Defender Gary Brown bagged two goals, but Darlington were held to a 2-2 draw at Burscough today.
But after Nathan Fisher had wasted a chance to make it 3-1, Burscough’s Liam Caddick nabbed an equaliser after a free-kick, meaning Darlington had to settle for a point at a venue where they won 7-0 last season.
Stephen Thompson scored a hat-trick that day, but he was only on the bench today after returning from suspension with manager Martin Gray putting Fisher in the starting line-up in place of the injured Amar Purewal.
Purewal sustained an injury during the win over Spenny, when Gray’s men were deserved winners and they started today’s match on top too, pinning back the hosts who defended in numbers and attempted to attack on the counter.
For the first half-hour Quakers saw plenty of the ball and much of the game was played in the Linnets’ half, however, they could not turn their possession into goals and Burscough began to find space, eventually scoring through Danny Dunleavy.
The right-sided midfielder steered the ball past Peter Jameson from the edge of the area from a central position, though Quakers felt centre-back Chris Hunter was fouled in the build-up.
They did not have to wait long to regain parity though, with Brown connecting with a glancing header at a free-kick, taken by Adam Mitchell, after Graeme Armstrong had been fouled.
Though in bright sunshine, Quakers were against a moderate wind during a scrappy and tight second half in which both teams were often unable to keep ball for a period likely to hurt the opposition.
Passes went astray and Darlington were guilty of being anxious to play the telling pass too early rather than maintain possession, with too many long passes littering their play while Armstrong had little service.
It was Armstrong, however, who singlehandedly, created Quakers’ second goal, winning possession near the corner flag and holding off a challenge before pulling the ball back for Brown to stab home.
At 2-1 up and, presumably, with Monday’s game at home to Kendal Town in mind, Gray made three substitutions which saw Leon Scott, David Dowson and Armstrong replaced by Jordan Robinson, Thompson and Liam Hatch.
Aside from Fisher’s miss, after being played in following a defence-splitting pass by Thompson, Quakers looked the most likely to score and Brown had an effort cleared off the line while Hatch saw a close-range overhead kick hit the crossbar.
But Caddick got the goal which Burscough will feel they deserved, scoring from close-range after a executing crafty free-kick clearly worked on in training.
Quakers’ next match is at Heritage Park on Monday against Kendal Town (3pm).
Darlington (4-3-3): Jameson; Brown, White, Hunter, Galbraith; Portas, Scott (Robinson), A Mitchell; Dowson (Thompson), Armstrong (Hatch), Fisher. Subs (not used): Bell (gk), Walker