Salford City 0 Darlington 2
Two second half goals put Darlington back on the winning track at Salford City and provided the perfect reaction to the midweek defeat at Ramsbottom United.
Martin Gray had guaranteed a better performance today and he was proved right.
His side was defensively resilient and much more assured than on Tuesday, with Chris Hunter looking more comfortable in the centre of a new-look defence that saw Bruno Pilatos start at right-back.
With Leon Scott bolstering the midfield, Darlington restricted Salford’s chances during what was an even first half with keeper Mark Bell having only one saved to make, pushing Aaron Swift’s long-range effort wide.
Darlington may not have threatened in the first 45 minutes, but it took less than 60 seconds of the second period to make a breakthrough with David Dowson scoring.
He executed a back-heel at close-range, after receiving a Chris Moore cross, and thereafter it was plain sailing for the visitors.
They were in control for the remainder of the contest and it was no surprise when they added a second goal on 71 minutes with Stephen Thompson netting.
His fourth goal was a tremendous strike from 25 yards, a powerful effort that pierced a crowd of defenders and keeper Kieran O’Boyle stood no chance.
Darlington felt they should have had a penalty for handball and then Steven Johnson, making his first appearance of the season, tried a lob that O’Boyle dealt with.
Johnson was included as Andy Johnson failed a fitness test on an injury sustained on Tuesday, while Amar Purewal has an ankle problem.
Goals: Dowson (46, 1-0), Thompson (71, 2-0)
Bookings: Bond (45, foul), Mota (86, foul)
Referee: Alan Bennett
Salford City: O’Boyle, Aston, Browne (Prescott 50), Swift, Gorman, Walters, Hodgkinson, Gill, Bond, Bancroft (Ruiz 77), Mota. Subs (not used): Oriol, Matthews, Fitzgerald
Darlington: Bell; Pilatos, Hunter, White, Galbraith; Moore, Edwards (Davis 77), Scott, P Robinson (S Johnson 61); Dowson, Thompson (Cocks 90). Subs (not used): Brown, J Robinson