Darlaston take the first steps of many in an effort to return to their early season form
By Simon Cox
A better second half performance sees Darlaston secure the points at the end of a difficult week for the club
Following a midweek burglary and destruction of property the mood at The Paycare Ground was muted but a much improved second half performance eventually saw Darlaston return to winning ways completing the double over Bustleholme.
Darlaston boss Andy Parkes included his two signings in his squad handing a debut to Isaac Cooper and a place on the bench for Mark Morgan. Jamie Holder stepped up from the bench and was given his first start in Darlaston colours. Noah Diallo and David Richards were relegated to the bench and Tyrone Clarke O'Connell was not available.
An impeccable minute’s silence was observed by everyone within the ground prior to kick off paying respects to the fallen. The Darlaston players all wore black poppy armbands as a sign of respect.
Darlaston started the game at a tremendous pace debutant Isaac Cooper providing a pinpoint cross for Leon Taylor who provided a well struck finish which entered the net via the underside of the bar in the second minute to give Darlaston a dream start with a 1-0 lead.
Arguably in the 12th minute the visitors were given a let off as goalkeeper Benjamin Holden was a judge to a handle the ball outside of the penalty area. Referee Groves took a lenient approach awarding Darlaston free kick on the edge of the area but chose not to issue any cards.
Darlaston were controlling the play in the midfield areas, pressing the visitors back at every opportunity. Bustleholme responded with two efforts on goal Iain Beavon missing the target in the fourth minute and Chris Brown last season's Division One top scorer and league player of the year forcing home keeper Liam Whittaker into an early save.
Darlaston midfielder Alex Simon forced Bustleholme keeper Ben Holden into his first save of the afternoon on 15 minutes. Further efforts four minutes later from Ryan McAllister which was saved, Luke Charlton was first to the ball his effort was blocked following a lunging block by Beavon and Cooper shot over the bar.
Despite their good start, the home side seemed to drop off the pace of the game, Bustleholme taking full advantage as Chris Brown, Myles Nettleford and Jack Whittall increased the pace of the game their team mates all responded as Bustleholme took a grip of the game wrestling away control from the home team in the closing 20 minutes of the first half. The impressive Whittall regularly found time and space on the ball prompting and probing putting the home defence on the back foot.
A s the pressure mounted Whittall, Brown and the two Nettleford’s all had efforts saved or off target but an equaliser was on the cards and it eventually came in the 42nd minute Chris Brown raced onto a probing ball from Whittall beat McAllister and buried a 20-yard angled shot into the bottom corner. The visitors were now full of confidence and just two minutes later they were in front. Jason Nettleford beat Ryan Jones wide on the right, his cross found the unmarked Whittall who had time and space to plant the ball past Whittaker.
From being comfortable and in control Darlaston found themselves 2-1 down at the break. Time for the Management duo of Parkes and Moore to work their magic once again during the interval.
In the opening minutes of the second half Darlaston forced three corners but the only shot on goal was a Jamie Holder effort from 25 yards.
As the home team began to get a foothold in the game, momentum shifted in their favour, the equaliser coming on 56 minutes. A superb through ball from Luke Charlton split open the visitors defence, Isaac Cooper raced on to the ball beyond the static Bustleholme defence and drove the ball hard and low beyond keeper Holden with ease with a sweet left foot finish.
The game was turned on its head on 58 minutes with the introduction of Daniel Bolzon from the substitutes friend. Bolzon has been absent for several weeks following an injury suffered in the Sikh Hunters game, his rehabilitation has been slow and careful to ensure a full recovery rather than a long term injury.
Bolzon injected pace and quality into the game and his team mates and the home supporters responded to his infectious attitude. Suddenly Darlaston looked dangerous, Bolzon and Taylor upfront became a handful, pin point passes from Charlton and Holder were putting Bustleholme’ s defence on the back foot.
It was only a matter of time before the second half superiority of the home side paid dividends and it was Bolzon who was at the heart of the pressure mounting on the visitors goal. On 74 minutes another Charlton pass found the onrushing Bolzon, his first effort was saved by keeper Holden, but Bolzon was first to respond tapping the loose ball into an empty met to ease the tension of the home players management and supporters.
Four minutes later Bolzon scored his second on 78 minutes, this time Isaac Cooper’s inch perfect cross after a run to the by-line was finished from inside the six-yard box giving the keeper no chance.
New signing Mark Morgan was also introduced to the game after signing from Premier Division Wednesfield late last week, Morgan had at least four efforts in the last few minutes of the match.
Darlaston were having by far their best spell of the game a fine Ryan McAllister right foot curing effort brought a full stretch fingertip save from Benjamin Holden.
Darlaston managed to see out the game and secure the 3 points. It certainly wasn’t easy at times, for 20 minutes or so Bustleholme were on top, Darlaston never really got out of second gear and the performance was patchy and well below the standard they have set for themselves. The introduction of two new quality signings and the return to fitness of Bolzon together with a valuable 3 points ensured the mood of the squad and supporters was much brighter.
Next Saturday sees a massive game, when Darlaston travel to Walshes Meadow Stourport hoping to complete a league double over league leaders Droitwich Spa KO 3.00pm.