Match Report: Darlo Return to Winning Ways ( Simon Hahn)

Darlington 2 v 1 Bamber Bridge

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Darlington overcame Bamber Bridge thanks to goals from midfielders Tom Portas and Leon Scott to earn a crucial victory following two defeats in the last week.

Portas struck a magnificent solo goal mid-way through the first half to give the Quakers the lead.

Scott then doubled the lead firing home after Stephen Thompson had pulled the ball back.

Bamber pulled a goal back before half time thanks to Alistair Waddecar.

Terry Galbraith missed a chance to seal the victory in the second half from the penalty spot, following a hand ball in the box.

Following the defeats at Kendal Town and Farsley, Martin Gray chose to make two changes to his starting line-up. Following his dismissal at Farsley, Alan White was dropped from the squad for the game. Captain Gary Brown moved to centre back, with Adam Mitchell dropping to right-back. Leon Scott and David Dowson came into the starting eleven, with Graeme Armstrong sitting on the bench.

Bamber Bridge gave a debut to ex Manchester City striker Jon Macken.

The Quakers were desperate to return to winning ways and they put in a strong performance from the word go.

However, it was Bamber that had the first near miss when Waddecar struck a brilliant volley just wide of the goal.

Portas has been fantastic all season in the centre of midfield and today saw him score one of the goals of the campaign. He picked the ball up just inside the Bamber half, accelerated through two defenders before hitting an unstoppable drive from 20 yards out with the outside of his right foot.

Not long later the Quakers dominance was shown, as Scott made it 2-0 with his third of the season. Terry Galbraith played Thompson in behind the defence and his pull-back was put away by the midfielder.

Darlington’s defence has until recent weeks been excellent, but it was unlocked just minutes after Scott’s goal.  A simple ball between two defenders saw Waddecar go clear and he finished well to grab his 16th goal in the league this season.

Before half-time Darlington would suffer a set-back with Brown leaving the field due to injury. It was unclear what the injury was, as it had not been caused by a tackle, however, he was unable to carry on and Liam Hatch replaced him in defence.

Nathan Cartman should have made it 3-1, shortly after half –time when he failed to convert a shot from inside the box.

Dowson was replaced by target man Graeme Armstrong and he immediately had an impact, as his flick was handled in the box by a Bamber defender, with the referee pointing to the spot.

Unfortunately for the Quakers the usually reliable Galbraith was unable to convert the penalty, as he saw his effort come back into play off the post.

Cartman then was unlucky as a sharp left footed volley forced Lee Dovey in the away goal into an excellent save.

Tension rose around Heritage Park, as the Quakers ran the clock down, but despite only holding a one goal lead, Jameson in goal was rarely called upon.

A fantastic win, with a much improved performance from the Quakers was exactly what was needed and Darlington fans will feel a lot better about the rest of the season tonight.  Many put in good performances, including Thompson and substitute Hatch. However, Portas was the man of the match by a mile. On three or four occasions he picked up the ball, drove at the Bamber defence and his goal was richly deserved.

Gray was brave today leaving Armstrong and White out, but it paid off, with a performance full of energy, which should have led to a victory by more than one goal.

Elsewhere Salford won heavily, 6-0, at bottom of the table Padiham. Northwich Victoria also won, however, Spennymoor were held to a 0-0 draw by Prescot Cables. The results leave the Quakers still three points behind Salford, but with two games in hand.

Darlington team – Jameson, Mitchell, Brown(Hatch), Hunter, Watson, Thompson, Galbraith, Scott, Portas, Dowson(Armstrong), Cartman. Subs not used – Bell, Mota, Cartwright

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