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Match Reports

Report: Iron 2-0 Darlington - FA Trophy

18 November 2023

Match Reports

Report: Iron 2-0 Darlington - FA Trophy

18 November 2023

A professional 2-0 victory for the Iron as they ran out comfortable winners against Darlington in the Isuzu FA Trophy.

The Iron were away from Vanarama National league North action for their first Isuzu FA trophy tie of the campaign. Their opponents were to be league strugglers Darlington who had made the trip to Glanford Park once already this campaign, back in August when United emphatically triumphed 4-0.

Iron manager Jimmy Dean made three changes to the side that was defeated 3-1 by King’s Lynn on Tuesday night. Centre-back Max Kouogun came into the side for his first start since returning from injury, while consistently outstanding left-back Tyler Denton dropped to the bench and was hence replaced by Scotsman Michael Kelly. The last change came in the form of the much-anticipated first start for Callum Roberts, despite the summer signing leaving the pitch on a stretcher in midweek.

The Quakers got the encounter underway and following their 8-0 defeat to play-off hopefuls Chorley in midweek, it became immediately apparent that Josh Gowlings’s men were intent on conceding less than that on the day, by placing 10 men behind the ball on all possible occasions.

Darlington’s attempted defensive stability was however sought out within the opening ten minutes. Right-back Ross Barrows collected the ball in an advanced position and without hesitation slid an expertly placed through ball into the feet of Connor Smith who continued his fine goalscoring form this season with a calm finish past goalkeeper Tommy Taylor.

Scunthorpe continued to threaten following the goal and came within inches of doubling their advantage 15 minutes into the tie. Roberts accelerated inside of his marker with the ball in his stride only to be hauled down by a backtracking Quakers defender. Dead ball specialist Jacob Butterfield stood over the ball 25-yards from target, his lifted effort rose above the wall only for the ball to dip over the bar and nestle in the vacant seats behind Taylor’s goal.

Following his missed opportunity, Butterfield’s determination to add to his goal of the season portfolio was soon enforced, as he caught Taylor off guard with a long ranged left-footed effort that magnificently dipped over the former Buxton shot stopper to make the score 2-0 in a half dominated by claret and blue.

With the first period of play coming to an end, Darlington looked for a route back into the tie and nearly found it in spectacular fashion. A long-lofted corner was misjudged by a crowd of bodies allowing the ball to fall to Sunderland academy graduate Andrew Nelson who struck an acrobatic overhead effort that fell just wide of the so far untroubled Ross Fitzsimons’ post.

With just a misplaced Connor Smith free-kick effort to report for the remainder of the first half, referee Nicholas Dunn blew his whistle to summon the break with the Iron leading by two.

As play resumed via Butterfield’s kick off for United, the Quakers approach of damage limitation seemed to be working to great extent as neither side had been able to create any chances of real significance with the closest being a wayward effort from substitute Will Hatfield for the visitors that landed in the rapidly decreasing Darlington faithful.

In what had been a lacklustre second half, Dean dipped into his seven-strong bench with the hope of creating opportunities to expand his sides lead. Danny Whitehall was replaced by versatile frontman Danny Elliott, which was soon followed by Roberts exiting the field of play for the technically gifted Cameron Wilson. 

Wilson almost made an instant impact following his introduction to the almost 2,000 in attendance. He played a delicate one-two with Butterfield allowing him to drive into an array of vacant space down the right flank, before expertly crossing the ball to the feet Barrows who directed his weak-footed strike wide of the target.

With 10 minutes of action still to be played, Darlington looked to inject some form of life back into the fixture with a flurry of chances that began with forward Jonny Ngandu. He ran onto a loose ball in the area and powered a shot towards goal, but an outstretched leg of Will Evans batted the ball away.

Moments later, Ngandu had Fitzsimons worried once more after a driven shot from distance flew towards the sanction although it skimmed the post and went behind for a goal kick. This would be the encounters last action, in a game that saw the Iron win their first FA Trophy game and advance to the third round that is due to be played in mid-December.

IRON: Fitzsimons, Kelly (Denton, 45), Kouogun, Evans, Clunan, Roberts (Wilson, 74), Butterfield, Scales, Smith, Barrows, Whitehall (Elliott, 58).

IRON SUBS: Chapman, Boyce, Shrimpton, Law.

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