SO many times Stephen Thompson has come to Darlington’s rescue and he was at it again last night, smashing home a trademark goal to earn the three points against Blyth Spartans.

It was his 97th goal in Quakers colours, edging him closer to Alan Walsh’s club record 100 tally, and it was trademark Thompson: smashed high into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

He has been doing it since he joined Darlington in 2012, so many times being the difference, including in games such as last night when he had not been at his best yet came up trumps in the end.

His team-mates had not excelled either. All that mattered, however, given the standard of opposition and that Darlington had gone three games without a win, was three points.

For a long while it looked like Quakers would be held by Lee Clark’s bottom-of-the-table Blyth, who have yet to win this season and arrived at Blackwell having lost six of their seven matches and scoring only twice.

Yet they took the lead early on before Quakers quickly equalised and thereafter were the better team though could not force a second goal until Stephen’s rocket.

“It was well deserved. It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means, but nobody could argue that we didn’t deserve to win,” said Darlington manager Alun Armstrong, who enjoyed the victory against his former club.

“I thought it was going to be one of those games when it wouldn’t fall for you, and then Thommo manages to smash one in the top bin.

“We started really poorly. The first 15 minutes I didn’t think we were in it, and I didn’t think Blyth were, it was a horrible game.

“We gifted them a goal and we were wide open. I was fuming with them, but it was such a good response, that was a pleading thing for me and I don’t think anyone could argue with the result after that.”

Last week Bradford Park Avenue recorded their first win of the season at Blackwell Meadows, so it was no surprise to cynical supporters among Darlington’s fans that their went 1-0 down to Blyth.

It came after just 11 minutes, Spartans having started the contest better with goalkeeper Chris Elliott having to save from Scott Fenwick, before new signing Callum Roberts made it 1-0.

The former Newcastle United youngster ran on to a precise through-ball by Lewis Hawkins, catching Darlington’s defence flat-footed, and then passing the ball beyond Elliott for Spartans’ third goal of the season, but the lead did not last long.

It took two minutes for Darlington to respond, Adam Campbell with a calm finish.

It was his fourth goal of the season and came after Quakers put together a series of passes involving David Atkinson and Jarrett Rivers with Thompson laying it off for the leading scorer to roll the ball home.

The goal was a relief, Quakers’ first from open play in four matches, and it eliminated any groans from the terraces, but soon came more bad news when Atkinson went down injured.

He was one of six players Armstrong brought with him from Blyth, but only four started due to Jamie Holmes and Michael Liddle being injured, which has been the story of their season so far, which is why Armstrong has signed Ben Hedley.

He put pen to paper yesterday after leaving Bradford Park Avenue, but not in time to make his debut last night.

Atkinson’s exit led to substitute Omar Holness, a midfielder, filling in at right-back.

The culminative effect of injuries and international duty – Osagi Bascome and Justin Donawa are away with Bermuda - restricted Armstrong’s options last night, but Terry Galbraith started following a fitness test, while Joe Wheatley made his first start of the season.

Armstrong’s side, once they had equalised, enjoyed the bulk of possession without adding another goal before the break, forcing chances but unable to take any of them.

O’Neill had a half volley go wide after Thompson had chested the ball invitingly into his path, and Darlington twice went close to going ahead when Blyth goalkeeper Mark Foden saved from Holness, and from the resulting corner Galbraith had a header cleared off the line.

Thompson had a shot deflected over and O’Neill fired an effort into Foden’s midriff after Will Hatfield’s pass in the latter stages of the first half, and Darlington continued where they left off at the beginning of the second 45.

After good work out wide by Campbell to pressure a Blyth defender into conceding possession, O’Neill guided an effort narrowly wide from a central position 18 yards from goal

After being released by Robbie Dale, who had intercepted Galbraith’s sloppy cross-field pass, Adam Wrightson got to the byline and fired in a low ball that took a deflection and went narrowly wide for a Spartans corner, but that was a rare foray for Clark’s men.

For the most part the Blyth defence scrambled the ball away from their goal, or Darlington wasted chances, until Thompson stepped up to the plate on 75 minutes.

After a Wheatley back-heel on the edge of the Blyth box had been intercepted, Campbell teed up Thompson who hit the ball cleanly as ever high into the net for goal 97.

David Currie, a Darlington hero in the late 1980s and guest of honour last night, would have been proud to score such a goal.

Goal 98 could have soon followed, but from a similar position this time Thompson put the ball into the River Skerne behind the Tin Shed.