HALLMARK SECURITY LEAGUE
AFC DARWEN 2 HANLEY TOWN 5
A poor first half defensive play plus some dubious offside decisions that went against the home side meant that Darwen had lost this match before half time.
The game was less than two minutes old when Hanley took the lead. A cross into the box wasn’t cleared properly with full back Mackenzie Faulkner picking up the loose ball to stub a shot that trickled into the bottom corner.
On eight minutes, Darwen keeper Steven James managed to push away a volley from Daniel Cope, but a minute later the visitors went two up as Cope, looking suspiciously offside, found himself clear. James darted off his line a bit too late allowing the striker to comfortably hit home.
With just over a quarter of the game gone, a Hanley corner was headed towards goal by central defender Joshua Thorpe. Steven James got both hands to the ball but couldn’t prevent it entering the net.
Ten minutes later Hanley’s Michael Conlon picked the ball up on the halfway line, went through three defenders, and although keeper James forced him to one side, he still got a shot off which crashed into the side netting. The fourth goal arrived on the half hour. Darwen defenders failed to stop a ball over the top and Cope was left in the clear to race to the edge of the area and fire past the helpless James.
With ten minutes to go, a Darwen corner was cleared upfield. A miscue off a home defender’s boot fell into the path of Conlon again, but as before, Steven James ushered him sideways, and the shot went across goal and out for a goal kick.
James came to Darwen’s rescue when he managed to get fingers on a goal bound strike from Oliver Mellor. But from the resultant corner, another Darwen miskick presented the ball to Mellor to slot home.
With two minutes to go, a Darwen goal kick was headed back from the halfway line. Conlon pounced on the ball and put a drive on target, but Steven James again managed to push the ball away and prevent a certain goal.
Half Time: AFC Darwen 0 Hanley Town 5
Four minutes into the restart and it looked like number six for the visitors as another defensive miscue left Cope clear. James rushed from goal and managed to rob the Hanley striker before more damage was done.
After this, the home side finally started to gain momentum, as an Alex Ralph shot whizzed past the post, and within the first quarter Darwen had pulled a goal back. Hanley keeper Dane Jackson, who up to this point had had little to do, tried to interplay with a defender. Luke Cassidy rushed in to put pressure on, gained the ball, and slid it into the net.
There was major blow for Darwen two minutes later. Alex Ralph had just passed a ball back when he was felled after the ball had gone by Hanley defender Faulkner. Unfortunately, the Darwen forward retaliated to the tackle for which he was shown a red card by referee Peter Shacklady. Faulkner escaped without any punishment.
Ten man Darwen carried on and halfway through the second period Dane Jackson was forced to save a Luke Cassidy effort with his legs.
Two minutes later Steve James had to make a double save to keep out Andrew Nicholls. Then Jonathan Sheldon in the clear hit his shot straight at James and put the rebound over the bar.
The game ebbed and flowed with chances for both sides but it was Darwen who got the final goal with five minuted to go, as Martin Allen got up to a cross from Jamie Edwards to powerfully head home.
The visitors came close to another goal in the last minute but resolute defending stopped several attempts by Hanley to walk the ball into the net.
Full Time: AFC Darwen 2 Hanley Town 5
REFEREE: Peter Shacklady
ASSISTANTS: Steven Holden, John Dillnott
GOALS AND TIMES:
Hanley Town: Faulkner (20), Cope (9, 30), Thorpe (17), Mellor (36)
AFC Darwen: Cassidy (59), Allen (85)
OPPONENTS CHOICE AS MAN OF THE MATCH:
Hanley Town: Jonathan Sheldon
AFC Darwen: Steven James
RED CARDS: Ralph (AFC Darwen)
1 Dane Jackson
2 Mackenzie Faulkner
3 Joshua Bristow
4 Douglas Price
5 Joshua Thorpe
6 Martin Stanyer
7 Andrew Nicholls
8 Oliver Mellor
9 Daniel Cope
10 Michael Conlon
11 Jonathan Sheldon
12 Theo Stair
14 Ben Blowers (replaced Bristow, 76 minutes)
15 Charles Goldstraw (replaced Faulkner, 63 minutes)
16 Thomas Ashton
17 Jamie Skellern (replaced Nicholls, 73 minutes)
1 Steven James
2 Anthony Hodges
3 Seydou Bamba
4 Jamie Edwards
5 Adam Douglas
6 Kiel Lonsdale (Capt.)
7 Sidi Fofana
8 Mark Sharples
9 Matthew Allen
10 Mark McKay
11 Callum Hoctor
12 Alex Ralph (replaced Fofana, 46 minutes)
14 Lee Turner
15 Luke Cassidy(replaced McKay, 32 minutes)
16 Jordan Scott (replaced Douglas, 46 minutes)