Darlington 1 Blyth Spartans 1
Scorers: Maguire (5 mins, 0-1), Styche (41 mins, 1-1)
Match sponsored by Glenwoods Paints
Quakers were wondering how they managed to only draw their north east derby against Blyth Spartans.
We had two goals disallowed, hit the woodwork twice, and missed several good chances, especially in a one-sided second half.
Quakers had a penalty shout turned down when Reece Styche played the ball inside to Tom Elliott and he went down when he was challenged just inside the box,.
But Blyth went in front on 5 minutes, a ball was played straight up the middle for Danny Maguire to latch on to, and he beat Jonny Maddison with a left foot shot from the edge of the box that went in off the right hand post.
Maguire then slipped away from a challenge in the box and got to the bye line where he pulled the ball back, but the ball bounced off a team mate for a goal kick.
Blyth nearly got a second on 12 minutes when Winter picked out Jarret Rivers with a ball to the far post, but Rivers headed straight at Maddison.
Quakers hit back with good interplay between Stephen Thompson and Joe Wheatley on the right, which ended with Thompson chipping a ball to the far post where Blyth just managed to get the ball away.
Luke Trotman then put a great cross in from the right, aimed for Ainge who was steaming in at the far post, that Peter Jameson in the Blyth goal just managed to fingertip away.
Quakers then had two corners in quick succession, the second of which ended with a header by Dom Collins that was saved by Jameson.
Thompson then nearly equalised in a moment of sheer brilliance on 24 minutes. Standing just inside the Blyth half, he spotted Jameson off his line and hit the ball over the keeper’s head, but unfortunately and agonisingly off the crossbar, and Styche, following up, couldn’t turn the ball home.
Quakers thought they’d levelled on 25 minutes, when Alex Henshall’s low shot was parried by Jameson straight to Styche who tapped in, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
But Blyth replied with a low shot by Jamie Holmes that brushed the side netting.
Quakers nearly levelled on 33 minutes when Trotman threaded the ball through for Styche who turned well, ran into the box, but Jameson blocked his right foot shot.
Quakers levelled on 41 minutes when Collins’ chip forward was flicked on by Ainge to Styche, who ran through and slotted the ball past Jameson for his fifth goal of the season.
Quakers nearly took the lead on 45 minutes, when Galbraith found Thompson with a great diagonal ball, he beat two defenders and struck a left foot shot just wide of the right hand post.
The game had turned out as expected — a real thriller with the crowd getting behind both teams.
Half time 1-1
Blyth made a sub on the restart, Wrightson coming on for Rivers.
Quakers nearly took the lead straight from the restart, when Styche laid the ball off to his right for Thompson to hit a right footed piledriver that Jameson held on to.
Thompson went close again on 51 minutes. He ran from the half way line and played the ball out to Styche, who returned it back into the middle for him to strike a right foot shot that went just over the top from twelve yards out.
Blyth tried their luck with a low shot by Holmes from out on the left that Maddison saved low down.
Quakers were again denied by the woodwork on 59 minutes when Styche turned 25 yards out, ran forward and hit a right foot shot that beat Jameson but came back off the foot of the left hand post.
Jameson again pulled off a good save a minute later, this time going down to his left to hold a shot by Thompson. It was all Quakers at this point.
Quakers had a goal disallowed on 68 minutes when Elliott tried to shoot from the edge of the box, the ball was going well wide until it deflected off Styche and went in, but the ref disallowed it, presumably for handball, although he didn’t book the Darlington striker.
Quakers had their best chance of the half on 70 minutes when Styche nodded down a right wing cross by Trotman for Elliott, ten yards out, but his shot was blocked.
Agonisingly, Quakers went close again on 74 minutes. Thompson charged into the box on the right, and fired powerfully across the face of goal, inches wide of the far post.
Quakers made a sub on 75 minutes, Henshall coming off for David Syers.
And another chance came along on 77 minutes, Thompson crossed perfectly for Ainge, but he headed straight at Jameson, then Thompson broke again and forced Jameson into a good save.
Sub David Syers then picked the ball up from Styche 30 yards out and drove a right foot shot wide.
But Blyth nearly won it when Wrightson skipped in from the right, and with the goal at his mercy, pulled his shot wide of the right hand post.
Quakers will look back and wonder how they didn’t win the game after dominating most of it.
Full time 1-1.
Darlington: Maddison, Trotman, Collins, Burn, Galbraith, Henshall (sub Syers 75), Wheatley, Elliott, Thompson; Styche, Ainge
Subs: O’Hanlon, Nicholson, Hughes, Saunders
Blyth: Jameson, Nicholson, Watson, Green, Buddle, Cunningham, Rivers (sub Wrightson 46), Reid, Maguire (sub Ardelean 82), Holmes (sub Horner 73), Oliver
Subs: Skirpan, Butler
Bookings: Watson, Holmes, Wrightson, Green