SPENNYMOOR TOWN manager Jason Ainsley admitted last night’s 2-0 EvoStik First Division North derby defeat to Darlington was like watching “men against boys”.
Graeme Armstrong’s first half brace consigned Moors to their first defeat of the season, despite a promising start at Padiham on Saturday.
Quakers dominated from start to finish at Brewery Field and Ainsley admitted the defeat is an early wake-up call for his newly-promoted side.
“The best team on the night won without a shadow of a doubt,” Ainsley said. “They looked fitter, fresher and did everything that was asked of them. They had the game won in the first 20 minutes. “Our decision making was awful but I take nothing away from them. I thought they were a very useful outfit, very strong, very powerful and we just didn’t get going.
“It’s a learning curve for us and it just shows you what this league is about. I thought we were excellent on Saturday, but it’s back to earth with a bump.
“The first half was like watching men vs. boys and we’ve all got to take responsibility, but we’ll get stronger as the season goes on.
“We dust ourselves off. It’s the second game of the season and hopefully we can out a better show on for our supporters.”
Quakers showed no signs of a hangover from their opening day fiasco, which saw their home game with Warrington abandoned after 33 minutes because of an injury to the referee.
Martin Gray’s men were 2-0 when they game was stopped and they came out the blocks flying again with Armstrong scoring twice in the opening half hour.
“Obviously we were really disappointed with that happened on Saturday,” Gray said. “I told the players if there’s anything you can take out of the game it was the 33 minutes that we had and I thought we were outstanding from start to finish.
“We dominated the ball and created chances. The score could have been a lot more and I thought the work ethic from the players was fantastic.”
The visitors enjoyed the brighter start and less than a minute after David Dowson’s shot gave Moors warning signs, Quakers took the lead.
Gary Brown collected the ball out on the right and swung the ball in to Armstrong to volley home past Hayes.
Buoyed by the opener, Darlington continued to press 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 saved.
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 dealt with.
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 camped in their own half and it seemed only a matter of time before they would score again.
A second did come in the 27th minute when Armstrong headed in Terry Galbraith’s free-kick for his second.
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 he blasted a close range shot into the side netting.
Ainsley brought on Andrew Stephenson for John McReady at half tme, while the visitors were forced into a change three minutes later 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.
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.
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.
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.
Prices for Darlington’s FA Cup tie against West Auckland next Saturday are £6 for adults and £3 for concessions. The game isn’t all ticket, but tickets are available on Saturday at West Auckland’s home game against Durham.
Goals: 0-1 (Armstrong, 11); 0-2 (Armstrong, 27)
Bookings: Jameson (foul, 18), Mitchell (dissent, 35); Portas (foul, 64); Hatch (unsporting behaviour, 68); Tait (unsporting behaviour, 68); Graydon (unsporting behaviour, 72)
Referee: Marc Edwards
Spennymoor Town: HAYES 7; Groves 5, Tait 5, Johnson 5, Capper 5; McReady 4 (Stephenson, 46), Dodds 6, Graydon 6, Peacock 5 (Lynch, 80); Henderson 6, Roberts 5 (Cogdon, 61).
Not used: Taylor, Mason.
Darlington: Jameson 7; Brown 7, White 8, Hunter 8, Galbraith 7; Dowson 7, Mitchell 8 (Reed, 75), Scott 7, Portas 8, Purewal 7 (Fisher, 48, 7); Armstrong 8 (Hatch, 62).
Not used: Hopson, Bell.
Man-of-the-Match: Graeme Armstrong – Two well-taken goals from Darlington’s new striker.