DARLINGTON captain Gary Brown will miss the start of the season after sustaining an injury in Saturday’s friendly defeat at Gateshead.
He suffered ankle ligament damage and having undergone an x-ray to ascertain the full extent of the problem has been told he will be out for six to eight weeks.
With Quakers’ first game of the season against Warrington Town at Heritage Park on August 17, manager Martin Gray must plan for the big kick-off without his talismanic captain.
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The injury came when Brown tackled the Heed’s Marcus Maddison in the final moment of the game, a 2- 1 win for the Tynesiders, after which Brown was stretchered back to the changing room and needed crutches to leave the International Stadium.
The incident put a dampener on the day for Darlington, who could otherwise be satisfied with their showing, having acquitted themselves well against opposition from three divisions above.
There was little between the sides for much of the contest and when Gateshead took the lead on 35 minutes, through new signing Richard Brodie, it came against the run of play. He executed a first-time finish after running on to Carl Magnay’s headed through-ball, though Quakers did not feel the goal should have stood as Brown had been floored during the attack due to a head injury.
Brodie’s goal came soon after receiving treatment having fallen awkwardly, and as he briefly left the pitch he made it clear that he felt the newly-laid pitch was to blame.
The match was Gateshead’s first at the International Stadium for seven months, having suffered pitch problems last season which resulted in the club staging “home” matches at venues such as Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Boston, Blyth and Hartlepool.
Darlington equalised just after the break with a goal from nowhere, Amar Purewal curling home from 25 yards to score a fine individual goal, and both the score and balance of play remained level until 15 minutes from time.
A prolonged series of Gateshead passes inside Quakers’ half resulted in Magnay swinging a ball over from the right wing for the unmarked Adam Boyes to head home from eight yards.
Gray was pleased with his team’s display, saying: “We had to work really hard to stay in the game. In the second half we got a good foothold in the game, we had some good possession and scored a good goal.
“It was another 90 minutes under our belt and a really good test against a full-time club. They had a first-team playing, so it gives us a gauge of where we are regarding fitness levels.
“We’re not going to come up against opposition at that level this season, so to hold our own and not be embarrassed is really encouraging.”
The manager was also pleased with the showing of trialist left-back Andy McWilliams, who played the entire 90 minutes. The Teessider counts York City, Stalybridge Celtic and Guiseley among his former clubs.
Gateshead (4-4-2): Bartlett; Baxter (Ramshaw 57), Kitambala (Hogg 46), Clark, O’Brien; Turnbull, Magnay, Walker, Brown (Maddison 57); Brodie (Marwood 57), Boyes. Subs (not used): Nixon, Bosch
Darlington (4-4-2): Bell; Hunter, Brown, J Robinson, McWilliams; Moore (Gott 57), Scott (Davis 52), Galbraith, Purewal; A Johnson (Hedley 69), Dowson. Subs (not used): Mitchell, O’Connor, Scarr, Francis, Lovegreen, Atkinson.