Purewal the architect of Quakers’ great escape

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

Match Analysis: Clitheroe 2 Darlington 3

It was a day when supporters of Premier League teams were encouraged to give non-league a go, and those that visited Clitheroe on Saturday were treated to a thrilling climax that would match any top-flight game for drama.

Darlington surely provided Non League Day's game of the day, showing the requisite desire to come back from 2-0 behind to complete a remarkable 3-2 win with an injury-time goal from Amar Purewal.

However, while they deserve credit for showing the tactical nous and character to complete such a turnaround, they were also responsible for the poor defending that led to them being two behind in the first place.

For the second time in their five games this season there were worrying gaps at the back, which Clitheroe exploited.

Farsley did likewise a fortnight ago and scored four, but on Saturday Quakers nipped it in the bud at the break, when manager Martin Gray made changes and had his say in the changing room.

By full-time the turnaround was complete. Having conceded six goals in the past two away matches though, he now has to ensure such slips do not happen again.

That Gray's first comments after the game were about conceding goals was telling.

"I'm disappointed with the goals we conceded, really disappointed," he said.

"We usually defend better than that. Apart from the goals, they didn't create many chances.

"We didn't defend badly across the game, but the goals they scored were soft. One was a set-piece, one was a simple piece of play, we weren't really carved open, it was soft defending.

"It frustrates me because that's six goals we've conceded away from home in our last two away games - you can't afford to do that."

Jamie Campbell put Clitheroe ahead on 15 minutes when he scored from a corner that owed something to slack marking as well as a significant slope.

A remarkably steep incline at the Shawbridge ground meant corners taken on Quakers' left in the first half required very little elevation, something the hosts are clearly aware of.

Their first corner was drilled across by Chris Dykes to Jamie Campbell, whose header was saved by Mark Bell but the striker forced home the loose ball.

The slope, though, could not excuse Campbell being unmarked.

Gray added: "We just need to tidy things up and we will do. The good thing about these players is that they want to learn, they want to improve.

"None of them have been there and done it so they all want to learn and we will improve."

Alan White does not quite fit Gray's description, having enjoyed a career in the pro game, but even the addition of the 37-year-old was unable to prevent Darlington's defensive mishaps, with a second goal Clitheroe goal coming on 32 minutes.

White and a clearly unfit Terry Galbraith were dribbled past by the impressive Dykes and he dinked the ball over a static defence to Scott Bakkor, who had time to pick his spot.

Gray added: "Hopefully we'll learn from it. The players already know about it. Words were said at half-time and I wanted a reaction.

"The reaction was great. I told them to win the second half, don't concede a goal because you will score goals, as has been proven in the past.

"They got the message. We played at a higher tempo, we closed down quicker and got the ball wide sooner.

"Because of that we got a goal back from Andy Johnson, a great finish with his right foot."

Johnson's obligatory goal gave Darlington a lifeline just after the restart.

After a neat exchange of passes between the former Bishop Auckland forward, Stephen Thompson and Purewal, Johnson slotted home his sixth goal of the campaign, maintaining his record of scoring in every game.

It was game on, with Darlington's display being much improved and putting the Lancashire team under the cosh.

Gray's changes saw Thompson return to the left-wing from the right and Chris Moore replace Paul Robinson and it was soon almost one-way traffic in Quakers' favour.

A Galbraith header was narrowly over and only a terrific tackle by Keith Wenge stopped Purewal from shooting when receiving a Moore cross that had been nutmegged by sub David Dowson, who was on for Johnson.

Purewal finally netted though, grabbing the equaliser on 81 minutes by getting the final touch on Moore's corner at close range for 2-2.

The celebrations were almost subdued, however. Only a victory would be worth celebrating.

And deep into injury time came the dramatic moment.

After Thompson shimmied his way between two defenders he laid the ball off to Dowson and the sub fired the ball across goal for Purewal to turn home and spark jubilant scenes. One or two fans even spilled on to the pitch.

"They've got a will to win. They proved that last season the number of times we went behind and had to come back," said Gray.

"It does show good character and that's what it's all about, but it would help if we didn't give cheap goals away."

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