A first hat-trick of his career for Marc

The Northern Echo: ON THE SPOT: Marc Bridge-Wilkinson tucks home a penalty to complete his hat-trick ON THE SPOT: Marc Bridge-Wilkinson tucks home a penalty to complete his hat-trick

Darlington's Marc Bridge-Wilkinson left The Northern Echo Arena clutching the matchball after scoring the first hat-trick of his career in Saturday's demolition of Eastbourne Borough.

All three of his goals came in the first half of the 6-1 win thanks to a free-kick and two penalties, both of which were planted in almost exactly the same spot.

The Quakers ace said he had no doubts about where to plant the second spot-kick which Eastbourne keeper Tommy Forecast came close to saving, but not enough to stop the former Carlisle playmaker from making it 3-0.

"I didn't really think about changing sides," he said. "I don't really have a spot that I go for, I tend to decide the night before the game what I'm going to do if we get a penalty.

"The keeper got fingertips to it, he clipped it, but it was close enough to the corner so it was okay.

"I've taken penalties throughout my career, though for the last couple of years at Carlisle I didn't play as much but when I was in the team there was Ian Harte there so sometimes you've got to accept that someone else is going to take it."

Bridge-Wilkinson, who joined on a permanent basis in January from Carlisle, added: "That's my first hat-trick in a first team game. I did it a couple of times in the reserves when I was younger, but that was my first official hat-trick.

"I came close to scoring one on my debut at Port Vale. I scored two and then hit the crossbar."

The 6-1 win was Quakers' biggest at the Arena while they were 5-0 ahead at the break.

Although Darlington remain 13th in the table the manner of victory suggested that a play-off charge is not beyond Quakers.

Bridge-Wilkinson added: "I haven't played in anything like that first half for a while, it was excellent. The most impressive part of the day is that it was a fantastic team performance from start to finish.

"The goal we conceded at the end was the only downside on the day. We looked quite solid, we passed the ball well, we created chances, scored a lot of goals and looked comfortable.

"When we keep possession like we did we can make teams work hard and we can do that well.

"When we stop doing that and go a bit direct we seem to struggle a little bit, but today was passed the ball from start to finish and that showed in the performance.

"Those sorts of games are far better for myself. In some games, like Tamworth away on a muddy pitch when the ball is generally up in there, it can be a bit difficult. Today, on a better pitch, we were passing the ball around and it was great to be involved.

"I can't see why we can't play like that more often. The ability is there in the team and in the squad because the squad we've got here now is fantastic. Whichever XI goes out on the pitch, everyone knows their job.

"We can realistically strive to achieve that kind of performance on a regular basis and if do that we're going to win more games than we lose."

Darlington winger Josh Gray has joined Blyth Spartans on loan for a month and he made his debut in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Eastwood Town.

Ex-Darlington defender Alan White also made his Blyth bow after being released last week by Gateshead.

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