Darlaston's unbeaten run continues with a flattering away win at Bromyard
By Simon Cox
After a poor first half, a much better second half performance produces another 3 points
Darlaston ensured they entered the Christmas period top of the table following a convincing second half performance in deepest Herefordshire.
Manager Andy Parkes was forced into making three changes from the team that beat Wellington the previous week, Daniel Bolzon was unavailable after returning home to Italy, Noah Diallo was suspended, and Ash Evans was unavailable. Tyrone Clarke O'Connell , Sam Causton and Jarrod Grant all returning to the starting line-up.
The visitors made a brisk start and took the lead on 3 minutes following an excellent three man move involving Clarke O’Connell, Grant and top scorer Leon Taylor. Clarke O'Connell crossed to Taylor who controlled the ball, laid it off to Grant who beat his defender to send a perfect cross into the penalty area for Taylor to out jump everyone to head home beyond keeper Alex Rhodes.
Darlaston continued to exert pressure with further efforts from Clarke-O’Connell saved by Rhodes and an Alex Solomon shot from distance which just cleared the bar.
Bromyard responded with two long range efforts from Nathan Myers and Matt Middleton both saved by Liam Whittaker and Nathan Myers heading wide.
Isaac Cooper and Grant both created chances but despite their early pressure the visitors could not add to their lead and the home side started to get a foot hold in the game with midfielder Ryan Glenister and Jake Holylee both looking dangerous as Bromyard prompted and probed in an effort to force an equaliser.
Darlaston helped them along the way as misplaced passes, lack of movement were punished as attack after attack broke down and Bromyard started to gain confidence with some excellent midfield and forward play. Their determination finally paid off on 23 minutes courtesy of a rare mistake by Luke Charlton. With no obvious danger Charlton under hit a back pass to keeper Liam Whittaker, Jake Holylee pounced on the mistake and despite a desperate attempt by Whittaker to retrieve the situation, Holylee stroked the ball under the advancing keeper for a deserved equaliser.
Despite not being at their best Darlaston still had chances to retake the lead. Alex Solomon and cooper both had chances blocked Charlton hit the bar and Taylor had an effort cleared off the line by Glenister. The impressive Holylee set up Cameron green for Bromyard but the defender shot wide.
The Darlaston management team would have been upset with their sides first half performance and had much to put right during the half time interval. Surely the fans that have travelled a long way would be rewarded with a better second half performance.
The second half was a more one-sided affair with Darlaston asserting their authority and playing some attacking excellent football. A Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell right footed shot tested keeper Alex Rhodes and a rare Bromyard attack down the saw Holylee's cross flash across the face of goal. Alex Solomon produced another fine strike from distance only kept out by a full stretch diving Rhodes whilst on 52 minutes an in swinging free kick from Isaac Cooper was clawed away by the now busy Rhodes.
Darlaston’s pressure was rewarded in the 64th minute, Cooper's corner was flicked on by Solomon and Luke Charlton was on hand to atone his earlier error, by stooping low to head home from 6 yards beyond two defenders on the goal line. Rhodes came to the rescue once again another fine save from Jamie Holders curling free kick after Leon Taylor had been fouled by Cameron Green just outside Bromyard’s area.
Despite their second half dominance Darlaston switched off for a moment on 70 minutes and the home side were denied an equaliser, Charlton with a superb clearing header off the line after a defensive mistake left Casey Collins to cross for Holylee who should have scored, but his shot was superbly cleared by Charlton on the goal line making sure his side maintained their lead.
As Darlaston ramped up the pressure Clarke O'Connell and Solomon both brought saves before the visitors extended their lead on 80 minutes, Isaac Cooper was the creator , an electric turn of pace saw him ghost past two defenders his cross could only be parried by Bromyard’s keeper into the path of Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell at the far post who drove home from an acute angle from 8 yards.
Just four minutes later Leon Taylor made it four with his second goal of the game. Taylor had proved a handful to the Bromyard defence all the game and for the umpteenth time chased down a lost cause. Some 10 yards out keeper Alex Rhodes tried to dribble out following a back pass, Taylor out muscled the keeper winning possession before cutting in side to side foot the ball into the empty net.
Darlaston were not finished yet and on 91 minutes Isaac Cooper was sent crashing to the ground by Joe Donkin in the penalty area. Copper stepped up to score the visitors fifth from the resulting spot kick.
In 11 minutes of added time teenage substitute Adonijah Allen harassed central defender Cameron Green into a mistake 30 yards out and broke clear looking to add a sixth goal, but the referee brought the play back adjudging the youngster had fouled Green.
In a rare visitors attack Darlaston keeper Liam Whittaker was called into action in the fifth minute of added time producing a fine full stretch save from a Liam Hodges header.
The win keeps Darlaston at the top of table with 22 points out of the last 24. This Saturday they are away again for the sixth time in 7 weeks with the short trip to Garden Walk the home of Gornal Athletic kick off 3.00 pm