray’s side were making a real go of it. A Moore shot was beaten away for a corner by Morgan and the winger also blasted the ball across goal, but Johnson couldn’t turn home.
Then came the lifeline Darlington needed: a penalty, won when Johnson was felled by Matt Young.
With Terry Galbraith having been substituted, Thompson was on the spot but he blasted well wide and the chance of an unlikely comeback was over.
Darlington attempt to return to winning ways against Kendal at Heritage Park on Monday.
Goals: O’Brien pen (13, 1-0), Savory (31, 2-0), Savory (35, 3-0); A Johnson (44, 3-1); Savory (56, 4-1); Thompson (73, 4-2)
Bookings: James (44, foul); Dowson (68, ungentlemanly conduct)
Referee: Paul Vardy
Farsley (4-4-2): Morgan, Lloyd, Serrant, O’Brien, Riley (Etherington 23), Miller, James (Hull 81), Young, Ellington, Savory (Grant 90), Thompson. Subs (not used): Higginson (gk), Bambrook
Darlington (4-4-2): Bell; Hunter, J Robinson, Scott, Welden; Moore, Davis (P Robinson 64), Galbraith (Gott 54), Thompson; A Johnson, Purewal (Dowson 54). Subs (not used): Turns (gk), K Hedley