MANAGER Alun Armstrong ended Darlington’s five-year run of FA Cup defeats at the first time of asking, when his side enjoyed a 3-1 victory at Trafford.

This was the first time that Quakers had won an FA Cup tie since they beat West Auckland in 2014, and the first time since events of 2012 when the club collapsed that they have made the penultimate qualifying round.

Quakers controlled the game and deservedly led at the break, but when Trafford equalised against the run of play, there was a stronger sense of apprehension.

But Adam Campbell’s quickfire reply put Quakers back in control, with Justin Donawa scoring late.

“The result was massively important – for the lads, the club, the supporters – and I told the players before the game that they owed the fans a result. The result was more important than the performance,” said Armstrong.

“I didn’t realise it had been five years since the club had won an FA Cup tie – I found out when I kept getting phone calls and texts about it before the game. I got to the fourth qualifying round with Blyth last season, and an FA Cup win does kickstart your season.

“I was chuffed to bits with the lads overall, even though we didn’t play as well as we did last week against York.

“The lads made hard work of winning the game, but you have to give credit to Trafford because they made it difficult with their 5-4-1 formation. We found it difficult to get through at times, we couldn’t get into the right areas.

“They limited us to half chances. I told the lads during the game that we’d spent loads of time on crosses in training, and they weren’t doing that. We were too easy to defend against. The minute we put a cross in, then we scored.’’

He added: “We were playing far too much in front of Trafford. The possession stats will probably be ridiculous. It did feel like a pre-season game in some ways at times – I want the players to be more greedy and have more shots at goal. We must make it more difficult for the opposition, sometimes we play to their strengths around the box.

“I was fuming when they equalised, because there was so much wrong with it from our point of view. The goal gave our lads the kick up the backside that they needed. I thought they’d gone flat and it was a great response.”

Quakers, with Jordan Watson in place of Louis Laing in defence, started on the front foot.

Adam Campbell then quickly turned on the corner of the box and forced Cooper into another diving save, then the keeper saved an audacious attempt from out wide by Joe Wheatley.

Thompson turned and fired into the side netting after Cooper had made a hash of a punched clearance, and then fired over the top from the edge of the box.

Quakers got the breakthrough on 38 minutes, when right-back Ben Hedley found Campbell on the right, and the centre forward crossed to the far post where Thompson rose to head into the bottom corner for his 98th goal for the club.

The pattern continued in the second half, but Quakers couldn’t score a second. Thompson was involved in the move that set up Campbell on the edge of the box, but his low drive was saved and then Galbraith headed over.

Trafford took advantage to equalise on 65 minutes when the ball came into the box from the right, the defence couldn’t clear, and substitute Darius Palma, who had just come off the bench, volleyed past Chris Elliott.

Quakers needed an immediate response, and between then Thompson and Campbell provided it.

Thompson was tripped 25 yards out, fired the free kick towards goal where Cooper fumbled, and Campbell was on hand to roll the ball home.

Armstrong then introduced Justin Donawa for the last 20 minutes, and he could have had a hat trick. Thompson sent him running through with a great touch, but he was denied by Cooper’s left foot, and then the keeper blocked his next effort after Campbell sent him running clear.

But the Bermudan found the back of the net with his third chance - a neat header across Cooper from a left-wing cross by Omar Holness.

Goals: Thompson (38, 0-1); Palma (65, 1-1); Campbell (67, 1-2); Donawa (88, 1-3)

Booking: Watson

Referee: N Cox

Attendance: 795

Trafford: Cooper, Kenny, Amado, Baird, O’Brien (Schofield 71), Mustapha (Miller 75), Davidson, Rydings, Grimshaw (Palma 61), Salmon. Subs (not used): Palmer, Rooney, Gabidon, Johnson

Darlington: (4-2-3-1) Elliott: Hedley, Watson, Galbraith, Liddle; Wheatley (Bascome 88), Hatfield; Rivers (Donawa 75), Thompson (Holness 80), O’Neill, Campbell. Subs (not used): Bell, Holliday, Morrison, Stansfield