TWO late goals saw Spennymoor Town start 2020 with a 3-1 win over Darlington, recording swift revenge for their Boxing Day defeat to Quakers.

Alun Armstrong’s side were left to rue various missed scoring opportunities, particularly when the score was 1-1, but despite a first ever defeat at the Brewery Field they will still be pleased with their haul of nine points from 12 over Christmas.

Darlington are now tenth while Spennymoor will be relieved to have won after suffering back-to-back losses last week – they also lost to Gateshead.

James Roberts made it 1-0 in the first half, making the most of indecisive Darlington defending after a punt down the slope by goalkeeper Matthew Gould, the winger rounding goalkeeper Chris Elliott to tap into the net.

And after sustained second-half pressure got their winning goals in the 85th and 89th minutes through Ben McKenna and Adam Boyes.

Manager Jason Ainsley said: “It was an unbelievable game for both sides. If you went there as a neutral, it was everything a derby should be. There were teams going forward and looking to score. Both keepers had a great game, Gouldy pulled us out of the mire a couple of times.

“I thought in the second half we were excellent and dominant. We could have felt sorry for ourselves. I thought we did well in the first half and their three lads were up front were always a threat, looked really sharp and caused us problems.

“We got to grips with them in the second half, and up the hill we were in the ascendancy.

“We had countless chances to go 2-1 up, but Gouldy pulled a wonder save off again. They caused us all sorts of trouble going forward, but we scored at the right times.”

However, Moors may not have heard the last of this game.

While they won on the pitch after a dominant second half to move up to sixth, off it questionable organisation led to the match being delayed as a perimeter fence gave way.

The incident meant the start of the second half was delayed with Armstrong and Quakers chief executive David Johnston both running across the pitch in an attempt to help resolve the situation.

Spennymoor, however, showed much better organisation on the pitch, particularly in the second half when it was one-way traffic and seemingly only a matter time before they went ahead again.

Roberts’ goal on 18 minutes had failed to spark the game into life, there was little of the blood and thunder witnessed in the past encounters between these sides, and as a consequence the atmosphere was lacking and the match passive in its nature.

But Darlington finished the first half strongly. A Stephen Thompson blast was deflected over by Stephen Brogan, Gould pushed a Joe Wheatley drive onto the top of the crossbar, while he also saved from Sean Reid as Quakers looked to build on Justin Donawa’s 38th minute equaliser.

Fine play down Darlington’s right, a series of short passes, led to Thompson crossing for Donawa who leapt to connect with a powerful header for his eighth goal of the season.

The delay at half-time adversely affected Darlington, Armstrong’s team had ended the first 45 minutes on top but it was a different story after the break, which had a much higher tempo.

Donawa wasted a chance, shooting straight at Gould, but that was a rare Quakers attack with Armstrong’s men under intense pressure and Glen Taylor came close to goal on numerous occasions, notably when a bullet header was caught by Elliott.

Rob Ramshaw crossed from the byline to the unmarked Taylor, who lifted his shot over the bar, and there were loud cheers when Spennymoor thought they had scored, but instead Roberts’ rising drive had hit the side-netting.

They were cheering for real when McKenna expertly volleyed home after taking a touch and latching onto Taylor’s flick.

The goal had been coming, there could be no qualms from Quakers, and soon there was another, this one by Boyes who tapped in after good work by Ramshaw.

“We missed three one-on-ones, good, clear chances and the game should’ve been done by half-time,” reflected Armstrong.

“We missed far too many chances and you can’t afford to do that because you get punished and that’s what happened today.

“In the first half an hour I thought we were poor, we resorted to how they play and we haven’t got the players to play like that, we like to get the ball down and play.

“When we did play our football the goal we scored was a different class.

“I can’t say we deserved to win as the second half wasn’t anywhere near good enough, but we deserved something out of the game.

“We should’ve been 3-2 up in the first half, we created enough chances and we didn’t take them.”

Asked about the enforced delay, Armstrong: “The referee was saying they didn’t want to play the second half, they wanted to abandon the game.

“It didn’t help. The last 15 minutes of that first half – Spenny couldn’t live with us and we were creating chances left, right and centre. But if you don’t take your chances you’re not going to win.”