It was a night of firsts for the Magpies in the north east as Darlington moved two points clear at the top of the National League North. A goal either side of half time by Man of the Match Terry Galbraith sealed all three points for the home side.
It was a game which Chorley lost for the first time since the start of the campaign and in which they were to concede for the first time since the opening day of the season.
It is perhaps a scoreline which flattered the Quakers at their temporary home at Heritage Park in Bishop Auckland. The Magpies saw the earliest of the action with a surging run by Carver down the left flank, finding his way behind the Darlington defence but Burgess managed to clear the ball from the near post.
Challoner was the next to test the keeper as he made his way into the box, but Jameson was able to block the shot with his feet. A resulting corner found Leather’s head which was duly saved by bar, having beaten the keeper.
Just three minutes later, Gonzales had a piece of the action as his clever cross from the right found an unmarked O’Keefe, but his shot was poked just to the right hand side of Jameson’s goal.
Darlington found themselves ahead in the 14th minute, against the run of play when the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Hardy, making a run into the box was tripped by Charnock and the penalty was awarded. Up stepped Galbraith who scored his fourth goal – and third penalty - of the season by slotting home, despite Ashton diving in the right direction.
The home crowd thought they had another shout for a penalty on 25 minutes as Beck tumbled in the Chorley box, however the referee saw differently, having judged this was a dive.
Still Chorley pressed on, wearing their all blue kit for the first time this season, and looked the more dangerous side. On the half hour, a free kick by Jarvis found Charnock, however the resulting shot sailed just wide of the post.
In the last major action of the first half, Jameson was called into action again as he made a one handed save from Carver who beat Marrs to the ball.
Despite being one goal to the good, Darlington were probably feeling relieved to hear the half time whistle.
The home side came out fighting in the second half and it was only two minutes after the whistle that Galbraith was to complete his brace, and double Darlington’s lead. An inswinging corner from Gillies found the defender on the far post, and his header found the roof of the net.
Despite his team’s dominance, Matt Jansen made two rapid changes to find a way to reduce the deficit. Jarvis was substituted for Beesley on 55 minutes and Walker came on for O’Keefe ten minutes later.
Leather was shown a yellow card on 55 minutes, despite the calls for a red from the home crowd. He had been judged to deliberately obstruct Hardy, who was surging in on goal.
Walker showed his class and almost assisted Gonzales to a goal when he directed the ball into the six yard box, but the towering forward could not convert.
Azam replaced Challoner on the 74th minute and injected some pace and trickery up the right wing, but the Quakers, sensing all three points, and reaching the summit of the league just a few months after achieving promotion, were happy to shut up shop and ride out the victory.
Despite the scoreline and the first loss of the season, the team should find heart from their performance – a number of Quakers fans have tweeted saying that we are the best side they’ve played this season, and that we outplayed them for much of the game.
So it’s on the road again for our next game as we face Worcester City away this Saturday – kick off 3pm
TEAM 1 Ashton, 2 Challoner, 3 Jarvis, 4 Charnock, 5 Leather, 6 Jordan, 7 Cottrell, 8 Whitham,9 Carver, 10 Gonzales, 11 O’Keefe
SUBS 12 Teague, 14 Beesley, 15 Walker, 16 Blakeman, 17 Azam