Darlington 2 Bamber Bridge 1

After suffering back-to-back defeats, Darlington were in desperate need of victory to keep up with leaders Salford City, so it was with great relief that they celebrated victory over Bamber Bridge.

First-half goals by midfielders Tom Portas and Leon Scott put Quakers into the driving seat at Heritage Park.

Portas' strike was a fine individual effort. He powered through midfield after collecting the ball close to the dug-outs, holding off his marker and then letting fly with the outside of his right foot from 20 yards.

It was soon 2-0 after another fine goal, this was one owing much to good team play. Quakers retained possession after a corner, displaying patience, before Stephen Thompson passed into the penalty area for Scott to score from close-range with his right foot.

Alistair Waddecarr’s 16th goal of the season gave a lifeline to Brig, who gave a debut to former Preston striker Jon Macken. 

Waddecarr slotted past keeper Peter Jameson after a great Andrew Bell pass to halve the deficit, but in the second period Darlington were largely comfortable, although they wasted a chance to go 3-1 up when Terry Galbraith saw a penalty hit the outside of the post after Matt Lawlor had handled.

In defence, Liam Hatch was outstanding, winning every ball in the air, having come on late in the first half for injured captain Gary Brown, who sustained a groin problem.

Keeper Lee Dovey made a fine save to deny Nathan Cartman, who volleyed at goal after goood work up the left by Galbraith.

Salford won comfortably at Padiham, meaning Quakers still trail the leaders by three points but with two games in hand.

Darlington's goal difference has now been reduced to 14 and is likely to decrease further in the coming weeks due to Salford's run-in, which sees them come up against a number of teams in the bottom half of the table.

Goals: Portas (28, 1-0), Scott (35, 2-0); Waddecar (38, 2-1)

Bookings: Cartman (31, foul); C Thompson (70, foul), Steel (79, foul), McKenna (86, foul), Lawlor (90, foul)

Referee: Terry Fletcher (Washington)

Attendance: 1,050

Darlington (4-4-2): Jameson; A Mitchell, Brown (Hatch 40), Hunter, Watson; Thompson, Portas, Scott, Galbraith; Dowson (Armstrong 60), Cartman. Subs (not used): Bell (gk), Cartwright, Mota

Bamber Bridge (4-4-2): Dovey, Steel, Lawlor, Muscat, Marlow; Thompson (Green 83), Kay (Bell 26), McKenna, Vasey (Pickup 66); Macken, Waddecar. Subs (not used): Reynolds (gk), Alexander