Report: Darlington 3 Moors 2

Moors fell to their first defeat in National League North since the beginning of December as Darlington came from behind to take all three points with a 3-2 victory at Blackwell Meadows.

James Curtis had given Moors the perfect start when he nodded them in front early on but The Quakers roared back to lead 2-1 by the break and added a decisive third just after half time to render Connor Shanks’ late debut goal a mere consolation.

With Lebrun Mbeka drafted in for a debut in place of the injured Michael Ledger, it was Moors who got on the front foot first and began to knock the ball about with confidence in the early stages against The Quakers.

They got their reward for that dominance on nine minutes when Corey McKeown swung a free kick in from the right and it was perfectly met by James Curtis who glanced in his first goal of the season to make it 1-0.

Jason Ainsley’s men took extra belief from taking the lead and they continued to attack a nervy looking Darlington rearguard, with John Lufudu getting some joy down the right.

However, the home side levelled things up with their first attack of note when Kaine Felix kept the ball alive on the right of the area and it was worked across to Jack Lambert and he wriggled into some space and drilled home for 1-1.

It went from bad to worse from Moors as Darlington went in front on 20 minutes. This time Lambert turned provider, whipping in a dangerous cross to the front post which was expertly nodded home by Jacob Hazel.

Lufudu was still a thorn in Darlington’s side when Moors attacked and got into space on a few occasions without finding a decisive cross to open up the host’s defence again.

The lively McKeown intercepted a loose backpass from Jake Lawlor but was forced wide and could not make anything of it, while the youngster then set up Curtis for another header on goal but this time his looping header was collected by keeper Tommy Taylor.

McKeown turned infield with menace to fire a shot on goal which was held by Taylor before the Darlington stopper then went full length to deny Lebrun Mbeka a debut goal after he had powerfully met a McKeown cross.

Moors got off to the worst possible start to the second half though when Darlington were allowed to cut a hole through the middle of the defence for Hazel to prod in his second of the afternoon and provide the home side with a two-goal advantage.

There were some big appeals for a penalty at the other end almost immediately after the restart when Rob Ramshaw took a tumble under pressure as he tried to turn and shoot but the referee was unmoved.

McKeown twisted into space to send a cross into the far post where it was met by Reece Kendall but his header lacked the power to trouble Taylor in the Darlington goal.

By now the home side were sitting deep and inviting pressure but Moors were struggling to find a way through; Lufudu drew a fine save from Taylor after good link-up with Paul Blackett, while Blackett himself also a shot cleared off the line.

Dan Langley had to be alert to deny Kaine Felix as The Quakers responded with an attack of their own but Moors were soon back on the front foot with Glen Taylor coming close with a lofted effort which dropped onto the roof of the net.

The breakthrough finally arrived on 75 minutes. Substitute Connor Shanks came off the bench to fire home with more or less his first touch, profiting from some good hold-up play by Taylor in the box to ram a finish high into the net for 3-2.

A real scramble in the final minute almost presented Moors with a leveller but Darlington were able to hack it clear after a corner into the area had caused chaos six yards from the goal.

Full Time: Darlington 3 Moors 2

Darlington: Taylor, Sukar, Lawlor, Hedley, Moke (Rose 81), Hazel (Williams 84), Liddle (Newell 89), Lambert, Purver, Griffiths, Felix.
Subs not used: Mondal, Martin.

Booked: Ramshaw (30), Curtis (63).

Moors: Langley, Wombwell (Shanks 73), Curtis, Mbeka, Kendall, Lufudu, Ramshaw, Ross, McKeown (Tait 90), Blackett (Anderson 86), Taylor.
Subs not used: Flatters, Wheatley.

Booked: Liddle (46)

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