Report: AFC Fylde 1 Darlington 0

Darlington's Adam Campbell. Picture: Andy Futers

A bit of quality late on condemned Darlington to a 1-0 defeat at AFC Fylde.

After starting the season by beating Prescot Cables in the FA Cup on Saturday, there was little between the teams last night at Mill Farm.

But substitute Nick Haughton grabbed the only goal for the title contenders, after which Darlington were left ruing their luck with injuries.

Strikers Adam Campbell and Luke Charman both limped out of the contest, and Sean Reid ended it hobbling around the Mill Farm pitch.

Highs and lows: AFC Fylde 1 Darlington 0

His foot was trodden on in the final few minutes, and with Dan Maguire (hamstring) and David Atkinson (groin) already out there will be concern among Quakers regarding team selection for upcoming fixtures.

They are now at home twice in four days, against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday and Tadcaster Albion in the FA Cup on Tuesday, and manager Alun Armstrong will wonder if he is able to bring in reinforcements, particularly to the attack.

Campbell exited early with a hamstring strain, depriving Darlington of one of their players most likely to score in a match evenly-contested for the most part, especially during the first 45 minutes at a wind and rain-swept Mill Farm.

There were few scoring chances for either side, defences being largely on top, though midfielder Reid was a danger for Darlington.

Recalled at the expense of Justin Donawa, Reid’s aerial threat made him a useful weapon, a couple of times getting on the end of high balls in the opposition penalty area while he also dragged a shot wide when perhaps should have done better from around 16 yards.

At the other end, Jordan Hulme had Fylde’s best chance of the first 45, his low shot being parried by Johnny Saltmer, who was underemployed during a tight first half.

Charman finished the half hobbling heavily, he started the second period with the hope of running it off but was unable to so was soon replaced by Ben Hedley, meaning Reid had to play as a stand-in striker.

Striker Kurt Willoughby, formerly with FC United of Manchester, rattled the bar with a free-kick, but Darlington had their moments too with a deflected Michael Liddle cross landing on the roof of the net, and Reid heading just over after a pinpoint Hedley cross.

But without Campbell or Charman, and with injured Maguire at home, Darlington lacked a real threat and increasingly were left defending and playing on the counter attack with Fylde holding most of the possession.

The hosts were invigorated by the introduction of Haughton, a player who has previously enjoyed good games versus Darlington for Chorley and Salford, and Junior Mondal, a former Middlesbrough youngster who Armstrong was interested in signing in the summer.

They came on after an hour, the attack-minded midfielders giving Darlington something extra to think about, but Quakers did not give much a way and it was beginning to look like they would take what would’ve been a good point against full-time opposition.

But Fylde broke the deadlock on 78 minutes. Haughton picked up the ball on the right and was allowed to drift inside onto his favoured left foot, before guiding the ball low into far corner of the Darlington net from around 18 yards.

It was a well-taken goal, a fine finish, though Quakers will question why Haughton was allowed the space to cut inside and pull the trigger.

Darlington kept plugging away with a wide Donowa low drive the closest they came to a leveller.

Louis Laing joined the fray as an emergency striker, playing up front alongside an injured Reid, who stayed on despite clearly being in pain.

But that Laing and Reid finished the match up top said it all about Darlington’s injury woes, which they will hope be resolved in time for the weekend.

AFC Fylde:
Chris Neal
Luke Burke
Luke Conlan
Nathan Pond
Alex Whitmore
Ben Tollitt (Nathan Shaw 87)
Danny Philliskirk
Luke Burgess (Junior Mondal 63)
David Perkins
Jordan Hulme
Kurt Willoughby (Nick Haughton 63)
Subs not used: Max Johnstone, Liam Nolan

Darlington:
Johnny Saltmer
Tony McMahon
Nicky Hunt
Alex Storey
Michael Liddle
Joe Wheatley (Louis Laing 90)
Will Hatfield
Sean Reid
Jarrett Rivers
Luke Charman (Ben Hedley 53)
Adam Campbell (Justin Donawa 14)
Subs not used: Jordan Watson, Rhys Armstrong

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