Lambs fail to take chances and are made to pay
26 November 2011
The long trip to the BIG (and unfortunately / expectedly only partially full) Northern Echo Arena, home of The Quakers, seven days before the trip up the same road to Gateshead in the FA Cup, brought with it a chance for The Lambs to look at netting six points in the next two matches.
Lambs boss Marcus Law welcomed back Paul Green to the starting eleven, after suspension, and Iyseden Christie started ahead of Kyle Patterson while Danny Mills and Francino Francis took places on the bench. Mills had missed the midweek FA Cup replay with Hinckley for personal reasons, while Francis had given everyone a shock in training after the victory but was thankfully not as injured a everyone had feared and looked relatively untroubled in the pre-match warm-up. Also on the bench was new signing Ibrahim Farah - in on an emergency loan from Cardiff.
Darlo got the game underway, kicking ‘towards' exactly four dozen Lambs fans in the corner of the ground and the home faithful cheered Craig Liddle, manager since the departure of Mark Cooper a few short weeks ago.
After a bright start, the home side won a couple of corners on the right but Tamworth defended them strongly although on 4 a freekick from Brown was headed up and goalwards by Lee, but the chance was off target and didn't threaten Hedge.
Tamworth pushed on but both Habergham and Thomas saw their left wing crosses easily headed away before Christie could get anywhere near them. And likewise when Green sent a long ball down the left wing for the Lambs forward Miller jumped and got his head in the way to prevent an attack down the flanks.
Lee got a defensive header in to deny Christie from Habergham's 10th minute cross and from the corner Shariff headed high over the bar from a central position.
Darlo countered and Brown's deep left wing cross was just too long for his teammates in the box.
On 15 Rundle struck for goal from the left channel and clipped the top of the bar with his driven shot which Hedge may or may not have gotten a finger tip to, and the ball came back down in play but Hatch was unable to get any power on his header under pressure from Lambs defenders on the opposite side as Hedge quickly returned to his six yard box to take up his position.
A good Lambs forward move was let down when the ball went too long and out of play on 20 but is worthy of note following the pass back to keeper Russell by the steward who received a worthy clap of appreciation from the home custodian for his accuracy from distance!
Tamworth won a corner on the right on 27 and had McReady not been in the right place to head Christie's header off the line they would have taken the lead. St. Aimie followed up with a header off his own but the referee spotted an infringement as Russell collected.
St. Aimie went on a dazzling run along the touchline on 38 and squared the ball for Shariff who was steaming into the box but Russell was perfectly placed to deny the opening goal of the afternoon with a point blank save.
St. Aimie then won a corner on the right chasing a ball down into the box but McDonald's corner ultimately came to nothing then on 43 Tait put in a pinpoint ball from the right wing after beating his marker, but a keeper ‘sandwich' halted play when both St. Aimie and Christie jumped for the ball.
One minute added time was shown at the end of a first half in which both sides had good but limited chances to take the lead, but ultimately didn't.
Tamworth restarted the second match and immediately went on the offensive and three minutes in the home side were forced to make a change.
Green was penalised for a pull on Hatch midway into the Lambs half on 50 and Darlo sub Sanchez-Munoz almost connected with the freekick, and then Rundle threaded a ball through the Lambs defence for Hatch but Hedge was quickest out.
In the next move, at the other end Tamworth won a freekick in the left channel about 30 yards out but McDonald could only stand and watch his left footed curling intended pass go into no mansland and out of play.
Shariff was not given a look in by Sanchez as they both chased the ball down the right wing while at the other end a combination of Kanyuka and Habergham prevented a good break by Darlington coming off.
But less than 30 seconds later they took the lead when a fine through ball from Hopson found Rundle and he slipped it past Hedge and into the net. (0-1, 55 mins)
Darlo were now visibly not afraid to put pressure on Hedge and were definitely on top for the next 5 or so minutes, their confidence showing through.
A corner was won on the left on 62 via a deflection off the head of Kanyuka and Bradley cleared his lines at the second attempt but Darlo came back at Tamworth and won another flag kick on the same side on 63 which Hedge palmed away.
Poession was lost though and Chandler found himself in a rare forward position and shot low for goal, forcing Hedge into a timely stop.
In an obvious move to go for goals, Law brought on Mills and Patterson brought fresh legs to the attack past the hour and a corner was won when Patterson's searching cross was headed away. McDonald found Thomas on the far side and he hit a rasping drive on the angle from the left which Russell blocked superbly at his near post.
Farah came on for his debut on 68 and quickly showed some trickery before winning a freekick which Bradley pushed low into the box but the resulting shot from Kanyuka went wide of the mark.
Habergham pulled off a running drag back to beat his man and almost get a shot on target on 74 winning a corner instead which Green headed towards goal but saw Russell clear with his feet. Kanyuka then headed down and over the bar from the resultant flagkick.
Play was halted when Green upended Darlo's Reach 25 yards out on 77 following a good run by the substitute down the middle of the park and Bridge-Wilkinson missed the target by a whisker from the deadball which saw Hedge in full flight to his right.
Reach then made headway down the left and put the ball past Hedge but also across the box and ultimately out of play on the far side in a good opportunity to double the lead.
Hatch and Farah clashed inside the Tamworth half on 80 and handbags ensued once again in a Lambs match as the referee whistle blew repeatedly in a vain to break up the needless fracas. Farah, Bradley Chandler and Hatch were all booked for their efforts.
Patterson got a header away on 85 but it was blocked and Russell collected easily.
Tamworth continued to push forward and a freekick was then awarded on the left corner of the box but it came to nothing and Reach prevent a lambs attack by hoofing the ball out of the ground on 89 which is no mean feat.
At the other end Reach over stretched his cross from the left and the home keeper was rightly awarded MOM for Darlo.
Hatch won a pair of corners as three minutes added time was shown but the Lambs cleared the second and headed down field only to lose possession and allow Russell time to set up a goal kick.
Kanyuka's presence set up a corner on the left and Hedge made his way into the box but missed his header and Hopson bagged his sides second when the ball went past the keeper midway down the field.
Hedge, Tait, Habergham, St. Aimie, Thomas, McDonald (Farah 68), Green, Bradley, Shariff (Mills 64), Christie (Patterson 64), Kanyuka
Substitutes: Francis, Barrow
Yellow Cards: Farah 81, Bradley 82 (Bradley will serve a suspension for five bookings)
Darlington 1883 Team:
Russell, McReady (Reach 72), Miller, Chandler, Hopson, Lee, Arnison, Hatch, Rundle, Bridge-Wilkinson, Brown (Sanchez-Munoz 48)
Substitutes: Bowman, Atkinson, Nixon
Yellow Cards: Chandler 82, Hatch 82
Referee: S. Stockbridge