DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong admitted his side were lucky as they scraped past AFC Telford United in a penalty shoot-out at Blackwell Meadows.

Quakers were second best against a sharper visiting side who created many more of the chances in the game, but their will-to-win, especially when they were 2-1 down, got them through to this lunchtime’s FA Trophy third-round draw.

Their hero was on-loan keeper Melvin Minter, who pulled off several good saves, stopped a penalty in normal time, and another in the shoot-out – the first time Quakers have claimed a spot-kicks victory in the Trophy.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve won a game that we didn’t deserve to win,” he said. “It’s happened to us that we’ve played so well and lost before. Fatigue seemed to have set into our players. We had over a fortnight without a game, then two games in three days caught up with them.

“Telford were a lot sharper than us. We scored first, but there was no spark and we didn’t kick on. You could see that the goals were coming. When they scored at 2-1, we came to life a little bit and caused them problems. Will (Hatfield) scored a great free-kick for the equaliser.

“Melvin was outstanding and kept us in the game. He did well last Wednesday night against City of Liverpool, and gave the lads confidence again.

“He told the lads that he was coming for things, and made some great saves look easy. His penalty save in the second half was outstanding and kept us in the game, and then he made another great save in the shoot-out.

Quakers started well enough after five minutes, when the Telford defence missed a long clearance by Minter, and Dan Maguire, the replacement for Luke Charman who was injured in the warm up, set up Jarrett Rivers to side-foot past keeper Russell Griffiths.

Tony McMahon then had a curling free-kick from the edge of the box well saved by Griffiths, but Quakers hardly threatened again before the half-time break.

Telford were sharper and stronger, and their superiority allowed them to create some good chances, but fortunately for Quakers, Minter saved from Aaron Williams, Adam Walker, Jamie Hardy and Dominic McHale, while Williams also hit the post.

Telford deservedly equalised in first-half stoppage time when Williams headed a right-wing cross from Davies into the top corner.

Quakers nearly went back into the lead five minutes after half-time when Erico Sousa hit the post, but Telford always looked the more likely to score, and Dominic McHale struck a blistering left-foot shot that cannoned back off the bar.

They were awarded a penalty on 62 minutes when McHale went down following a challenge by Hatfield, but Minter guessed correctly and saved Williams’ spot kick at full stretch.

Williams made up for his miss by volleying a cross from Jordan Davies into the bottom corner on 78 minutes, but four minutes later, Hatfield was fouled on the edge of the box, and he drove the free-kick through the wall into the net.

When it came to the shoot-out, Quakers were deadly. McMahon, Rivers, Hatfield, Adam Campbell and Nicky Hunt all scored, while Melvin set up victory by stopping Telford’s second spot-kick by McHale.