Darlaston see off new League newcomers and end their 100% start to the season
By Simon Cox
Two Leon Taylor strikes and Noah Diallo's first of the season see Darlaston maintain their 100% record
The strength of Darlaston's squad was evident as despite having five players unavailable a superb all-round performance saw them extend their 100% winning start to the season to four games as they beat Droitwich spa in an excellent game at The Paycare Ground.
Both sides started the game well in front of a good-sized crowd and as early as the 5th minute the home side came within an inch of opening the scoring. Josh Tolley won the ball and following a marauding run down the right his superb cross was within an inch of the head of Leon Taylor in the 6-yard box. A minute later Mark Swann's header from a Noah Diallo corner brought a fine full-length diving save from visiting keeper Sam Hawker.
Droitwich also with a 100% winning start to the season responded with a Brad Burgess effort well wide. Noah Diallo for the home side and James Lemon for the visitors were the stand out players and some excellent work by Diallo set up a chance for Jarrod Grant but the youngster dragged his shot wide.
Against the run of play the visitors took the lead in the 24th minute. a through ball caught the home defence flat footed and the impressive James lemon broke clear, as he raced into the box an attempted challenge by keeper Liam Whittaker, saw the forward stumble slightly but Droitwich continued and had two attempts at goal including one rattling the bar as the Darlaston defence recovered their ground. Unfortunately for the home side some 15 seconds after Whittaker's original challenge the referee awarded a penalty kick. Curtis Townley duly dispatched the spot kick low to Whittaker's right.
Despite the setback Darlaston's response was immediate a strike from distance from Grant went high and wide whilst Diallo brought a good save from Hawker. The equaliser came on 33 minutes and Diallo was again at the heart of the action his 12-yard shot was parried by Hawker and Taylor was on hand to smash home into an empty net.
Both sides were playing some excellent football entertaining the crowd in the sunshine and a 1-1 scoreline at half time was fair on both teams.
James Lemon continued to be a thorn in the side of the home defence as he prompted and probed, forcing keeper Whittaker into making a good save. Diallo dragged a shot wide whilst a Brad Burgess tame effort was comfortably saved by Whittaker.
On 62 minutes a poor challenge by Townley on Daniel Bolzon saw a yellow card produced and a 25-yard free kick for the home side. Diallo stepped up to take it and a superb strike saw his goal bound effort tipped onto the post by keeper Hawker with the faintest of fingertip saves.
Two minutes later Darlaston took a deserved lead. The ever-alert Leon Taylor pounced on a poor back pass by Matthew Hunt, rounded keeper Hawker and confidently scored from 10 yards.
The goal gave the home side a confidence boost and on 68 minutes Swann was within inches of extending the lead with his 8-yard header agonisingly drifting wide. The home fans did not have long to wait for a 3rd goal and it came on 69 minutes with a glorious four man move rounded off with a goal of the highest quality. Josh Tolley won the ball on the right, laid it off to Taylor, Bolzon who wrong footed the visitors defence with a neat step over the dummy leaving the ball to Jarrod Grant provided the inch perfect pass to enable Diallo to superbly curl a 20-yard shot into the corner of the net giving Hawker no chance.
Just 3 minutes later the visitors were given a lifeline when Sam Causton brought down Hayden Morris in the penalty area. Townley again stepped up to take the spot kick this time placing it in the bottom left hand corner, but home keeper Whittaker pulled off an excellent save diving low to his left to keep the two-goal advantage intact.
Morris and Lemon both had efforts blocked by Ryan Jones, but it was the home side who had the chance to extend their lead further when a superb Leon Taylor header was plucked from the air by Hawker to deny the striker a hat trick.
In a superb advert for West Midlands Regional League football both sides played their part in a thoroughly entertaining game with Darlaston emerging as deserved winners.