Darlaston leave Bustleholme’s new York Road home with the points
By Simon Cox
Three spot kicks from Zuki Stanton and a deft Leon Taylor header secure a 4-1 win
A hat trick of penalties by defender Martin Stanton gave Darlaston a comfortable win at York Road Oldbury. With Ryan Kingdon, Luke Charlton, Jarrod Grant and Tyrone Clarke O'Connell all unavailable Darlaston manager gave a debut to Connor Asbury and club captain Ryan McAllister and Noah Diallo returned to the starting line-up whilst Mark Swann and Gurdeep Wilkoo both made second half debuts.
Darlaston opened brightly and created three good chances in the opening 5 minutes. Firstly, Diallo had a shot blocked before full back Sam Causton made progress down the right flank before cutting inside to unleash a vicious 22-yard shot which rattled against the cross bar with keeper Luke Mauldridge well beaten. A minute later some neat work by Daniel Bolzon set up Antony Follows but the midfielder's 15-yard shot was well saved by Mauldridge.
A Leon Taylor overhead kick went tamely wide whilst Bustleholme’s Jack Whittall was unmarked in the Darlaston penalty area but missed a glorious chance sending his 10-yard header wide.
With just 15 minutes on the clock the visitors had forced five corners all coming to nothing. Darlaston's forward play was rewarded in the 17th minute. A right-wing cross from Diallo was met by Taylor's firm goalward bound header but Dane Hughes' outstretched hand denied the striker his first goal of the season as the referee pointed to the spot. Stanton confidently dispatched the spot kick to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Asbury, Bolzon and Follows all had opportunities to extend the lead but were denied by some good goalkeeping and some fine defending. Darlaston doubled their lead in the 28th minute with their seventh corner of the half. A superb deft header by Taylor converting Diallo's pin point corner.
Darlaston were looking confident and in control until two errors at the heart of the defence gave Bustleholme a life line in the 32nd minute. Some sloppy distribution at the back allowed Myles Nettleford to create havoc with a left-wing cross resulting in a corner. From the corner the havoc continued a Chris Norton header bobbled in to the six-yard area Sam Causton's attempted clearance hit the back of Whittaker and rebounded into the net to halve the arrears.
Despite the setback Darlaston responded well and Taylor had two glorious opportunities to extend their lead, firstly he created a fine chance for himself turning two defenders before unleashing a dipping 20-yard angled shot inches over the bar. A minute later Taylor pounced on a poor back pass, but his 12-yard shot was saved by the legs of keeper Mauldridge. On 37 minutes Darlaston were awarded their second penalty when Bolzon was brought down from behind by Ashley Brookes. Stanton again dispatched the spot kick to restore the visitors two goal advantage.
Darlaston were dominant in the opening 45 minutes but the second half was more evenly contested and Bustleholme probably had the edge. Last season's Division One top goal scorer and League Player of the Season Chris Brown was much more influential spraying 40 and 50 yard passes from left to right creating problems for the home defence as Remmell Johnson and Myles Nettleford both responded as Bustleholme tried desperately to get themselves back into the game.
Whittall pounced on a poor back pass by Ryan Jones but Whittaker's legs came to the rescue whilst Brown and Chris Norton both had shots well wide. brown hit the bar with a 20-yard drive and Darlaston weathered the storm to compose themselves forcing several free kicks as the home side became a little over zealous with some of their challenges on Diallo and Bolzon.
With 5 minutes remaining Darlaston were awarded their third penalty of the afternoon when Mark Swann was brought down by Zac Holden, for the third time Stanton stepped up to convert the spot kick, his first hat trick for the club.
The action was not over. On 87 minutes Bustleholme midfielder Chris Norton was sent off for a scything challenge on Bolzon and in the final seconds Leon Taylor turned his defender twice in the box before shooting inches wide from 12 yards.
Albeit very early in a long season, the win takes Darlaston to the top of the table with a maximum 6 points from their opening two games.
This coming Saturday Darlaston are again on their travels as they visit Wellington Amateurs in Shropshire kick off 3.00pm.