8:00am Monday 23rd December 2013
By Craig Stoddart
On the day the town heralded its first world champion boxer, it was fitting that Darlington were able to employ the well-worn phrase 'had it been a boxing match the referee would've stopped the contest'.
Hours before Stuart Hall won the IBF world bantamweight title, Quakers completed a 7-0 thrashing of Burscough, a match in which they were 4-0 up by the break during an encounter as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.
In a team performance as good as you're likely to see at this level, the magnificent seven-goal victory represents Darlington's sixth successive win and again Stephen Thompson stole the limelight.
He netted an 18-minute first-half hat-trick, which featured two goals belonging to a higher level of football.
A pinpoint free-kick every bit as good as Yaya Toure's for Manchester City on Saturday was followed by a sensational volley. It was lethal finishing of the sort that would interest clubs from higher echelons, especially if they were able to watch the goals online.
So perhaps it is a blessing that, unlike Quakers' home matches, Saturday's encounter was not caught on camera.
Sadly, it also means that for fans who could not attend the goals will, like those Thompson netted at Bamber Bridge and New Mills, forever exist only in the memories of those fortunate enough to have been there.
"Every time I score a worldy the camera isn't here!" said Thompson. "It's happened a few times now, I'll have to save some goals for Bishop.
"I have scored a couple of good ones at home, but if the camera man had been here it would've been nice to look back on them."
Blessed with natural ability and strength that leaves defenders bouncing off him, Thompson has netted 16 times in 26 appearances this season.
Manager Martin Gray revealed: "Clubs have shown interest, we've had calls, but he's a Darlington player and long may that continue.
"He's a top player at this level of football and you can understand why clubs are attracted to him. He's got 16 goals and he's not an out and out centre-forward."
The manager clearly wants to hang on to his prize asset as Quakers gear up for an assault on promotion.
They remain fourth, but are nicely poised, having already played most of their promotion rivals home and away and right now possess that most-sought after of sporting traits: momentum.
From the moment Amar Purewal headed home on 18 minutes, after meeting a Terry Galbraith corner, a Darlington win looked likely.
Thompson's free-kick goal came after Burscough defender Joe Camozzi, who has a name that suggests he should be in a US cop show, had arrested the playmaker's progress with a rash challenge.
The top-corner strike would have been the talking point had he not superseded it ten minutes later with a 22-yard volley to make it 3-0. An immaculate touch to bring the ball under control was just as impressive as the finish.
His second hat-trick for the club was completed just before the break. The hardworking David Dowson forced a defender into losing possession before pulling the ball back for Thompson to net from ten yards - only his second goal from inside the penalty area this season.
With the match ball safely in his kitbag, Thompson reflected: "The volley was the best goal.
"I played Dows in and he passed the ball back, but because the pitch wasn't the best it bounced up. It was up near my chest, but I brought it down with my foot, swivelled and hit it.
"The touch was probably the best part and as soon as I hit it I knew it was in because it was moving away from the keeper. I think the keeper thought about going for it, but then he just stood and looked at it."
Just as keeper Tim Horn could not be blamed for the goals, neither should mid-table Burscough be too concerned about their performance. Darlington simply enjoyed one of those days when everything clicked.
It was appropriate that right-back Stephen Harrison returned to the line-up as the performance was a reminder of some of last season's, when Quakers powered their way past opponents.
The second half was a continuation of the first, with Darlington going for goal. They're now the second highest scorers in the division behind Kendal, who've played two more games.
Dale Hopson and Nathan Fisher were sent on at the break, but the latter wasted his best chance with a heavy touch when played in by Thompson.
Alan White scored his first league goals of the season with two headers. The first came when Hopson crossed the ball after the corner had been cleared, the second after meeting the substitute's set-piece delivery.
Between White's brace, Purewal also doubled up by capitalising on a defensive mistake to score his 13th of the season. His impact is too often overlooked due to Thompson's achievements, but Purewal has 37 league goals in 63 appearances.
"It's great to give the fans a result like that at Christmas. You can't ask for more than seven goals and a clean sheet," added Gray.
"We have been playing well, but the difference today was the finishing. Burscough didn't create anything at all, and from the first goal onwards it was one-way traffic."
Darlington hope for more of the same, and perhaps another special Thompson strike, when they play second-bottom Wakefield on Boxing Day.
Goals: Purewal (18, 0-1), Thompson (28, 0-2), Thompson (38, 0-3), Thompson (45, 0-4), White (63, 0-5), Purewal (76, 0-6), White (86, 0-7)
Bookings: Camozzi (27, foul), Toner (83, foul); White (84, dissent)
Referee: James Wilson
Burscough (4-4-2): Horn 6; Clarke 5, Camozzi 4, Duff 4, Short 5; Brookfield 4, Roberts 5 (Brown 14, 5), TONER 6, Beesley 5, Caddick 4, Williams 4. Subs: Dykes, Robinson, Quirk, McLaughlin
Darlington (4-3-1-2): Bell 7; Harrison 7, White 8, Hunter 7, Galbraith 7 (Hopson 46, 7); Robinson 8, Scott 7, Davis 8; THOMPSON 10 (Mitchell 68, 7); Purewal 9, Dowson 8 (Fisher 46, 6). Subs (not used): Jameson (gk), Coatsworth
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stephen Thompson - Two sublime goals featured in a first-half hat-trick
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