Final Score: Darlington 7 Ossett Albion 0
DARLINGTON can’t wait to return to their home town, but maybe Heritage Park isn’t such a bad temporary home.
Twenty-four hours after announcing plans to return home next year, Quakers went top of the table with a magnificent performance at their temporary home that saw them ease to a 7-0 win over Ossett Albion.
The blistering start saw them go 2-0 up inside 70 seconds and it was 5-0 by half-time.
They needed to win by six clear goals to overhaul Curzon Ashton and were halfway there by the ninth minute as they made it three.
Manager Martin Gray admitted: “I’ve been in football a long time and I’ve never seen anything like it, scoring two goals so early.
“You always want your team to start well. It was a dream start and it set the tone for the game.”
It was display every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggests with five different players getting on the scoresheet.
Watch highlights from the match
Gray described it as the best display since taking charge in May 2012.
“It was the best performance we’ve had here by far,” he said. “From start to finish we controlled the game and to put in a performance in like that, with the effort and the energy, made me very proud.
“Scoring the early goals was perfect, but having said that it’s very easy to get complacent and sloppy in those situations.
“The message at half-time was to maintain the same standards and it could have been 5-0 in the second half too.
“I don’t know if you can say the opposition was poor, but you can only beat what’s in front of you.”
The first two goals were timed at 17 seconds and 64 seconds.
Amar Purewal opened the scoring when he side-footed home after Stephen Thompson beat two men and pulled the ball back from the byline.
The man on the PA system had barely time to announce the goal when the scoreline was doubled.
This time it was Thompson who Ossett allowed to pass into the net with Chris Moore providing the first of four goals he was involved in before the break.
He raced down the right and crossed for Purewal who had ghosted into space to tap home.
Going 3-0 up and having effectively won the game so early meant there was no competitive edge, an occasional lull, and a sometimes quiet atmosphere with the crowd of 947 the lowest of the season.
Those who stayed away missed out on a goal glut.
There was the occasional brief respite for second-bottom Ossett, but when given a chance Adam Muller put a free header over.
A quick-fire David Dowson double made it 5-0 just after the half-hour mark.
With the visitors’ defence AWOL, Dowson’s first saw him tuck home following a spell of passes on the right ending in another Moore assist, before the right-winger delivered to Purewal whose back-heel was rifled into the net by Dowson.
Purewal wasted a one-on-one after chasing a ball over the top when keeper Adam Rhodes made his first save of the evening and he quickly followed it up with another, this time to stop a Thompson blast.
Midfielder Pat McGuire was sent on at half-time for what was a young Ossett side, who were probably given the instruction to ‘win the second half’.
They made a go of it and, as is often the case when a team has built such a healthy lead, the game went flat for spell.
Thompson played a beautifully flighted pass for Purewal to run on to, but his touch was awful and the chance was gone.
However, he soon atoned when he got to the byline and crossed for Scott to lash home his first goal of the season.
Purewal is now Darlington’s leading scorer with seven, but could have had five or six last night had his aim been better.
Although his final intervention of the night saw him beat the keeper, the shot rebounded off the inside of the post.
That was his last touch as he was soon substituted and replaced by Steven Johnson, who clearly desperately wanted a goal on his first Heritage Park appearance since last season.
He got it too, sliding home in the 88th minute at close-range following good work inside the penalty area by man-of-the-match Dowson to complete Darlington’s magnificent seven – the club’s biggest win since beating Halifax Town in the Football League Trophy in 1984-85.
Goals: Purewal (1, 1-0), Thompson (2, 2-0), Purewal (9, 3-0), Dowson (32, 4-0), Dowson (36, 5-0), Scott (57, 6-0), S Johnson (88, 7-0)
Bookings: White (20, foul), Moore (33, foul); O’Brien (35, foul); P Robinson (68, simulation)
Referee: Barry Gordon (Birtley)
Darlington (4-4-2): Bell 7; Pilatos 8, White 8, Hunter 7, Galbraith 7; Moore 9, Scott 8, Edwards 7 (Davis 63, 6), Thompson 8 (P Robinson 67, 6); DOWSON 9, Purewal 8 (S Johnson 60, 7). Subs (not used): Jameson (gk), J Robinson
Ossett Albion (4-4-2): RHODES 5; Nicholson 4, Harrison 3, O’Neill 4, Parkinson 3; Tonkinson 3, Hayton 4 (Hiza 62), O’Brien 3 (McGuire 5), Muller 3; Jones 4 (Holt 72), Kelly 4. Subs (not used): Poole, Owen
Man of the match: DAVID Dowson – A menace. Scored twice and involved in other goals too