Bradford Park Avenue 1
Darlington 2

Darlington completed their pre-season programme with a comfortable win at Bradford Park Avenue which came thanks in part to a trialist Nigerian striker.

Olushola Aganun Martins, who has told manager Colin Todd he is a relative of former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins, gave Quakers a first half lead at rain-soaked Horsfall Stadium.

As one of four trialists Martins played for the first 45 minutes during Darlington's final friendly, a game in which Lee Thorpe also scored but wasted chances too.

Also given a run-out were former Hartlepool defender Darren Williams, ex-Newcastle trainee James Marwood and right-back Ricky Baines who has been with Macclesfield and Coventry.

Whether Todd's budget can accommodate any further signings, other than loans, is questionable although after the game Quakers manager said that Marwood's trial was over.

Of more concern to Todd was the appearance of dependable captain Steve Foster who successfully came through just over an hour's play.

It was his first action of pre-season as he recovers from an ankle operation and he is likely to play in the season curtain-raiser at Aldershot in seven days' time.

Darlington took their time to get going today. Inside the first ten minutes Quakers keeper David Knight spilled Luke Gibson's cross but escaped punishment as Bradford were unable to take advantage.

Soon after Gibson hit Darlington's side-netting at the end of a counter-attack that began with Thorpe too easily being dispossessed on the edge of the hosts' penalty area.

A near lengthy delay brought a halt to proceedings midway through the half due to an injury sustained by an assistant referee.

After receiving treatment from Darlington physio Will Short the official hobbled away but not before handing his flag over to Bradford kitman Dave Wilson who became an emergency linesman.

Within seconds he was called on to judge whether or not the hosts were offside, a decision he called correctly, and soon after Darlington had taken the lead through Martins.

He tapped home from close-range after Lee Thorpe and Bradford keeper Steve Dickinson had both challenged to meet a Mark Convery cross and deflected the ball into the Nigerian's path.

Four minutes later, in the 33rd minute, Convery was the provider again as Quakers made it 2-0.

The wide midfielder, returning to Darlington after a spell in non-league, swung a deep cross to Thorpe at the far post where the target man planted home a firm header.

The 2-0 scoreline was harsh on Bradford, and they would have pulled on back were it not for an excellent Knight save just before the break.

The former Middlesbrough trainee saved at close-range from Gibson following Chris Hall's ball from the right.

Darlington were wearing their new Errea-manufactured yellow away strip but only those sure to be with Quakers during the coming season had their names printed on the back.

The trialists, hoping to impress, had to make do without names on their shirts, as did youth team player Paul Granger who began in place of the injured Jeff Smith on the left-wing.

Two of those sure to be signing contracts are Thorpe and Convery and the pair combined to create another chance just before the break.

During five minutes of injury time, added due to the assistant referee's injury, Thorpe ran on to a Convery through-ball and rounded the keeper but blasted his effort wide.

Striker Dean Windass and midfielder James Bennett both entered the fray at half-time but following an entertaining first 45 minutes, little of note occurred during the opening stages of a tepid second period.

On 65 minutes Todd made five substitutions, sending on the remainder of his trialist substitutes, plus defender Matty Plummer and keeper Nick Liversedge.

Soon after his introduction the young keeper got down smartly to make a save from Aiden Savory but Bradford's threat was otherwise contained.

With so many substitutions perhaps a factor, Darlington lost much of their impetus although they could have made it 3-0 with three minutes to go but Thorpe wasted the opportunity.

After Bennett's fine run into the opposition penalty area, he passed the ball on to Windass who in turn put a goal on a plate for Thorpe but he dallied on the ball and eventually his shot was deflected wide.

Darlington were punished for Thorpe's hesitancy as within a minute it was 2-1 thanks to Jorden Missin. He headed home from inside the area after a break up Darlington's left.

Bradford deserved their goal but Darlington were worthy of the win and they will hope for another when the real action starts next week.


Goals: 0-1 (29mins, Martins), 0-2 (33, Thorpe); 1-2 (88, Missin)

Bradford Park Avenue (4-4-2): Dickinson, Downes, Hunter, Groom, Ainge, Stabb, Baldry, James, Hall, Savory, Gibson. Subs: Bairstow, Abbott, Ndukba, Webster, Arundel, Hudson, Missin

Darlington (4-4-2): Knight (Liversedge 65mins); Arnison (Baines 65), Miller (Williams 65), Foster (Plummer 65), Bower; Convery (Marwood 65), Lumsdon (Bennett 45), G Smith, Granger; Thorpe, Martins (Windass 45). Sub (not used): Riley