FOR four minutes in a windswept corner of Manchester the reality of another relegation battle stared us straight in the face. We were playing the worst side in the league missing a major chunk of their team to injuries and suspensions, so when the roar of celebration from the home fans reverberated around the ground as the host took the lead my heart sunk a little. There are low points in most seasons and I really hope that was it for us.

FC United of Manchester 1 Darlington 2

Our equaliser was as fortunate as they come. I’m not sure anyone in the away end of the ground even realised it had gone in initially. The delayed celebration was surreal, a mixture of relief and disbelief. Without seeing the video of the goal, I can only assume the wind played a big part in it ending up in the net. What I do know is when your luck is down, when goals have resembled gold dust in recent times, you don’t worry how it went in. We were level and it was game on.

For any neutrals, the first half was an exhibition of two very poor sides trying their hardest to gain some traction to get themselves out of the mess. Considering the patched up nature of our hosts, they caused us more trouble than they really should have. Neither side had a grip on the game but what was worrying was how you could see the FCUM players gaining confidence as the half wore on. They began believing in themselves. We rode our luck big style.

From where I was stood on the side, they should have had a penalty rather than a booking for a dive and then we really lucked out when an attacker hit the post even though scoring seemed to be the much easier option.

Having gotten away with things during the first half, it was interesting to see Tommy Wright sat out in the dugout for over five minutes of the half time. Oh to have been a fly on the wall in the dressing room to see what was going on. Did Alan White read the riot act? Did the players sort themselves out? Either way, we picked up in the second 45.

The winner from Harvey Saunders summed up his never-say-die approach to workrate. He reaped the reward for chasing down when others probably wouldn’t. We need more of that in our current circumstances.

With the lead secured, it gave us something to defend. We’ve only led in games four times this season and converted two of those into three points. Fortunately, unlike the games against Curzon Ashton and Spennymoor Town, we clung on to it even if the nerves were a little frayed come full time.

With our inability to put the game to bed despite the referee determined to help us as much as he could by sending off two home players, there was always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it could still go pear shaped. Fortunately, it didn’t and we now have a little bit of breathing space between us and the relegation zone.

Before the game, there was a sense that the match had the same sort of importance as the game at Leamington last season. While the parallels between the games were apparent beforehand, they were even greater after it.

Like at Leamington, we didn’t play well. Like at Leamington, the referee helped us out by handicapping our hosts. Like at Leamington, we came from behind to secure the win. Back in January, that game allowed us to find our feet, gain some much-needed confidence and pull away from the relegation battle. After that game, we went on to lose only three games in 14 with us winning seven. We need to see a similar response now.