Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Northallerton Town 0 Darlington 1883 FC 3

A RECORD crowd of 710 at the RGPS Stadium last night saw Town beaten 3-0 by Darlington 1883 FC, but it was not really about the result for either side.

The proceeds from a record-breaking night will not only help Darlington get back on their feet, after it was agreed to split the gate receipts equally between both clubs, it will also give Town a massive financial boost going into the new season.

On top of that the whole event past off without any hint of trouble. Fans from both clubs mixed happily inside the stadium and, with Ebac Northern League Chairman Mike Amos in attendance, the night was a great advertisment for the league as a whole.

Yet the bad weather very nearly put paid to it before it had even begun. Having already seen the opening two friendlies postponed due to the wet conditions, heavy rain at the back end of last week had put this game in doubt as well.

But thankfully the sun came out on Town in time for the arrival of Martin Gray's new-look side and it helped swell the crowd to 15 more than the previous ground record - set in an FA Trophy tie against Farnborough Town back in 1992.

The hope now is that many of these first time visitors will want to return once the season kicks off in earnest next month.

Both managers selected their strongest available side for the first half, but with the atmosphere reaching fever pitch, there was very little to choose between the sides in the early stages and chances at either end were at a premium.

Darlington rarely looked troubled at the back, with the imposing figure of Gary Brown particularly impressive, but Town had their moments. Colin Anderson, plowing a lone furrow up front, and winger Stuart Hardy, often threatened with their pace and trickery but lacked any support and there was to be no end product.

So it was the visitors who opened the scoring midway through the first half. A free kick from Jamie Clarke was only parried by Town keeper Dale Hobson and Brown, up from the back, reacted quickly to stab home the loose ball from close range.

Town looked for a response but they lacked any real cutting edge and it was the Quakers who finished the half on top. They doubled their lead three minutes before the break when a cross from the left by Shaun Reay was turned home by the unmarked Adam Nichols at the far post.

And it was 3-0 moments later. Referee Tony Peart harshly penalised Ian Smurthwaite for a foul on Darren Richardson right on the edge of the penalty area and Clarke curled the free kick around the wall into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. A little harsh on Town, who had more than matched their more illustrious opponents for much of the opening 45 minutes.

The second half saw numerous changes from both sides and it led to a far more scrappy encounter. Town had the better chances, with Marcus Laing and James Bowman both going close while Carl Chillingsworth's spectacular overhead kick would have brought the house down had it gone in towards the end.

So while it was a disappointing result for Town, there were many positives to take from it. New signing Sam Vernalls and young trailist Damon Reaks showed promise in the second period, while Academy graduates Alex Caisley and Stuart Dunn both caught the eye with impressive performances.

"I thought we contained them well in the first half," said manager Mark Fanning. "I would have been happy to have gone in at half time 1-0 down but we conceded two soft goals and that was that.

I thought we deserved something in the second half as we created the better chances, but Darlo were a strong side and this was a good work out for us."

Next up is another tough test against Pickering Town on Saturday, which is followed by the fans match at 5.15pm and then a BBQ. Not to be missed, I am sure you will agree.


  1. Spot on report, and a fair reflection Ricky

  2. Farnborough game was FA Trophy