DARLINGTON remain unbeaten away from home despite dropping to fifth after drawing at Nuneaton Town when they could easily have lost despite taking the lead.

Mark Beck’s 24th minute goal gave Quakers an advantage their strong start merited, Martin Gray’s men having forced a number of chances against the struggling opposition.

But it was one-way traffic in the second half, third-bottom Nuneaton pinning Darlington back.

The hosts will feel unfortunate to have scored only once, such were the number of their scoring opportunities and possession.

Greg Tempest’s leveller was just reward for Nuneaton, who are one of the few full-time clubs in the National League North but were second best in the early stages.

Quakers made a strong start, forcing a handful of openings. Beck turned wide from ten yards when meeting an Adam Mitchell cross, and Stephen Thompson burst down the left, exchanged passes with Liam Hardy before his shot was tipped wide by keeper Kristian Dibble and from the resulting Mitchell corner Beck headed wide.

Hardy then had a shot cleared off the line after the Nuneaton defence misjudged Jordan Watson’s forward pass, the hosts not seeing Peter Jameson’s goal until almost 20 minutes in.

Elliott Whitehouse poked wide, but he was flagged offside during a bright spell for the hosts.

Thompson wasted a chance when the ball dropped nicely after Beck had challenged for a Liam Marrs free-kick, but Quakers soon took the lead.

They went 1-0 up on 24 minutes, Beck heading home his fourth goal of the season after Watson’s left-wing cross, a deserved lead for Darlington who had done most of the pressing.

On a damp surface, Quakers had kept possession and looked good for a second goal, but they then lost Phil Turnbull to injury and in the closing stages of the half began to invite pressure.

Nuneaton left-back Ben O’Hanlon let fly from 25 yards, the ball sailing over Jameson’s goal.

Nuneaton played plenty of high balls into the area and won a series of corners, leaving Darlington desperate for the half-time whistle.

The head of steam Nuneaton built at the end of the first half continued at the beginning of the second period, however, with Town coming close to scoring on three occasions.

Jordan Keane had a shot blocked, Billy Daniels shot was saved by Jameson and Joe Ironside’s looping header was wide.

Nuneaton were inches away from scoring again with Morgan shooting wide from distance, a chance created on the counter-attack after a needless Thompson pass conceded possession.

Referee Simeon Lucas infuriated both sides inside 60 seconds, ignoring penalty claims, but the hosts’ barrage of attacks continued.

Another Morgan shot was this time beaten away by Jameson, remained on the pitch despite clearly carrying an injury. Marrs had to take his kicks for him.

While Terry Galbraith turned the ball over the Darlington bar from close-range, a Nuneaton equaliser appeared inevitable.

Gray sent on Gary Brown in a midfield role to firm up the middle of the pitch, where the Turnbull was clearly missed, but soon came the goal that had been coming.

Tempest rifled home from a position on the left, receiving the ball in space and making no mistake in beating Jameson.

Having got their equaliser, Nuneaton relented somewhat and Darlington sent on Josh Gillies, the play-maker making an almost instant impression.

He was central to a move that led to Brown’s blast at goal being saved by Dibble.

But on the whole it was a poor second half, Darlington unable to stem the tide of Nuneaton attacks having continually given the ball away and they will need an improvement when they travel to bottom-of-the-table Bradford Park Avenue on Wednesday.

Goals: Beck (0-1, 24); Tempest (1-1, 74)

Bookings: Morgan (dissent, 63)

Referee: Simeon Lucas

Attendance: 655

Nuneaton Town (4-1-2-1-2): Dibble; Clifton, Langmead, Keane, O’Hanlon; Morgan; Daniels, Tempest; Whitehouse (Demkiv 81); Williams, Ironside (McDonald 86). Subs (not used): Penny, Euan Cartright, Warburton

Darlington (4-4-2): Jameson; Marrs, Hunter, Galbraith, Watson; Mitchell (Brown 71), Turnbull (Nowakowski 35), Portas, Thompson (Gillies 78); Hardy, Beck. Subs (not used): Bell, Cartman