SUBSTITUTE Mitch Curry provided the ideal start to Steve Watson’s reign as Darlington manager with a stoppage-time goal at the Walks on Saturday – the first time Quakers have beaten the Linnets in five attempts.

Quakers were the most organised, composed and enterprising they have been for a long time, and deserved the three points against one of their fellow strugglers. They got into wide areas more and posed more danger in the opposition box.

Several players produced some of their best performances of the season, but new signing Scott Barrow was the pick of the bunch, bringing some much-needed assurance to the defence as well as nearly scoring in the first half. And then he won top marks from the fans for returning to the field after limping off with a knee injury when he realised that Quakers had used all their subs by then.

“I thought that we deserved the points on the way that we defended,” said Watson, who is the third permanent manager of the season. “The lads worked their socks off.  They had to defend an awful lot, and defended the second balls really well.

“It was one of those days when it wasn’t free-flowing football and there weren’t great chances created at either end.

“We just had to stay organised and take our chance when we got it. It was a really good composed finish and a really good ball through in the end.

“When the game started to open up and they threw bodies forward, I just thought it might be a counter goal to take the points.”

It was only Quakers fifth win of the season, and Watson said: “We tried to be composed at times, but it’s difficult when a team is on a bad run and confidence isn’t particularly high.

“I’m not a defensive manager, but I put a lot of stock into working with the back four and getting clean sheets. King’s Lynn have more entries into the box than most clubs, and I thought our defence dealt with the first and second balls really well.”

Barrow, who was signed from York on Thursday, produced a new dimension to Quakers’ play with the use of his long throws. On two occasions early in the game he managed to put the ball into the home box and put the defence under pressure.

Quakers were much better at picking up loose balls around the opposition box. Ben Hedley and Andrew Nelson both had half-chances, before Adriano Moke headed the ball into the box for Nelson to turn quickly and fire just over the top.

The Linnets nearly scored when a cross came in from the left from Gabriel Rogers to the far post where Owen Devenport seemed a certain scorer, but Cardo Siddik managed to poke the ball away.

Barrow showed his quality from a higher level when he nearly scored on 37 minutes, when the ball came to him 25 yards out, and he kept his balance well to hit a left-foot shot towards the top corner that Lynn keeper Paul Jones pushed over the bar.

Right at the start of the second half, Quakers created a chance when Asante helped the ball on for Nelson to run into the box, but a defender blocked his shot, then Toby Lees headed a Hedley free kick into the keeper’s hands.

Barrow played a one-two with Hatfield on his weaker right foot and pulled the ball wide, and Asante put another effort put another past the post.

Watson gambled by putting on all his subs in the space of ten minutes – Jarrett Rivers, Cameron Salkeld and Curry – and the move paid off in the second minute of stoppage time. Asante cleverly controlled the ball on the left and found Salkeld inside, and he played the ball through perfectly for Curry, who was playing his first game in three months because of an elbow injury, to take a touch and coolly slot the ball home for his third goal of the season.

That was enough to give Quakers their first win in four matches and if they can maintain this level of performance, they’ve got a chance of winning at Southport on Tuesday night and reducing the seven-point gap to safety.