GRAEME ARMSTRONG scored twice as Darlington beat Spennymoor 2-0 in the EvoStik First Division North derby at Brewery Field.
The striker, signed from Whitby Town in the summer, bagged a first half brace to earn Quakers three points.
The first chance of the game fell to Dowson, who received the ball from Amar Purewal on the edge of the area, but his low drill sailed wide of Kyle Hayes’ far post.
The visitors enjoyed the brighter start and less than a minute after Dowson’s effort had given Moors the warning signs, Quakers took the lead.
Gary Brown collected the ball out on the right and he swung a cross in to Armstrong to volley home past Hayes in front of the visiting supporters.
Buoyed by the opener, Darlington continued to press the hosts and Leon Scott saw a powerful shot comfortably collected by the Moors keeper.
Spennymoor did respond on the quarter-hour mark when Keith Graydon found Liam Henderson with a superb through-ball, but Peter Jameson made the save.
Five minutes after his opener Armstrong could have had a second when he flashed a shot across goal before he provided a neat flick to set up Purewal for a first time shot that Hayes saved.
Jameson was booked in the 18th minute for a foul on Henderson after coming off his line, but Graydon’s resulting free-kick didn’t trouble Quakers’ keeper.
The visitors missed a great chance to double their advantage when Dowson’s cross was cleared into the path of Scott, but even with Hayes on the ground the Darlington midfielder blasted his shot over the bar.
Such was Darlington’s dominance, Moors spent the majority of the opening 45 minutes camped in their own half and it seemed only a matter of time before they would score again.
A second goal did come in the 27th minute when Armstrong headed in Terry Galbraith’s free-kick for his second of the game.
Moors responded almost immediately when Henderson forced a finger-tip save from Jameson, but one minute before the break Armstrong should have had a hat-trick when Galbraith’s corner fell to him six yards out, but the striker blasted his shot against the side netting.
Ainsley made one change at half time, bringing Andrew Stephenson on to replace former Quakers midfielder John McReady, while the visitors were forced into a change three minutes after the restart with Nathan Fisher coming on for the injured Purewal.
And Fisher almost had an immediate impact when he ghosted through the Moors defence only to see his low shot go past the far post.
A mistake by the hosts moments later saw Armstrong go through clear on goal with only Hayes to beat, but the Quakers striker hesitated allowing Moors’ keeper to make the save.
The hosts pushed forward in the second half in the hope of mounting a comeback and Henderson saw his shot from close range saved by Jameson.
Quakers continued to threaten, though, and Adam Mitchell went close with a stunning solo effort that forced a great save from Hayes.
There was a flurry of yellow cards in quick succession with substitute Liam Hatch, Joe Tait and Graydon all going into the referee’s book as tempers flared at Brewey Field.
Fisher almost made it three in the dying moments when he latched on to Hatch’s flick, but Hayes got down to make the save.
Paul Johnson forced a great stop from Jameson in injury time, but Quakers held on for their first three points.
Spennymoor Town: Hayes; Groves, Tait, Johnson, Capper; McReady (Stephenson, 46), Dodds, Graydon, Peacock (Lynch, 80); Henderson, Roberts (Cogdon, 61).
Not used: Taylor, Mason.
Darlington: Jameson; Brown, White, Hunter, Galbraith; Dowson, Mitchell (Reed, 75), Scott, Portas, Purewal (Fisher, 48); Armstrong (Hatch, 62).
Not used: Hopson, Reed, Bell.