Match report Vs Darlington FCVenue: Blackwell MeadowsDate: 24-02-18Att: 1427 (away fans: 80)

24-02-18 - Report - Darlington FC 2 Harriers 1

Harriers denied a point at the death

Report: Phil Lench

The Harriers lost for the second game running at Darlington today after being denied a point with a minute to go. This was only the second time this season that we have lost two games concurrently since the opening week when we lost to Chorley and Nuneaton in the opening games. We were hoping to get back to winning ways following last Saturdays home defeat to Harrogate but it was never likely as we struggled to create chances in front of goal and when we did we fluffed them.

It was only thanks to Joe Ironside that we managed to score after misses from James McQuilkin and Dan Bradley that could have seen us come away with a better result. In the ninth minute Elton N’Gwatala got round the back and set up George Waring whose shot was parried by the Darlington keeper, Aynsley Pears, to Bradley who then pulled it back for McQuilkin. He thought he had the ball in the net but it had only gone into the side netting.

A minute later and the Quakers had taken the lead when a mistake from loanee keeper Jonathon Flatt allowed Josh Heaton to score from a floated in free kick that Flatt failed to get a hand to in the rush forward.

We could have levelled the scoreline soon after when Pears pushed the ball away from an onrushing Declan Weeks but only as far as Waring but the tall striker could only hit it straight back into the keepers arms. Again we went close just a minute later when N’Gwatala got around the back of the Darlington defenders and played the ball across the goalmouth for McQuilkin and again he sidefooted the ball wide of the target.

Following their goal Darlington were being pinned back by the Harriers but the away side were unable to do anything with the possession they were getting. Just beyond the half hour mark we had possibly our best chance of a goal when Lee Vaughan, of all people, found himself in on goal but again the shot was somehow kept out by the keeper who dived to push the ball around the post for a corner.

We went into the break knowing that we could do better against a side that had been struggling to hold on to their slender lead.

HT: 1 – 0

We came close to repeating the start of the second half with the same mistake as was made at Aggborough last Saturday with the Quakers almost scoring from the whistle. Dave Syers raced into the area leaving all in his wake apart from Ryan Croasdale who managed to get a foot in, and put it out for a corner, as the strike sailed towards the goal. We responded through Dan Bradley but his shot was easily held by Pears.

It was almost two on the hour mark though when Joe Wheatley spotted Flatt off his line and chipped the ball over him. Thankfully James Pearson came rushing in to clear it off the line and we breathed freely once more.

Darlington were getting into the game more and more now and the former Harrier, Reece Styche, came close to getting one up on his old club with a shot that hit the foot of the post. Later on, in the penalty area, he was to drop like a bag of the proverbial but the referee obviously knows him as well as we do and waved play on. 

We finally pulled the goal back ten minutes after a couple of substitutions that saw Manny Sonupè come on for McQuilkin and Joe Ironside on for Waring. Pearson played a free kick into the area and when Ironside raced onto it he could only head it against the post but then he followed up with a tap in that sent the Harriers fans into raptures.

Darlington tried to retake the lead again through Styche when Syers played the ball back to him but he contrived to fall over the ball, thankfully, and the chance was gone. Another sub for us, Andre Brown, should have given us the lead instead but he too managed some contrivation when his shot was blazed over the bar from a few yards out. 

With time now running down we seemed happy to settle for the well earned point but the footballing gods had other thoughts and in the ninety first minute of the game our hearts were broken when hesitancy in clearing the ball out of the area landed the ball at the feet of Stephen Thompson and he returned it, with interest, under the helpless Flatt.

We now drop down to sixth place in the table with a home game next Saturday against the team that went above us today. York City could only manage a home draw against Alfreton Town but they were without the suspended Jon Parkin. He’ll be back for them next week and no doubt he’ll make them stronger for it.

FT: 2 – 1

Goals for Darlington: Heaton 11, Thompson 91

Goal for Harriers: Ironside 77

Talk about the game here and phone the Harriers Hotline on 01905 577 777 after the game too

Latest table and stats here

Darlington FC Goals Subs Time Cards
Saunders   69  
Wheatley   69  
Scott   69  
Gillies   69  
Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
Weeks   68
McQuilkin   59  
Waring   59  
A Brown   68  
Ironside 59  
Sonupè   59  
Mr Dean Hulme
Newcastle on Tyne