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Johnson’s emotional farewell is abandoned
Darlington striker Steven Johnson did not get the goodbye he deserved when his benefit game against Sunderland was abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch after just 28 minutes last night.
Referee Neil Sharp was left with no option to call a halt after heavy rain left pools on the pitch and the ball stuck on several occasions.
Nevertheless, Johnson, who scored 15 goals last season, was given an ovation as he headed for the shelter of the dressing rooms.
He was given the man of the match award, even though he never set foot on the pitch, and a framed print from the club.
Johnson was in tears during the post-match presentation and, as revealed in The Northern Echo on Tuesday, confirmed that all money raised from the match was to go back to the club.
He said: "I don't want a penny, the club need it more than I do."
The youthful Sunderland team nearly opened the scoring in the second minute, but former Darlington youth team player David Ferguson to fire high over the top.
GOODBYE: A soaked Steven Johnson says farewell
Sunderland went even closer on five minutes when Duncan Watmore broke through, but Quakers keeper Peter Jameson saved at his feet.
The hosts took the lead after 20 minutes when Bruno Pilatos crossed, John Egan misjudged the ball in the swirling wind and Amar Purewal kept his cool to knock the ball past Joel Dixon.
But after the ball stuck several times in a growing number of puddles, the referee had a brief consultation with Darlington manager Martin Gray and Sunderland boss Kevin Ball, and pointed towards the dressing rooms.
Meanwhile, Stephen Harrison has returned to the club as defensive cover. He played at centre-back last night.
Harrison was a regular last season before leaving in the summer to join Durham City.
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