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Four-midable Darlington stay top
Final Score: Penrith 1 Darlington 4
A DOUBLE from Adam Nicholls helped Darlington to another high-scoring win.
Their goal tally now stands at 24 in their last seven games, all of them victories, after they won 4-1 at rain-soaked Penrith.
The match passed a mid-afternoon pitch inspection following torrential rain in Cumbria, so the conditions made for a tough fixture against lowly opposition who put up stubborn resistance.
The scoreline was level for a lengthy period until the hosts had a man sent off on the hour, and thereafter it was a stroll for Martin Gray's men.
He said: "The conditions were horrendous. For most of the game the rain was belting down and Penrith made it very difficult for us with their 4-5-1 formation.
"They kept themselves in the game for a while. This was a big match for them and they competed well. So this was a big win for us and in the second half our performance was great."
Gray named an unchanged team as he sought a repeat of Saturday's comprehensive win and at Frenchfield Park they started where they left off against Newcastle Benfield.
New midfielder Craig Gott fired in an early shot saved by Penrith keeper Jonny Jamieson who soon escaped punishment when he scythed down Leon Scott outside the penalty area.
The keeper had slid into Scott on the slippery pitch, which had drained well.
But the sodden playing surface made for testing conditions with individual errors always likely.
Penrith right-back Willy Paul made a mistake when he got the ball caught under his feet, allowing Amar Purewal to break into the penalty area, but Paul recovered to execute a fine challenge.
Quakers' breakthrough finally came on 25 minutes with a fine goal.
Short and sharp passing on halfway led to Scott playing a forward ball to Stephen Thompson whose pass into the penalty area allowed Chris Emms to round the keeper.
"It was a great first goal," said Gray. "It was nice one-touch play from Scott to Thompson to Emms to round the keeper. That was fantastic.
"But then we conceded a really sloppy goal from a set-piece. We spoke about it at half-time, and in the second half we won every header in our box, which is what you've got to do."
The sloppy goal came ten minutes after Emms' opener. Matthew Read's inswinging corner saw Steven Rigg head powerfully past Norton.
Quakers cannot say they had not been warned as Rigg scored four, three of them headers, in Penrith's shock 5-1 win over Celtic Nation early this season.
However, Quakers were more convincing in the second half.
Joe Tait wasted a great chance, heading well off target when he should have left Stephen Harrison's cross to the better positioned Purewal.
But it proved not to matter as, just when the hosts struggling to get out of their own half, Penrith left-back David Nugent was dismissed on the hour.
Referee Bernard Law flashed a red card after Nugent had brought down Purewal as the striker headed for goal.
From the free-kick that followed, Gary Brown missed a sitter. The ball pinged around Penrith's penalty area before falling nicely to the captain who scuffed horribly wide.
It was soon 2-1 though, with Nicholls notching his first of the night. Played in by the ever-menacing Thompson, Quakers' winger slotted into the bottom corner.
And Nicholls trebled his tally for the season when he blasted home on 71 minutes after Scott had crossed from the right.
At 3-1 up and Gray screaming from the touchline for his team to keep possession, Darlington passed the ball around in opposition territory until an opportunity arose.
Thompson took it, powering the ball into the corner from 20 yards for his first goal for the club.
Having provided six assists and now with a goal to his name, Thompson has quickly become a key player during what's been a fine start to the season for Quakers.
They have won 11 of their 12 league matches and sit top of the Northern League, six points clear of Spennymoor Town.
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