A DRAMATIC end to an afternoon of goals saw the visitors Darlington 1883 come back in the dying depths of the game to claim all three points against Salford City at Moor Lane.
Bernard Morley’s and Anthony Johnson’s Salford started the game strong in the first 20 minutes claiming a goal through Josh Hine’s header looping over Darlington’s goalkeeper Peter Jameson in the 22nd minute.
It wasn’t too long after that, captain Chris Lynch led by example in the 25th minute through a six-yard tap to give the Ammies a two goal lead going into the second half.
The dominance on the right wing proved to be the secret to Salford’s first half success. The visitors couldn’t handle the pace of, newly signed winger, John Johnston as well as striker Hine who kept finding himself in a lot of space behind the back four with the help of long balls.
The second half was set to be a contested affair as Darlington 1883 looked to get back into the game. It was set to be another test for referee, Martin Woods, whose first half display lacked decisive decisions including a Salford City claim for a penalty that was not given, many fouls unpunished and another penalty appeal from Darlington 1883 waved away before the half time whistle.
The second half began with both teams unchanged. Signs of the first half looked to carry on as Salford were taking advantage of the rough pitch by exposing the visitors defence from through balls and aerial battles.
It wasn’t until the 62nd minute when the game began to turn heads with a goal through Thomas Portas. The 23-year-old curled into the bottom right hand corner from the left-side of the area to give Darlington 1883 a fighting chance.
However any hopes of revival looked to be bleak as Salford’s Danny Webber latched onto a Jameson error, on a day to forget for the Darlington number one, to make it 3-1 in the 65th minute.
The game, at this point, looked to be beyond Darlo’s reach until an inspiring 10 minutes from striker Lee Gaskell who manged to make his goal tally for the season to 13. The first of two goals by Gaskell came in the 71st minute, and the most needed and controversial of all, the equaliser in the 75th minute. Salford protested after the goal as they believed there was a clear free kick waved away by the referee and an offside in the build up.
The knife would be pushed further into Salford fans in the 86th minute when substitute Nathan Cartman stroked home within the box to score the winner.
To only add further misery to the Ammies, the referee, again, rejected a penalty claim and sent off goalkeeper Jay Lynch for a second bookable foul in added time.
The result ended 3-4, a perfect reflection of an open game filled with goals, excitement, controversy, poor refereeing and poor defending. Whilst the incredible comeback by Darlington 1883 will catch headlines, many Salford City fans will go home complaining about the officials crucial decisions that changed the course of the game – including a potentially missed punch on Gareth Seddon in the 79th minute.
The result of today’s game means Darlington 1883 swap places with Salford and now lie in third place in the Evo-Stik Premier Division. The Ammies will look to claim back third place with a trip to Illkeston on February 20, whilst Darlington 1883 will have their sights on a sixth consecutive win against Ossett Town.
Salford: J. Lynch, Gumbs (Dawson ‘90), O’Halloran, Moses, Howson, C. Lynch (c), Johnston (Mwasile ‘83), Burton, Hine, Webber (Seddon ‘79), Allen.
Unused subs: Clark, Poole.
Red card: J Lynch
Darlington 1883: Jameson, Hunter, Galbraith, Turnbull (Armstrong ‘69), Burgess, Brown, Portas (Cartman ‘71), Scott, Hardy, Gaskell (Provett ‘92) Thompson.
Unused subs: Nowakowski, Dowson.
By: Tyler Marriott