An entertaining second half sees Darlaston secure place in second round
By Simon Cox
Darlo recover well after being two goals behind
Darlaston made it six consecutive wins with a hard earned 3-2 win in this 1st Round J.W. Hunt Cup fixture. With League action on hold for a week manager Andy Parkes took the opportunity to make several changes and give full debuts to new signings Ryan Pratt and Adam Skeldon, Gurdeep Wilkhoo made his full debut whilst second half substitutes Alex Solomon and Liam Cox made their first appearances.
The changes meant that Darlaston were a little disjointed but a stunning 3 goals in a second half 10-minute spell saw them claw back a 2-goal deficit.
Skeldon impressed early on with a blocked shot and Mark Swann shot wide from a Ryan Jones free kick. Alex Trout and Stefan Barnard both missed difficult chances for the visitors as the game became a midfield stalemate. Leigh Edwards and Nathan Robertson were particularly impressive for the visitors showing good skills on the ball.
Swann and Skeldon both missed chances whilst full backs Ryan Kingdon and Sam Causton both shot wide and high. The game was littered with free kicks and neither side could get their passing football in full flow during a poor first half.
The 2nd half was a different story bringing five goals and plenty of entertainment in the sunshine at The Paycare Ground.
The visitors started the second half impressively and the excellent Leigh Edwards hit the bar with an 18-yard shot before putting them ahead in the 53rd minute with a brilliant individual goal. The attacking midfielder progressed down the right flank cut inside the penalty area and from a difficult angle beating keeper Ryan Pratt with a powerful low drive.
Darlaston's response was immediate, Skeldon had a 15-yard shot blocked by Conroy Edwards and Jarrod grant hit the foot of the post with keeper Jack Gibbons stranded.
On 58 minutes Darlaston were guilty of some poor defensive marking, the visitors taking full advantage to double their lead. a long throw into the penalty area was not cleared by the Darlo defence and Christopher Campbell was on hand to drive home from 8 yards beyond goalkeeper Pratt.
Manager Andy Parkes response was immediate making a two substitutions inside 5 minutes after the first goal bringing on Alex Solomon and Daniel Bolzon for Ryan Kingdon and Connor Asbury respectively. Immediately the substitutions brought new energy, quality and pace to the home side and the arrears were reduced in the 63rd minute, Mark Swann scoring from 6 yards after some excellent approach play by Bolzon.
The goal gave Darlaston new life as they went all out for the equaliser. A Mark Swann header went inches wide and Daniel Bolzon was within inches of connecting with a near post header following a Sam Causton cross. Darlaston were on terms in the 68th minute with a superbly worked goal. Bolzon beat two defenders before laying the ball off for Alex Solomon who had only been on the field for 12 minutes on his home debut. The midfielder latched on to Bolzon's pass with a superb curling effort from the edge of the box beyond keeper Gibbons to send the large home support ecstatic.
The quality of the equalising goal was exceptional, but it was eclipsed 5 minutes later with a move which would've graced any level of football. Bolzon started and finished the move, picking the ball up in his own half he glided past three defenders, laid the ball off to Swann just inside the penalty area, Bolzon continued his run into the box and Swann's return pass was perfectly weighted for Bolzon to run onto and unleash an 8-yard drive for the winning goal.
The final quarter of the game was well managed by a now confident Darlaston team limiting the visitors to long range half chances whilst running the clock down to secure a second-round tie between the winners of Bilston Town and Alvechurch.
Next Saturday sees Darlaston to return to league action with a home game against Sikh Hunters at The Paycare Ground, Bentley Leisure Pavilion, Bentley Road North, Bentley WS2 0EA kick off 3.00pm.