Darlington 6 Clitheroe 0
Darlington manager Martin Gray dedicated his team’s 6-0 win over Clitheroe to the club’s supporters after they had helped to ensure their game was played today.
Torrential rain at Heritage Park, where Bishop Auckland had a game postponed yesterday, left the pitch unplayable by early this morning.
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But the weather was kind while supporters worked throughout this morning to ensure the pitch passed a 12pm inspection and their efforts proved worthwhile as promotion-chasing Quakers won their seventh game out of eight unbeaten matches.
They were excellent throughout, Stephen Thompson giving them the lead on seven minutes after exchanging passes with David Dowson during a counter-attack.
It was 2-0 with a route-one goal on 18 minutes. Goalkeeper Mark Bell belted the ball up the middle, Amar Purewal flicked it on and Dowson applied the finish before Purewal added the third with a close-range header after meeting Terry Galbraith’s free-kick.
With the pitch holding up well, Quakers' momentum continued and two goals inside three minutes in the second half made it 5-0.
Thompson fired home after man of the match Purewal chased a seemingly lost cause before pulling the ball back from the byline, and Purewal added his second goal when one-on-one.
Nathan Fisher finished the scoring late on, the substitute hooking into the net after meeting a Galbraith cross. There had been a lengthy period of possession beforehand, Darlington playing the ball through midfield and leading to Galbraith taking the ball down the left-wing before delivering the perfect cross.
Gray paid tribute to the club’s supporters, saying: “It was a fantastic performance by the team, but that game was down to the fans because without them we wouldn't have had a game.
"The ref had a look at the pitch at 9am and I begged him to give us until 12pm to get the slurry off the pitch. Our fans, men and women, worked for three or four hours - so that performance is for them."
There was a surprise appearance today by Steven Johnson, who had announced he was leaving Darlington before Christmas. Gray explained he had asked Johnson to ring his boots today due to the shortage of players available to the manager and the striker came on as second-half substitute.
Darlington are at Gateshead in the Durham Challenge Cup on Wednesday, but with more important league games to come Quakers will field a youthful XI.
Goals: Thompson (7, 1-0), Dowson (18, 2-0), Purewal (27, 3-0), Thompson (59, 4-0), Purewal (61, 5-0), Fisher (83, 6-0)
Bookings: Cartwright (34, foul), Dean (58, foul)
Referee: John Matthews (Stockton)
Darlington: Bell; Harrison, White, Hunter, Galbraith; Robinson, Scott, Davis (Hopson 46); Thompson (Fisher 60); Dowson (Johnson 63), Purewal. Subs (not used): Jameson (gk), Mitchell
Clitheroe: Proctor, Wedge, Walker, James, Cartwright, Dent, Lee, Wilkins, Dean, Miller, Garner (Byrom 29). Subs (not used): Freeland, Johnstone, Heap, Parr