JOSH GOWLING expects Spennymoor’s players to be like “wounded animals” when they arrive at Blackwell Meadows on Saturday – but the Darlington boss insists his own side have to focus on building on the disciplined defensive display that secured a point against Blyth on Tuesday.

While Quakers were playing out a goalless draw with Blyth, Spennymoor were suffering an unexpected 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Scunthorpe United.

The defeat saw Moors drop down to fourth position in the table, and should serve as extra motivation when they head to Darlington for their game at the weekend.

Quakers remain rooted to the foot of the table with just eight points from their opening 13 league games, but while Gowling is expecting a Spennymoor reaction, he will be focusing on his own players’ efforts on Saturday afternoon.

“They’ll (Spennymoor) be a wounded animal won’t they,” said the Darlington boss. “We can’t worry about that side of things – for us, it’s about getting points on the board and climbing up the table.

“It’ll be a different game to the Blyth one – we won’t come up against many teams that play the way Blyth play – but Spennymoor are right up there as well. We’ll have a proper look at them over the next couple of days now and get ourselves prepared and ready to go on Saturday.”


Tuesday’s clean sheet, which was only Darlington’s second shutout of the season, was achieved with a new-look defence.

Kallum Griffiths, who is normally a right-back, played as one of three centre-halves alongside Jake Lawlor and new signing Kieran Burton, who has joined Quakers on loan from Hartlepool United. The trio combined effectively to restrict a high-flying Blyth to precious few clear-cut opportunities.

“We looked at it, and there’s not been enough voices at the back as of late,” said Gowling. “Griff will certainly give you that, and he did that.

“Kieran got Man of the Match making his debut, and he gives us that athleticism as well. I thought that brought Lawlor to life as well, and I thought the three of them were absolutely outstanding. It was really pleasing with those performances.”

York-born Burton started his career in Barnsley’s youth ranks and had spells at Tadcaster Albion and Scarborough Athletic before joining Hartlepool in the summer.

The 20-year-old has joined Darlington on an initial one-month loan, and slotted in effectively on Tuesday night with his aggressive defending proving a major factor in his side’s clean sheet.

“He’s really aggressive,” said Gowling. “He’s good at one-v-ones, good in the air, and a threat in the opposition box. He’s also got a long throw, which we haven’t really seen yet. He gives us a bit of youth, that naivety of youth where he’ll just step in and be really aggressive.”

Gowling also handed a debut to Hayden Lindley on Tuesday evening, even though the youngster had only completed his move to Darlington on the morning of the game.

A 21-year-old midfielder, Lindley spent two years in Aston Villa’s youth ranks and made his senior debut for the Premier League club in an FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool in January 2021.

He was a member of the Villa team that won the FA Youth Cup the following May, beating Liverpool in the final, and made another senior appearance in a Carabao Cup win over Barrow at the start of the 2021-22 season.

He had a loan spell at Newport County last season, but was released from Villa in the summer and had been playing for non-league Golcar United on a non-contract basis before completing a move to Darlington.

“He’s got good experience,” said Gowling. “He was at Newport on loan last season for a period. We brought him on in the second half (against Blyth) and he’s obviously not trained with us, so to put him on in a game like that where the opposition had had a lot of possession was tough for him, but he came in and kept things simple, and I thought it was a really good debut.”