Darlington’s recent signing Sam Muggleton will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a bad injury that tainted their a goalless draw against Southport.

Medical staff were worried about moving the left wing back after he suffered a dreadful leg injury that needed over ten minutes of treatment on the field. There was clearly a high degree of concern when one of the medical staff was seen to be talking on his mobile phone next to the incident.

But eventually they felt assured enough to move him, and after the game was finished, he was taken away in an ambulance.

He had some company alongside him though, because fellow defender Terry Galbraith joined him for the trip to hospital after suffering concussion following a collision with his team-mate, keeper Jonny Maddison.

Taking the loss of two key players into account, a bobbly pitch, a couple of strange refereeing decisions and some over-physical tackles, then a point against a team who beat the league leaders in their previous match wasn’t a bad result for Quakers on a day when their cut price admission offer attracted a 1400 plus crowd.

Manager Tommy Wright said: “The injury to Sam overshadowed the game. I’ve been involved in games in the past when players have suffered leg breaks, and it unsettles everybody.

“The lads do get shocked when they see things at close quarters, like the David Busst one at Old Trafford a few years ago. The game became flat after that, there were half-chances, but I don’t think any team was going to win it.

“I was pleased with the clean sheet, and for our defenders. Southport have been in great form, and they beat the leaders not so long ago. They are a handful, and the goalkeeper has a really long kick on him that causes a few problems at times. “

Darlington defender Liam Hughes played his first game at Blackwell Meadows since his return from a month’s leave of absence and said:” Many teams might have caved under Southport’s pressure, but we stood up to them. We ground out what could be an important point.

“We didn’t create as many chances as we normally do, however, we still created some and, on another day, they might have ended up in the back of the net. But fair play to us, we kept plugging away at it. We have to look at the positives.

“If we beat Brackley, this will look like a massive point against a team that is going well.

“I was always looking forward to my return, the fans gave me a good reception. We must give them something to cheer about when we play Brackley on Wednesday.”

Southport striker Dion Charles had two chances to open the scoring in the opening minutes. He skipped around two challenges and fired wide, and then volleyed off target from a right-wing cross.

But the huge throw of Muggleton was always a threat; he comfortably threw the ball 50 yards into the heart of the Southport area on three occasions, two of which nearly led to a goal.

His long throw from the right was met by Simon Ainge who headed just over, and then another prodigious throw from the left dropped for Romal Palmer, who fired just over the top.

Hughes nearly broke the deadlock with a header from Galbraith’s corner that went just over the top.

But Quakers suffered a setback when Muggleton, who showed there’s more to him than just his long throw, came out second best in a 50-50 tackle with Marcus Wood.

Wright’s response was to bring on Ben O’Hanlon at the start of the second half in a straight swap, but after the hard-working Palmer put a chance wide, he had to make another substitution when Galbraith and Maddison collided when they went for a high ball with two Southport attackers.

Galbraith seemed to be knocked out cold, and he eventually left the field to be replaced by Harvey Saunders, with Ainge dropping into defence.

Despite another reshuffle, Quakers had three chances to win the game.

Ainge went up for a corner and nodded the ball into the six-yard box for Saunders to head wide, then Southport keeper Daniel Hanford just managed to tip a dipping free kick by Palmer over the top.

And near the end, with third substitute Wilson Kneeshaw on the field, Stephen Thompson headed an inswinging corner by Palmer wide.

Southport could have won it as well, and Maddison pulled off a good save near the foot of his post at close range from Gilchrist.

Bookings: Smith, Parry, Platt, Charles

Referee: Aaron Bannister

Attendance: 1,462

Darlington (3-4-2-1): Maddison, Smith, Hughes, Galbraith (Saunders 56); Trotman, Muggleton (O’Hanlon 46), Elliott, Palmer; Thompson, Nicholson (Kneeshaw 75); Ainge. Subs (not used): Wheatley, Hall.

Southport (4-4-2): Hanford, Platt, Parry, Astles, Morgan; Edwards, Green (Homson-Smith 72), Wood, Charles: Gilchrist (Archer 76), Sampson. Subs (not used): Richards, Lacey, Tibbetts