Spennymoor Town’s season is over after a thrilling game with Darlington 1883 in the Play-Off Semi-Final that saw Moors come from behind to lead with just twelve minutes left, before two late goals sealed the tie for the home side in front of a near 2,000 crowd.
The first chances were to Darlington. Gary Brown crossed from the byline, Nathan Cartman dummied but Armstrong’s effort was mis hit, and a Cartman shot on the turn was narrowly over from 18 yards, before the game stepped up a level. Andrew Stephenson hit the crossbar after quick footwork in the penalty area, and then Nathan Fisher was off inches off target with the keeper to beat from 18 yards after a quick breakaway by Gavin Cogdon. But deep into injury time Darlington took the lead when Brown got to the byline again and delivered a pinpoint cross for Armstrong to powerfully head home.
Moors keeper Gareth Young had no chance of stopping the diving header, and in the early stages of the second half Armstrong went close again with a shot from distance, But thereafter Moors were on top, Quakers struggling to keep possession. Striker Liam Henderson had a flicked header saved by Jameson, while Fisher was unfortunate with a shot on the turn that drifted narrowly over, but on the hour they got a deserved leveller.
Joe Tait scrambled home after Spennymoor’s fourth corner of the half, awarded after home keeper Peter Jameson fumbled the ball at the previous corner. The keeper made a fine one-handed save from Stephenson, but Quakers couldn’t clear and Tait netted at close-range.
Moors sent on Michael Roberts for Fisher, and the momentum was with Spennymoor especially when Roberts scored with an exquisite finish. His sharp turn on the corner of the penalty area was followed by a weighted finish over Jameson with 14 minutes to go, sparking a thrilling climax.
The onus was on Darlington to respond, so Gray sent on Hatch as Quakers waited to take a corner, their first of the half, and the sub immediately headed home Terry Galbraith’s delivery. After two goals inside three minutes, right-back Kallum Griffiths was inches away from the goal of his life. He turned Adam Mitchell and unleashed a perfectly-hit volley from 40 yards which whacked off the crossbar.
It would have been a remarkable way to win any game, but there was still time for an explosive finish and it came thanks to Dowson’s composure. Armstrong broke down the left and rolled the ball back to the sub, who squeezed a shot under the keeper at the near post.
1 Young, 2 Griffiths, 3 Mason, 4 Dodds, 5 Tait, 6 Johnson, 7 Stephenson (Capper), 8 Henry, 9 Henderson, 10 Fisher (Roberts), 11 Cogdon(Ward).
Subs Not Used: