Monday, 26 August 2013

Macc-attack as Danny wins Town the A167 derby

By Ricky Butler at Brinkburn Road

Highlights of this match are available here

A FINE second half winner from Danny McLachlan saw Town come from behind to beat struggling Darlington RA in the late summer sunshine at Brinkburn Road on Bank Holiday Monday.

After a slow start in which former Town man Steve Butterworth had given the RA an early lead, Peter Mulcaster's side fought back with a first half penalty from Jamie Clarke and a second half strike from McLachlan to make it a happy trip back down the A167.

"It was hard work," said Mulcaster at the whistle. "We did not compete as we should have in the first half and did not get the ball down and play.

"But we were far, far better in the second half and had it ended up 5 or 6-1 they could not have complained."

It was a Town side unchanged from Saturday's 6-0 demolition of Esh Winning, but you would not have known it from the opening twenty minutes.

The hosts, with three defeats from their opening four matches, were given the perfect start when Lee Farrington whipped in a great ball from the left and Butterworth was on hand to divert it past goalkeeper Alex Kell from 6 yards.

Butterworth, who only left Town this summer, looked like a man with a point to prove and he was only denied a second by a fine save from Kell two minutes later. Meanwhile, another former Town man, Andy Ramsbottom, fired into the side netting after breaking forward from right back.

But Town slowly began to get in the game and it was RA old-boy Dale Elgie who nearly conjured an equaliser midway through the half with a dipping volley from fully 35 yards which RA goalkeeper Matthew Calvert did well to tip over the top.

However, Town were level six minutes before half time thanks to a touch of good fortune. Darren Kokes clipped the ball into the area where it struck the arm of Ramsbottom and referee Chris Knightley pointed to the spot.

It did seem a harsh decision as it was clearly a case of ball-to-hand but Town were not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and Clarke smashed the kick past Calvert to make it 1-1 the break.

Mulcaster made a slight adjustment during the interval, replacing Andrew Porritt at left back with Ian Smurthwaite, and Town played with far more tempo in the second half.

They nearly went in front eight minutes after the restart when Kokes was denied by Calvert, but Town completed the turn around less than a minute later.

Clarke put in a great delivery from the left, Kokes flicked it on at the near post and McLachlan arrived to drill the ball into the roof of the net from close range - his 3rd goal in two matches and 4th of the season.

It was now just a case of how many Town would score. Sean Davies, once again impressive at the back, was denied by a desperate goal-line clearance from RA player-manager Nick Harrison on the hour, while Kokes shot narrowly wide after turning well inside the area five minutes later.

Substitute Christian Holliday, who had replaced the injured and for once ineffective, Jason Brazauskas, twice broke through but could not beat Calvert, before Kokes rounded the RA 'keeper only to see substitute Stephen Cheeseman get back to make another goal-line clearance.

Then, with less than 10 minutes remaining, it should have been all over. Grant Hickman flicked on a corner from Gav Parkin but with the goal at his mercy, the normally lethal Clarke somehow placed the ball over the top from 2 yards out.

"It hit my shin," said Clarke. "But that is no excuse. I have got to be scoring from there."

That looked like being a crucial miss as the hosts finished strongly, forcing a succession of late corners, but the nearest they came to an equaliser was an effort from Anthony Abel through a crowded area which was cleared away by Smurthwaite.

In fact the best of the late chances fell to Town defender Steve Banks. In a rare foray forward from right back, Banks found himself in the centre-forward position after a lovely reverse pass from Clarke, but the ball took a bobble at the crucial moment and he fired over the bar and out of the ground.

"You have to grind results out sometimes and we had to do that today," said Mulcaster. "But a win is a win and we now move on to Esh Winning on Saturday.

"We've got a strong squad and hopefully we can keep the squad together. It is whether or not some are happy to sit on the bench and wait for their chance. We'll see. But today I am happy."

Defender Davies, who won the Division Two title last season with Crook, can see similarities with this group of players. He said: "It was only a matter of time before we started winning games. This squad is possibly a little bit better (than the one I played with at Crook) so hopefully we can be there or thereabouts come the end of the season."

If they can continue playing as they did in the second half here, you would not bet against it.

DARLINGTON RA - Calvert, Ramsbottom, Muir, Whensley, Harrison, Howlett, Hanratty, Webster, Abel, Butterworth, Farrington. Subs - Grainger, England, Simpson, Cheeseman, Morton.

TOWN- Kell, Banks, Porritt, Hickman, Davies, Parkin, McLachlan, Elgie, Clarke, Kokes, Brazauskas. Subs - Caygill, Smurthwaite, Holliday, Anderson, Colman.

REFEREE - C. Knightley.


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