A piece of outrageous skill and quality secures extra time win for Darlo
By Simon Cox
Darlaston's unbeaten league run continues after a 2-1 win
Following last week’s resounding win at Gornal manager Andy Parkes was forced into making changes once again. Out went Isaac Cooper after his move to Evo Stik side Hednesford Town, Ryan McAllister was injured Daniel Bolzon unavailable and Noah Diallo suspended. Jarrod Grant dropped down to the bench in came Sammy Causton, Ryan Kingdon and David Richards.
A piece of outrageous skill and quality from Tyrone Clarke O'Connell was the difference between the teams as he created a last-minute winner to extend Darlo's winning streak to four games and their unbeaten league run to nine games as they top West Midlands Regional League Division One.
The game started with Darlaston putting Wrens Nest under early pressure. Midfielder Jamie Holder shot wide from distance on 5 minutes, Ryan Kingdon should have given the home side the lead in the 6th minute after receiving a defence splitting pass from Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell but visiting keeper Callum Stokes smothered Kingdon’s right footed effort. Stokes was again on hand in the 9th minute cutting out a dangerous cross from Solomon and making an excellent save from the same player a minute later.
Wrens Nest started to ease their way into the game and in Connor Lawrence and Callum Parker had two players with pace and quality whilst Sam Bratt-Wytton was starting to cause problems at the heart of the Darlaston defence. As the half wore on Wrens Nest started to push on with some good quality football.
The visitors enterprising play was rewarded in the 23rd minute with their first effort on goal. Out on the left Charlie Gregg's left footed looping shot from 25 yards deceived home keeper Liam Whittaker to find the back of the net.
Darlaston responded superbly and were on level terms 7 minutes later. Ryan Kingdon made progress down the right flank cut inside and set up Leon Taylor who slipped the visitors defence to net his 21st league goal of the season, side footing home beyond the advancing keeper Stokes.
Within a minute Wrens Nest had forced Whittaker into a diving save low to his left keeping out a Callum Parker effort.
The remainder of the half became a midfield battle, neither side giving any quarter or creating any chances worthy of note.
The second half started very much the same as the first ended a battle in midfield. As the half progressed home full back Ryan Jones had a 30-yard effort just clear the bar whilst the visitors forced four early corners as the home side could not clear their lines, their only effort on goal was a Parker shot from 12 yards.
On 52 minutes the home fans thought they had taken the lead when Solomon broke clear on the right, beat his defender and rounded the keeper but his 15-yard shot from a difficult angle was cleared off the line by Thomas Rann.
Wrens Nest continued to play some excellent controlled football but lacked a cutting edge and the first half threat from Lawrence and Bratt-Wytton was snuffed out by Luke Charlton and Scott Glasby.
Darlaston top scorer Leon Taylor covered every blade of grass with a tremendous effort for his team mates as he defended corners and kept the visiting central defenders Edward Rann and Lee Salt busy all afternoon. In an effort to change the pace of the game and give the home side a different attacking threat Taylor made way for Ash Evans on 67 minutes with Clarke O'Connell moving into an unaccustomed central attacking role. Evans almost made an immediate impact with a dipping shot over the bar and minutes later having a header saved by keeper Stokes.
Whilst the possession stats will show Wrens Nest having the edge on possession it was generally in midfield areas with little threat on goal, a single Parker effort on goal being there only meaningful effort in the 2nd half. Evans had another shot saved but as the game entered its final stages a draw was on the cards which would have been a fair result and just reward for the impressive visitors.
However, there was to be a final last-minute twist. Darlaston's never say die attitude was evident as they were urged on by a crowd of more than 100 to push forward and grab the winning goal. The players responded superbly and sent the faithful home fans away with a warm glow as a piece of outrageous and sublime skill created the winner in the final minute.
Out on the right flank Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell beat his marker cut inside and from 25 yards produced a rabona cross to deceive the visiting defence, keeper Stokes came out and could not reach the cross leaving Ash Evans to stretch at the far post and slot the ball into an empty net from 3 yards.
This was by no means Darlaston's most flowing performance of the season. Wrens Nest may feel aggrieved at not returning with a point but Darlaston's work rate, never say die attitude and a sublime piece of skill and quality eventually won the day.
Darlaston are without a game next weekend. They return to League action on Saturday 19th January when last season’s Division One Runners up Newport Town tare the visitors to Paycare Ground, KO 2pm.
Midweek on Wednesday evening Darlaston travel to last seasons J.W. Hunt Cup Winners Atherstone to contest a quarter final contest in this years competition, kick off is 7.45 pm and further details wil be posted on the website in the coming days.