Darlaston finish the season on a 20 game unbeaten and now have to wait to see where they finish
By Simon Cox
A difficult final game against a spirited Telford Juniors , played in a howling gale, on a uneven pitch, Darlaston score one in each half to secure the much needed win.
Darlaston finished their long hard season with their unbeaten run of 20 League games intact with a hard-earned win in difficult weather and playing conditions at bottom club Telford Juniors.
Darlaston’s management team were forced into making changes as top scorer Leon Taylor, Bekir Halil, Isaac Cooper and Noah Diallo were all unavailable. Danny Mayne was brought in from the bench to start out wide, Alex Solomon returned to the subs bench after illness, Lucas Hough making his second start since his return from Black Country Rangers.
In a howling swirling gale on a bone hard pitch both sides found it difficult to play controlled football. Both sides played better football when playing against the wind than they did with the wind at their backs.
Playing against the wind in the 6th minute Daniel Bolzon burst beyond the home defence and with only keeper Mitchell Delamere to beat he was brought down on the edge of the box by Joshua Dodd who was shown the red card. Jamie Holder's curling free-kick was comfortably saved by Delamere.
The next 12 minutes saw Darlaston squander 5 clear chances. Danny Mayne hit the post, Bolzon shot wide , Mayne missed a glorious chance when he hit the side netting after a heavy touch took him round keeper Delamere, Bolzon blazed high over the bar when well-placed and Delamere was again in the thick of the action saving Mayne's 8 yard header.
The opening goal came in the 19th minute. Mayne's shot from an Ash Evans hit the legs of Delamere the rebound falling at the feet of Luke Charlton who side stepped a defender to slam home high into the net from 10 yards.
The visitors approach play was decisive and attractive, with chance after chance falling to Bolzon, Clarke-O’Connell, Evans and Mayne but the visitors could not get the all-important second goal which would have eased their nerves. Unfortunately, some poor finishing and excellent defending by a resolute Telford meant the visitors went into the half time break with a slender one goal lead.
Whilst the visitors were dominant in the first half the second half was a much more evenly contested affair with Louis Jones superb at the heart of the Telford defence and Joey Moore and Dave Jones posing much more of an attacking threat for the home side. Darlaston still created the better second half chances. Despite a more evenly contested half the home side's record of just 35 goals in 32 League games was reflected in their lack of a significant goal threat. With a strong wind at their backs Darlaston did not play the conditions well as pass after pass was over hit. By contrast after being on the back foot for much of the first half Telford were much more confident.
Dave Jones had a shot blocked in the 54th minute whilst Darlaston thought they had extended their lead a minute later. Telford’s Louis Jones blocked a Tyrone Clark-O'Connell shot which looped over keeper Delamere, but substitute Kofi Asare saved a certain goal with an acrobatic goal line clearance.
On 60 minutes it was Darlaston who were thankful for a goal line clearance as skipper Scott Glasby headed off the line following Joey Moore's speculative 40-yard effort in a swirling wind.
Telford central defender Louis Jones was commanding winning header after header and tackle after tackle as with his defensive colleague he put his body on the line in fantastic spirit. Midfielder Simon Sarpone worked tirelessly whilst Moore and Dave Jones saw much more of the ball but were restricted to long range efforts by a well organised Darlaston defence.
With the wind at their backs Darlaston were guilty of failing to play the intricate passing football which has served them so well this season. They regularly over hit passes and despite having better passing options Mayne, Holder and O'Connell had several long-range speculative efforts easily saved or too high.
Darlaston sealed the points on 85 minutes. Following a spell of sustained pressure Ash Evans collected a poor clearance and with keeper Delamere off his line, Evans struck a superb 35-yard left foot shot for the visitors 100th League goal of the season.
The win concludes Darlaston's best season for 12 years with numerous records broken since being re-formed 5 years ago.
With their league season concluded Darlaston are currently two points ahead at the top of the table and are guaranteed to finish at least second. The destination of the League title awaiting the outcome of an FA Disciplinary Hearing involving closest rivals Worcester Raiders.
Irrespective of the outcome of the FA Hearing promotion to the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division will be based on Ground Grading rules. The decision on promotion will be decided by the FA’s Leagues Committee with final decisions expected in early June.