Match report Vs Darlington FCVenue: AggboroughDate: 11-11-17Att: 1879 (away fans: 186)

11-11-17 - Report - Harriers 3 Darlington FC 3

Careless Harriers throw another victory away

Report: Phil Lench

For the fourth time this season the Harriers threw away maximum points after leading the game easily. It happened against Boston Utd and Curzon Ashton earlier in the season so we bought in a tough and experienced defender to stop that happening and now in our last two home games we have gone and done it again. Previous to today it was a last minute equaliser for Spennymoor after we were cruising at 2-1 up but today was even worse with a 3-1 lead given away following poor substitutions and an unforgivable red card.

Tonight we could be sat in an healthy looking eighth place in the table but instead we stay marooned in twelfth and a tough game coming up at York City next weekend.

There were two changes to the line-up that started at AFC Fylde last Saturday with Andre Brown and Declan Weeks taking over from Andre Wright and Manny Sonupè. It had been discussed during the week whether Elton N’Gwatala would have been dropped to make way for Weeks so we never saw the Weeks for Sonupè scenario taking place. Both of the disposed players went to the bench.

Darlington arrived at Aggborough with a miserable season trailing in their wake. Only one win away from home all season and three draws had seen the manager and players leaving the club in recent weeks so we couldn’t have hoped to meet them at a better time.

The game started off scrappily but slowly we began to take hold of proceedings. The Quakers had come close to scoring in the early stages when Stephen Thompson had tested Brandon Hall with a shot that the Harriers keeper saved easily then a header came in that was defended away. We responded with a greedy attempt from N’Gwatala that went into the side netting with both Weeks and Joe Ironside well placed to slot the ball home if he had only given them the chance.

A few minutes later and we had taken the lead. A great cross was played in by James Pearson to Brown and, with a deft turn, he curved the ball around the Darlington keeper to warrant his place in the starting eleven. It could have been two but again Elton was being a little slack and placed his shot the wrong side of the post when it would have been easier to score. 

The visitors tried to get back into the game with chances falling the way of the aggravating Gary Brown twice (who shouldn’t have been on the pitch after elbowing Andre Brown in the face) and then Terry Galbraith fired the ball across the face of the goal just narrowly missing the far post. 

With that minor scare over with we increased our lead further. This time Elton redeemed himself and played a lovely ball in for James McQuilkin to sidefoot the ball goalwards. At first the visiting keeper seemed to have stopped the ball but it squirmed away from him and spun gently over the line.

It could have been three goals to the good almost straight away but when Joe Ironside was gifted the ball from a superb Andre Brown cutback he dithered instead of shooting first time and the chance was snuffed out by an alert defender.

On the stroke of halftime we gave away a stupid goal when Joel Taylor stopped a ball played in by a Quaker man and attempted to pass the ball back to Hall but the keeper was caught flat footed and the ball went straight into the net.

HT: 2 – 1

During the break Taylor came out with a Physio to do some exercises then trooped off again. With the re-start he stayed behind while Tyrone Williams came on in his place.

We began this half on fire but it took a shocking tackle on N’Gwatala to really raise our game. He was scythed down on the touchline in a two footed tackle that should have seen the Darlington man sent off but the pathetic referee ignored it and waved play on. With his ire enraged Elton began to play in the way that we saw week in, week out last season and every time he got the ball at his feet he looked to create something positive with it.

It paid off when he collected a loose ball in a central position on the edge of the box and then turned to go past a defender and send in a superb shot past Ed Wilczynski in the Quakers goal. He began to torment the Darlington defence at every opportunity he could find and created so many chances that ended up being wasted by others that we could have doubled our tally easily. Our best chance fell for Fraser Horsfall when he got the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. 

Then in a move typical of the Harriers manager, John Eustace, he took N’Gwatala off and put Sam Austin on. We went to pieces.

All that creative build up was gone and along with it our chances to score. Instead Darlington began to fight back and it culminated in a second goal for the visitors when Dominic Collins lofted the ball back into area for Terry Galbraith to head home. Then came the sending off.

Tyrone Williams shepherded a ball out of play at our end but then the Darlington number nine came steaming in and pushed Ty over. The young defender reacted and pushed Harvey Saunders back knowing that Saunders would start to cry over it and plead innocence and that’s just what happened. The ref consulted his assistants and sent Williams off but only gave the original miscreant a yellow card. I would expect the club to appeal based on the video evidence seen since.

You just knew the Gods were against us and we, the fans, knew what was going to come.

With two minutes of normal time left Darlington drew level from a poorly defended Josh Gillies corner that another earlier substitute, Dave Syers, rose highest to and powered the ball home. In the dying seconds of the five added on  minutes everyone in the ground thought that Saunders should have been sent off after he floored Andre Brown from behind while in full flight on goal but instead Mr Incompetent booked a different player for kicking the ball away.

So yet again we failed to win at home after being so commandingly in front. It’s high time John Eustace’s ‘young team’ grew up and grew some balls.

FT: 3 – 3

Goals for Harriers: A Brown 15, McQuilkin 37, N’Gwatala 53

Goals for Darlington: Taylor 45 (og), Galbraith 78, Syers 88

The Harriers Online MotM is: Declan Weeks

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Latest table and stats here

Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
Taylor (og) 46  
N’Gwatala 78  
A Brown      
Austin   78  
Williams   46
Darlington FC Goals Subs Time Cards
G Brown      
Portas   60  
Cartman   74  
Thompson   60  
Syers 74  
Gillies   60  
Caton   60  
Mr Martyn Rawcliffe