Nicholson scores a gem in exciting Quakers display
Altrincham 3 Darlington 3
Goals: Elliott (8 mins 0-1) Hancock (10 mins 1-1), Saunders (26 mins, 1-2), Nicholson (44 mins, 1-3), Harrop (45 mins 2-3), Hemmings (64 mins, 3-3)
Quakers gave high flying Altrincham a shock at Moss Lane -- but despite some of their best football of the season, couldn't hold on to a 3-1 lead.
Goals from Tom Elliott -- his first for the club -- Harvey Saunders and a goal of the season contender put Quakers 3-1 up in 44 minutes, but they let Altrincham back into the game almost immediately.
But nevertheless, they go into Boxing Day's game against York City in very good heart.
Altrincham forced a corner on the left in the first minute, but it went over everyone in the Darlington area.
In Altrincham’s next attack, Ashley Hemmings found space on the left side of the box, but his cross-cum-shot went well over the top.
Quakers took the lead on 8 minutes. Williams Kokolo won the ball just outside the Darlington box, found Tom Elliott who surged forward, tried to find Harvey Saunders, a defender got a tackle in, but the ball ran for Elliott to pick up, and he ran through and beat Thompson with a left foot shot -- his first goal of the season!
But Altrincham were level on 10 minutes when the ball was chipped into the box from the right, and Josh Hancock glanced the ball into the top corner.
Quakers bounced back, and Nelson hit a low shot from outside the box that Thompson saved on his line, while Hemmings cut in from the right and curled a left footed shot that Maddison saved low down to his right.
Nelson then turned quickly on the left and put in a teasing cross that a defender just managed to head away in front of Saunders.
Quakers had a chance on 23 minutes when Palmer swung a corner over from the left that his Barnsley team mate Smith headed just wide.
Quakers went back in front on 26 minutes. Nicholson and Elliott combined well for Nelson to slot the ball into the six yard box for Saunders to touch past Thompson – his sixth league goal of the season.
There was a delightful move that started with a delightful flick by Nelson for Elliott and Palmer to combine and set up Nicholson, who nearly got away but was tackled in the box.
Quakers nearly got a third on 38 minutes when Palmer pounced on a poor back pass, and as the keeper advanced, slipped the ball past the post.
Quakers went 3-1 up on 44 minutes with a tremendous goal. Palmer ran forward, found Nelson on the edge of the box, and he set up Nicholson who fired into the top of the net from the edge of the box.
But Altrincham got one back on the brink of half time, and Max Harrop scored with a close range header from a left wing cross.
Altrincham 2 Darlington 3
Quakers nearly scored three minutes after the restart when Palmer floated a free kick in from the left for Smith to come running in and head just over the top.
Saunders’ pace caused Altrincham problems, and Thompson came out of his box to try and clear, but miskicked, and Saunders couldn’t take advantage.
Hemming then fired just wide as Quakers defended well, but Saunders broke at the other end and Saunders fired across the face of goal.
Qauakers then made three subs, O'Hanlon, Wollarton and Thompson coming on for Kokolo, Trotman and Nicholson.
But just after Quakers made three subs, Altrincham equalised when the ball came in from the right and Hemmings slid the ball in at the far post.
It was an exciting end to end after that with the game at a fast pace, but no real chances created, until the last minute.
Agonisingly, Saunders chased a long ball downfield, headed it past the keeper, but the ball went inches wide.
And in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Maddison did well to parry a powerful shot from Harrap in the air, and Hemmings reacted first to head the ball into the net, but was flagged for offside -- but an Altrincham winner would have robbed Quakers of a well-deserved point.
Final Altrincham 3 Darlington 3
Thompson, Densmore, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Moult, Johnston, Richman, Hancock, Harrop, Hemmings
Subs: Williams, Mantack, Langley, Sang, Wynne
Maddison, Trotman (sub Wollerton 63), Kokolo (sub O’Hanlon 63), Smith, Burn, Galbraith, Elliott, Palmer, Saunders, Nelson, Nicholson (sub Thompson 63)
Subs: Hall, Henshall,
Booking: Nelson, Kokolo, Elliott, Palmer, Thompson,
Vanarama National League North
Sat, 22nd January, 3pm