After Darlington started their season with a defeat, we look at what was good and bad about the trip to AFC Fylde.
Fylde are certain to be among the promotion contenders, and Darlington gave them a game that suggested Alun Armstrong’s men are not far off their level. The ambitious Lancashire club, relegated last season, have assembled a squad of proven quality players, but Darlington did not give much away and lost only to a bit of quality late on, so there’s no reason to be deflated.
In his first start of the season, Sean Reid made a real impact. Recalled ahead of Justin Donawa, Reid’s height caused problems for Fylde, particularly in the hosts’ penalty area and he came close to scoring a header in the second half when the score was 0-0.
Darlington used their new away shirts for the first team, its pale green colour and pattern giving it echoes of West Germany’s iconic 1990 design. There’s a handful of teams using the Puma template, many of them using it as a goalkeeper kit, though that should not detract from what is a smart kit.
Travelled to the match with Quakers’ kit man so had the pleasure of delving into Gary’s sweet tub. Not a euphemism. Just like the back of his van, it was packed with goodies and made for a lovely treat for this passenger with sweet tooth.
The beginning of last season was blighted by injuries, and the same has happened this time around with strikers particularly affected. Adam Campbell went off early with a hamstring strain, Luke Charman exited after the restart after taking a whack on the hip and stand-in striker Sean Reid finished the game limping after his foot was stamped on. Dan Maguire is already out with a hamstring problem, David Atkinson has a groin issue and Jamie Holmes is out for the season.
Fylde should’ve had an alternative goalkeeper kit to green one Chris Neal wore, which wasn’t dissimilar to Quakers’ pale green strip. Fylde had requested Darlington bring with them an alternative kit for Neal to borrow, but decided before kick-off their No. 1 would not need it, yet at corners there was no clear distinction between him and Darlington players. It’s one that the referee should have resolved.
Gutted that Greggs was shut. Situated beside Mill Farm, it was intended be the location for my pre-match meal, yet on arrival it transpired this branch of the famed pasty merchants was closed, no vegan roll for me. This resulted in having to buy an over-priced tuna sandwich and extra large bag of Walkers crisps from the petrol station, so that was a blow.
Losing. Obviously. No matter how well we played, no matter how unfortunate we were due to injuries, it’s always a bugger to be heading home after losing. Onwards and upwards.