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MATCH REPORT Curzon leave it late to claim maximum points against Darlington
Monday 2nd October 2017 @ 12:33 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

National League North

Curzon Ashton 1-0 Darlington

Curzon entertained Darlington who lay just outside the play off places, Curzon with a long list of injuries lost Andreas Bianga during the warm up with a twisted ankle & Matthew Crothers stepped in from the bench.

The first goal scoring opportunity fell to Mark Beck for Darlington as he rose at the back post to meet a cross from the right but his connection was all wrong & he scuffed his header wide.

Curzon’s first threat came on 15 minutes after Chris Rowney found James Baillie out on the left, his deep cross to the far post was met by Ben Wharton, but nobody could get on the end of the his header which he put back across the front of goal.

On 18 minutes Darlington’s keeper Adam Bartlett dropped the ball after it was in his hands, Wharton was quickly onto it & Bartlett blatantly tripped Wharton inside the box but referee Aaron Jackson pointed for a Curzon corner to everyone’s dismay.

Darlington’s Stephen Thompson impressed the crowd with a diving header on 25 minutes but luckily for Curzon it went wide as Darling started to up the pace of the game, Curzon’s Steve Howson had to be on his toes a minute later to clear a low cross into the box from the right.

With 30 minutes gone Curzon were losing their way a little as Darlington were being over the top in their challenges which Referee Jackson just waved away, Curzon then losing the rhythm found themselves defending in numbers as Darlington pushed forward.

The hosts looking for the break to get a foothold back into the game came close on 37 minutes when Richard Baker found space just outside the box, but Wharton wasn’t alive to see Baker’s deft pass into the box, meant for him.

On 44 minutes Darlington thought they were going in at half time one goal to the good, Thompson breaking free could only blast his shot over the bar before being flagged for offside, but Curzon should have done better as from the resulting free kick Joe Guest & Max Leonard combined well to offer Baker a great chance from the penalty spot but like Thompson he shot high over the crossbar.

Darlington came out on the front foot in the second half forcing four corners in the first five minutes as they went searching for the goal that the game needed but Curzon defended well winning each corner that came in, Howson winning the most important one after the giant of a striker Beck was found at the back post with Howson just beating him to the ball.

Baillie launched Curzon’s first real threat of the second half on 55 minutes after getting the down the right & delivering a teasing ball into the box but the lack of movement from Curzon front two saw Bartlett collect with ease.

Darlington replaced the impressive Thompson with Curzon old boy Nathan Cartman & Curzon replaced Crothers with Tyrell McKenzie & changing from 4-3-3 to a 4-5-1 formation, this started to see Curzon create chances mainly coming from the left through stand-in captain Guest & Paul Marshall but the final ball was still wanting.

On 79 minutes Curzon welcomed back Luke Clarke for his first start of the season & the game started to liven up with both side pushing hard for the winning goal but both sets of defences were holding strong.

On 86 minutes Leonard set Baker free & with a clever turn he went past his marker but could only shoot wide of Bartlett’s goal & then 30 seconds later Baker again this time inside the box could only hit his shot straight at Bartlett.

As the game was entering its dying stages, McKenzie produced a piece of brilliance from outside the box to give Curzon a late lead.

Receiving a pass from Leonard, McKenzie took a few touches and curled in a left footed effort over Bartlett into the top left hand corner with two minutes of the 90 minutes remaining.

The result extended Cursor’s unbeaten run to six games.

By Dave Jones