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Darlington 0 - 2 AFC Telford United

Match Date: 23/11/2018
Competition: FA Trophy
Kick Off: 19:45
Attendance: 770

James McQuilkin47
Shane Sutton51
Opposition Own Goals: 0

Team Sheet
Andy Wycherley
Ross White
Stephan Morley
James McQuilkin
Shane Sutton
Theo Streete
Henry Cowans
Jonathan Royle
Amari Morgan-Smith
Daniel Udoh
Darryl Knights

Dominic Smith
Max Bramley
Ellis Deeney ( Replaced Amari Morgan-Smith, 72 mins)
Ryan Barnett ( Replaced Darryl Knights, 88 mins)
Andre Brown ( Replaced Daniel Udoh, 86 mins)

Stephan MorleyR

Referee: Aaron Bannister
Assistant 1: Michael Burrows
Assistant 2: Gareth Thomas
Official 4: n/a

The Bucks made light of a lengthy Friday trip north to Darlington to book their place in the next round of the FA Trophy, defeating league rivals in the process.

Manager Gavin Cowan spoke last week about this tie as being the one he’d wanted when the draw was made. The spur for Cowan was his team’s 3-0 defeat at Blackwell Meadows in September; that had been their first league defeat after seven matches and a poor performance to boot. Wanting his side to go out and right that wrong, Cowan was in ebullient mood afterwards as his side delivered a display that was as controlled as it was comfortable.

With their side unchanged from last weekend’s win at FC United of Manchester, the Bucks and Darlington shared a first half that lacked excitement, but where the Bucks slowly asserted their superiority. However, it was the home side who came closest to opening the scoring; had they done so, it would have been almost a carbon copy of Harvey Saunders’ goal for the Quakers against the Bucks two months ago. With 26 minutes on the clock, Jordan Nicholson latched onto a ball forward that Dave Syers flicked on and as Andy Wycherley raced out Nicholson lifted the ball over the keeper. However, the ball came squarely back off the crossbar and into the arms of a grateful Wycherley.

From that point onwards, the Bucks started to assert themselves. Darlington lacked any fluidity to their play and all that was missing was that moment of incisiveness that would have cut the hosts open. The closest they came was a rising Darryl Knights shot that flashed over the crossbar five minutes before the break, however the Bucks weren’t to be denied for much longer.

Within six minutes of the second half commencing the Bucks were in full control. Their opener came from midfielder James McQuilkin, who was afforded space 30 yards out to shoot low past the right hand of home keeper Zach Hemming. The relatively sparse home crowd were fairly quiet anyway, but four minutes later they were quieter still. The Bucks won a corner on the left-hand side and captain Shane Sutton got his head to the ball to score from six yards out, his third goal in four matches. With only a handful of hardy Bucks fans in attendance, it was largely the Bucks bench that could be heard celebrating as Sutton wheeled away in celebration.

Darlington struggled to respond to that quickfire double strike. Simon Ainge, a defender turned goalscoring machine in his time at Harrogate Town, looked one-paced and was the subject of some disgruntlement from the home fans. Shortly after he directed a header at Wycherley he made way for Harvey Saunders as home boss Tommy Wright shuffled his pack, looking to find an ace.

They were, however, handed a lifeline when Bucks’ left wing-back Steph Morley was sent off in seemingly innocuous circumstances. Morley and home right-back Luke Trotman, one of their few bright performers, went into a challenge on half-way, the ball going out for a throw-in. On the advice of his assistant, referee Aaron Bannister then showed a straight red card to Morley, presumably for something he said.

That could have been the catalyst for a Darlo revival, but the Bucks are currently in such good form that they took the knock in their stride, holding the Quakers at arms’ length. From front to back the visitors showed more desire and more willingness to work than their hosts, with the forwards and midfield relentless in their pursuit of the ball. Wycherley was called into action on only a few occasions, dealing comfortably with what Darlington were able to muster.

The Bucks’ game management did result in Mr Bannister adding seven minutes of injury time, but although that excited the home fans their team were unable to respond, and the Bucks cruised through, to Cowan’s obvious delight.

Darlington: Hemming, Trotman, O’Hanlon (Henshall 66), Elliott, Hughes, Galbraith, Nicholson, Wheatley (Glover 80), Ainge (Saunders 55), Syers, Thompson.

Unused Substitutes: Maddison, Burn.

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