STEPHEN THOMPSON scored his 90th goal for the club to give a disciplined Darlington side the points at Blyth Spartans.

Quakers perhaps didn’t have the composure or discipline earlier on in the season to hold on to leads, but they had those qualities in abundance as they snuffed out Blyth and gained some measure of consolation for the one-sided 1-1 draw at Blackwell Meadows earlier in the season.

And there was also a hero’s welcome back for central defender Liam Hughes, who returned from his month’s leave of absence with a towering display as one of three centre-backs with Terry Galbraith and Will Smith, and was given a thoroughly deserved ovation from the from the 400 or so travelling fans.

Manager Tommy Wright said: “Thommo has been Mr Reliable for years and years at this club. He’s taken plenty of penalties in that time, and he strikes them nice and clean. He was confident of taking that one, he put it away nicely, and that helped him edge closer to the record.

“I didn’t think Liam would let me down. Alan White (assistant manager) and I have spoken to him constantly while he’s been away for the four weeks. I know where his head’s at. Importantly he’s getting better, and he’ll now be a better person himself. He’s now back on it, everyone was delighted for him, and the lads felt rejuvenated that he was back in the team.

“Overall, it was a great team performance, I was delighted that the lads hung in there.

“We spoke before the game about putting teams to bed and to put points on the board, and I thought the lads defended really well when they had to."

There was a measure of how strong the wind was in the first minute, when a free-kick by Romal Palmer into the wind was blown into the hands of former Darlington goalkeeper Jameson, but then a long throw by debutant Sam Muggleton caused panic on the six-yard line, and Simon Ainge had a shot turned over by Jameson.

Left wing-back Muggleton showed that he has more than just a long throw in his armoury.

Wright said: “Sam had to defend really well at times because he was up against a really fast right winger. His throw-ins cause chaos, and it was a solid debut by him."

Jonny Maddison pulled off saves low down at the other end from Adam Wrightson and Dan Maguire, before Quakers started to take control.

Jordan Nicholson, who was always a threat with his diagonal runs, cut in from the right and hit a low shot that Jameson just managed to push around the post, before Darlington took the lead in the 34th minute.

Referee Andrew Kitchen ruled that Nicholson had been pushed to the ground inside the penalty box and Thompson, closing in on his 300th Darlington appearance, confidently sent his old team-mate the wrong way.

Thompson also scored from the spot against Blyth last season, is now ten away from Alan Walsh’s record.

He said: “I was a bit nervous about the penalty, but it went in. It was a big, big win and the lads really grafted for it and we deserved it.

“I don’t normally take penalties against keepers I’ve played with. Last year I scored against Pete and I wondered if he was going to go the same way. I stuck to what I know, and thankfully it went in.

In the second half Quakers concentrated on stifling Blyth’s danger men, with centre forward Dan Maguire just seeing one chance, a diving header from a left wing cross that he put wide.

Blyth had more of the play, but Quakers defended their penalty area well. They didn’t make any ill- timed lunges or sliding tackles as they did to their cost earlier in the season, and the only time the referee had to make any sort of decision regarding a challenge in the penalty area, was to wave play on when Terry Galbraith went shoulder-to-shoulder with Brad Fewster.

Wright added: “Blyth as a team work the ball really, really well. Dan Maguire and Robbie Dale are real danger men, and it’s difficult for lads to know when to, or not to, commit in the penalty area. Our full backs managed them pretty well, and the whole back five and keeper Jonny Maddison played really well.

“The result gives the lads something to build on now."

Goal: Thompson pen (34, 0-1)

Bookings: Galbraith, Hughes, Elliott, Thompson

Referee: A Kitchen

Attendance: 1,579

Blyth Spartans (4-4-2): Jameson, Nicholson, Laing, Watson, Liddle (Buddle 66); Green (Fewster 72), Wrightson (Holmes 62), Oliver, Dale; Maguire, Reid. Subs (not used): Mullen, Horner

Darlington (3-41-2): Maddison; Smith, Hughes, Galbraith; Trotman, Elliott, Palmer, Muggleton (O’Hanlon 90); Nicholson (Saunders 75); Ainge, Thompson (Wheatley 75). Subs (not used): Henshall, Kneeshaw