The new Quaker TV team played an absolute blinder

Lifelong Darlington supporter Trevor Oakley's thoughts on the win at the weekend

The Darlo Diary by Trevor Oakley

After six months of no competitive football and your opening game has all the jeopardy of the FA Cup, there was always going to be only one metric for success: are we in the hat for the next round? Objective achieved.

Against a side from two divisions below, beyond getting through to the next round we couldn’t win. If we had won handsomely, it would have ‘only’ been against Prescot Cables. If we’d lost, it would have been a bitter blow ahead of a hectic run of fixtures. 

I thought we actually played quite well. For much of the game we looked well in control, which was quite refreshing considering our opponents were match sharp having played a host of league and FA Cup games. Our extra quality was evident for most of the game.

Unfortunately, not putting a game to bed when on top always has the potential for things to go south quickly and it nearly did. At the end of 90 minutes with the score level it was starting to feel like a greatest hits medley of last season; failing to convert more of the numerous chances created and conceding sloppy goals. 

Report: Darlington 2 Prescot Cables 2 – Quakers win FA Cup tie 5-4 on penalties

With the chances of progression on a knife’s edge, step forward a new hero. Enter stage right: Johnny Saltmer. Having had little to do but pick the ball out of his net during the 90 minutes and then not really come close to saving any of the first four Prescot penalties, I thought we were done ahead of their fifth. But our new goalkeeper leapt into action.

Two saves and a redeeming Nicky Hunt penalty later, we were through. Closer than anyone would have predicted or liked, but the objective of the game was achieved. We move on to Fylde on Tuesday. 

With Saltmer immediately endearing him to us with his penalty saving heroics, at the other end of the pitch we got a glimpse of the potential of Luke Charman.

Playing the role of big guy for little guy to play off, Charman was excellent. He has a physical presence which was lacking last season. He linked up the play well with his teammates but, most crucially, he got into goalscoring positions.

That might sound a bit silly when describing a striker, but a big issue last season was not having anyone doing just that. With Adam Campbell tending to drop deep to instigate play, we often found ourselves without anyone to hit in the box. If we did get numbers in there, we either didn’t find them or they didn’t have the physique to challenge. While Charman’s two goals were as straightforward as they come, he had to be there to score them and he had to be found. It’s a big positive for the new season. 

With the players looking decent without quite delivering full potential at either end of the pitch, one Darlo team was well and truly crushing the match. The Quaker TV team played an absolute blinder.

Having had the briefest of periods to prepare with the added spanner in the works of moving back from the Arena to Blackwell Meadows, they didn’t just survive the first game but they knocked it out of the park.

No soft opening in a pre-season friendly to work out the glitches, this was thrown in at the deep end. Would they sink or swim? It was a resounding success. From the past meetings footage and build up from going live to the commentary, different camera angles, replays and graphics during the game, it was excellent.

Highs and lows: Darlington v Prescot Cables

Not really knowing what to expect from it, I was blown away. All involved should be thoroughly proud of their hard work and the club should be rightly delighted at having yet another high-quality media channel to promote the club. Well done everyone.

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