Darlaston complete season double over League leaders
By Simon Cox
Yesterday, Darlaston beat the League leaders for the second time this season, to hopefully reignite their season
In the glorious surroundings of Stourport on Severn Darlaston and league leaders Droitwich Spa provided a superb spectacle of West Midlands League football in a pulsating game between two sides who played some excellent football in fine spirit.
Darlo boss Andy Parkes had a fully fit squad to select from, the only absentee being midfielder Alex Solomon who was unavailable. Daniel Bolzon returned to the starting line-up after recovering from injury replacing the missing Solomon.
After a few lack lustre performances over, recent weeks the visitors got off to the worst possible start conceding a 2nd minute goal to 13 goal striker James Lemon, who got behind the visitor’s defence to drive the ball beyond keeper Liam Whittaker from just outside the penalty area.
Darlaston responded superbly and were on level terms four minutes later. A measured Ryan Jones pass sliced open the home defence for Bolzon to calmly slot the ball beyond Matt Oliver in the Droitwich goal.
For the remainder of the half both teams played some excellent football with Darlaston generally having the upper hand. The goal galvanised Darlaston, whose midfield took the game by the scruff of the neck, defender Scott Glasby heading over from two corners, meanwhile Droitwich’s Jack Davies and Dan Cottrill had efforts on the visitor’s goal which were comfortably saved by Whittaker.
Visiting centre forward Leon Taylor was proving a real handful for the Droitwich central defensive pairing whilst the impressive James Lemon kept Ryan McAllister and Scott Glasby busy at the heart of the Darlo defence.
After a period of pressure on the home defence, Darlaston missed a glorious chance to take the lead from the penalty spot on 23 minutes. Luke Charlton was brought crashing to the ground by Curtis Townley who picked up a yellow card for his troubles. Midfielder Ant Follows stepped up to take the spot kick, his well struck right footed shot was superbly saved by Matt Oliver keeping the scores level at 1-1.
The game was really easy on the eye as both sides continued to play quality football in the right spirit.
On the half hour mark Darlaston came within inches of going in front. Leon Taylor was fouled by centre half Mike Seeley 45 yards from goal. A piece of brilliant quick thinking by Isaac Cooper noticing Droitwich keeper Oliver was off his line resulted in the young midfielder shooting from 45 yards but unfortunately his superb quick thinking and skill did not result in a goal, his effort clearing the bar by a matter of inches with Oliver well beaten.
The home side had a great chance to go in front in the 34th minute, a misplaced pass out of defence was met by Ben Tilbury, whose pass found James Lemon a superb last ditch tackle by Sam Causton snubbed out the danger.
Ant Follows and Isaac Cooper both failed to hit the target before another Jamie Holder 60-yard inch perfect pass fell at the feet of Cooper who cut inside and unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot which drifted inches wide of the far post.
Both teams entered the half-time interval to applause from both sets of supporters, a great first half of committed football, played at a high tempo, Darlaston had the lion’s share of the possession, and instead of failing in the final third, they looked dangerous and purposeful every time they attacked.
Whilst Darlaston had the better of the first half the second half was a more even affair with the home team having the edge. On 48 minutes a great piece of skill from Ben Tilbury a recent signing from Wolves Casuals nearly gave the home side the lead once again but keeper Whittaker was equal to his effort with a fine one handed save.
The home side retook the lead in the 51st minute, great work wide on Droitwich’s right-hand side by the impressive Jack Davies his cross found the lethal James Lemon who headed home under pressure to double his goal scoring tally for the afternoon.
Droitwich were enjoying a good spell of pressure, Jack Davies missing a difficult chance his effort shaving the post, a let off for Darlaston.
The scores were level once again in the 57th minute. A long ball from Darlaston’s deep midfield went in behind the home defence, a foot race between Leon Taylor and Andy Crowther over 30 yards. Taylor was second favourite to get to the ball but his impressive work rate and tenacity was rewarded as he blocked an attempted clearance by Oliver, before setting up Daniel Bolzon to score from 10 yards dispatching the ball with ease. Bolzon owes his goal to Taylor’s never say attitude and willingness to chase lost causes.
The home side missed a guilt edged chance on 63 minutes. A Dan Cottrill snapshot from outside the area was superbly saved at full stretch by Whittaker only to fall to Tilbury, who miscued his left footed strike wide of the upright much to Darlaston’s relief.
As the half progressed Darlaston regained their composure and started to assert themselves again repelling the home side's pressure. efforts from Crisp and Cottrill were dealt with easily by keeper Whittaker.
Luke Charlton and Isaac Cooper both missed chances before Taylor once again chased a lost cause which resulted in an 82nd minute Darlaston corner. The sweet left foot of Isaac Cooper found the unmarked Luke Charlton at the near post, whose superb deft header found the net giving the visitors the lead for the first time in the game.
Despite playing six minutes of added time the visitors held out for a thoroughly deserved win against top quality opposition.
The final whistle was greeted with joy by the Darlaston team, management and supporters. An outstanding game of football played in the right spirit and way, very much the same as the first meeting between the two sides on Bank Holiday weekend. A fantastic advert for West Midlands (Regional) League Football, both teams gave no quarter, tackles were hard and fair, not a bad word was said by anyone.
The win takes Darlaston into second spot. They will be looking to build on the win as they travel to Brinsford Lane Coven on Saturday where Old Wulfrunians will be the opposition KO 3.00pm.