Andrew Nelson came off the bench to score a crucial winner and complete Quakers’ comeback against Buxton.

They trailed 1-0 at half-time, and having not won after conceding the first goal of a match since February 2023 there cannot have been many supporters at Blackwell Meadows predicting a second-half fightback.

But that is exactly what Darlington delivered - Mitchell Curry getting the equaliser - meaning they are now five points adrift of safety after overcoming a side who beat them 5-0 at the start of the season.

They started positively but for all of Darlington’s encouraging build-up play and teamwork they failed to trouble Buxton goalkeeper Joe Young.

Cedric Main hit the side-netting, a Jarrett Rivers header was off target after a Matty Cornish delivery and a cross by Kallum Griffiths narrowly evaded Rivers.

Buxton briefly threatened and Quakers keeper Matty Young dealt easily with a Joe Ackroyd shot from 20 yards, but there was nothing Young could do to stop the first goal.

It came in farcical circumstances. Scott Barrow’s attempt at dealing with a Buxton punt down the middle of the pitch led to him heading the ball beyond Quakers’ keeper, the impressive loanee from Sunderland.

Barrow was playing in the centre of defence due to Cardo Siddik and Jake Lawlor being injured.

It was almost 2-0 before half-time following a Buxton corner. Max Hunt’s header was cleared off the line by Griffiths, and then Young saved from the beanpole Bucks centre-back.

Hunt and Jake Hull were imposing figures and a threat at set-pieces, their height unmatched by a relatively small Darlington XI.

Given that Darlington had lost the last 16 times when they had gone 1-0 down, Quakers could have collapsed, yet Steve Watson’s side showed spirit in the second 45.

Hunt cleared off the line from Ben Liddle, before Watson sent on Nelson to form a three-pronged attack with Curry and Main, and soon it was 1-1 after a corner.

What Darlington lacked in height they made up ingenuity. Liddle’s delivery met Nelson on the corner of the six-yard box and he impudently back-heeled it on the volley to the far post. It would have been an audacious goal, but Curry believed he got the final touch on the line.

Nelson need not have worried, however, as with nine minutes to go he lashed home the winner from just inside the penalty area. It came following a cross from the right, the ball half-cleared to Nelson 16 yards out and with trademark velocity he powered the ball home.

Following a glut of missed chances in midweek against Boston, his reaction was equal parts celebration and relief.

Darlington hung on to secure three vital points and they will hope for more of the same on Tuesday at Curzon Ashton.

Referee: Richard Holmes

Attendance: 1,224

Darlington: Young; Griffiths, Lees, Barrow, Hedley (Nelson 67); Cornish (Platt 85), Hatfield, Liddle, Rivers (Salkeld 76); Main, Curry. Subs not used: Ngandu, Lindley

Buxton: Young; Hull (Brown 76), Granite, Hunt; Minihan, Kirby, Weston (De Girolamo 76), Ackroyd, Livingstone; McKeown, Elliott (McCourt 67). Subs not used: Shiels, Brogan