DARLINGTON’S upturn in form continued with a 3-0 win over Blyth Spartans, a much-deserved victory and the high point so far in Tommy Wright’s tenure as manager.

It is now two wins and two draws for Quakers, who followed last week’s win at Leamington with a strong display.

It was 1-0 at the break, Stephen Thompson scoring a penalty in added time, before second-half strikes by Reece Styche and Dave Syers wrapped up victory which included a rare clean sheet.

It was Darlington’s first in 20 games, since beating FC United 3-0, when Martin Gray was still manager.

Peter Jameson, a player Gray allowed to leave Darlington, was in the Blyth team and he received a good reception before kick-off from the Tin Shed in recognition of his 129 appearances in black and white and being part of two promotion-winning teams.

Dale Hopson, another ex-Quaker, started the game while Ian Watson was a substitute for a side managed by former Darlington striker Alun Armstrong.

The first half was even with chances for both sides, Blyth getting close to goal first.

Sean Reid let fly from 20 yards for Blyth, Aynsley Pears confident in not attempting a save as the ball sailed wide, before Hopson curled an effort wide after the dangerous Dan Maguire dribbled into the heart of the Darlington defence with a penetrating run.

An excellent challenge by birthday boy Terry Galbraith, 28 today, stopped Maguire shooting in the box, the striker having latched onto Hopson’s ball over the top.

Darlington’s first attempt went over, Josh Heaton off target with a header after meeting a Joe Wheatley free-kick from out wide, given when Phil Turnbull was fouled.

Darlington thought they had scored midway through the half. Syers got the final touch with a header at the front post following an O’Hanlon cross, and Quakers celebrated until the referee blew his whistle for offside.

Hopson found a yard of space on the edge of the box, enough to get a shot away, but Pears was equal to it, and soon Robbie Dale curled an effort wide when searching for the far post when Jarrett Rivers had hit a dead end on the opposite flank, the ball finding its way across the penalty area.

The first of two excellent saves by Pears came five minutes before the break, Quakers’ keeper flinging himself to his left to keep out a low effort by Michael Liddle.

The save proved decisive. In added time Spartans defender Ryan Hutchinson tripped Styche as the striker was about to shoot, and up stepped Thompson to smash the ball home from the penalty spot – his fifth successful spot-kick of the season.

Having led 1-0 at the break against York recently, only to see the lead overturned soon after the restart, there must have been concerns Quakers could crumble again – they had not kept a clean sheet since September.

But any worries were unfounded. In fact, they almost made it 2-0, after a lovely move: Syers sent Caton down the left, and he stood a ball up to the back post where Styche rose but was a little underneath the ball and headed it over.

Then came the second super Pears save, this time pushing away Hopson’s snap-shot from 18 yards. The effort came amid a spell of Blyth pressure, Darlington unable to clear or win any of the second balls.

But Darlington doubled their lead 2-0 on 57 minutes, scored by that man again Styche.

The rejuvenated Caton, having also provided an assist last week, set it up with a cracking cross from the left following a Syers pass, pulling the ball back after taking a man on and then Styche pulled the trigger.

It was his ninth goal in his tenth appearance.

Dale was largely ineffective, but he remained a latent threat. The Blyth man rode a number of challenges as he broke into the penalty area, but his well-hit low shot rebounded off the post and out for a goal kick.

Blyth looked for the ball over the top a lot, hoping to play in Maguire, and one pass he latched on to looked good enough to him a chance of hitting the target, but he lashed at it and the chance was gone, and then sub Adam Wrightson had a shot that hit the side-netting.

He was one of two subs, Armstrong having changed formation in an attempt to start a fightback, but it was game over when Darlington took a 3-0 lead on 73 minutes.

Wheatley played a pass to Thompson, his cross was headed home powerfully by Syers, giving Darlington an insurmountable lead.

Points in the bag, Wright withdrew Styche and masked man Caton, who both went off to warm applause, and so relaxed were Quakers that Turnbull showed off his skills, following up a Maradona-turn with a step-over.

Goals: Thompson pen (45, 1-0), Styche (57, 2-0), Syers (73, 3-0)

Bookings: Hutchinson (56, foul), Reid (84, foul)

Referee: A Jackson (Liverpool)

Attendance: 1,526

Darlington (4-2-3-1): Pears; Trotman, Heaton, Galbraith, O’Hanlon; Turnbull, Wheatley; Thompson (Scott 88), Syers, Caton (Gillies 78), Styche (Saunders 82). Subs not used: Bancroft, Brown

Blyth Spartans (4-2-3-1): Jameson; Atkinson, Buddle, Hutchinson, Liddle; Reid, Mullen (Wrightson 61); Rivers (Rutherford 70), Hopson, Dale; Maguire. Subs not used: Macdonald, Laidler, Watson