Adam Mitchell capped a great fightback by Quakers with his first goal of the season to give them the points against Stockport County at Heritage Park tonight.
Quakers were forced to reshuffle because of an injury to Kevin Burgess, so Terry Galbraith moved across to centre half from left back and Jordan Watson came in at left back.
Stockport nearly took advantage in the first half, but just as Quakers have done this season missed some good chances when they were on top. And Quakers made them pay with goals by mark Beck and Adam Mitchell.
Quakers had a chance in the first minute. Terry Galbraith, playing at centre half launched the ball forward and Hardy made a good run into the box where he set up Tom Portas, whose shot was blocked.
Despite their new defence, Quakers didn’t allow Stockport any real openings in the early exchanges, with Watson and Hunter both making confident interceptions. But they were nearly exposed when Lloyd got to the bye line, and Peter Jameson blocked a shot from Jimmy Ball with his feet.
Stockport had a half chance on 18 minutes when a long clearance by Stockport keeper Ben Hinchcliffe wasn’t properly dealt with by the Darlington defence, and John Marsden tried a left foot shot from 30 yards that went well wide.
But Stockport took the lead on 20 minutes when a long ball over the Darlington defence forced Galbraith to turn and try and head the ball back to Jameson, but he didn’t get enough power behind his header, Ball intercepted and rolled the ball into the net.
Quakers nearly equalised straight away, when Thompson hit a piledriver from 25 yards that struck the bar, and when Liam Marrs put the ball back into the box, Mark Beck sidefooted over.
It was nearly 2-0 when Danny Lloyd made a good run up the left and forced Jameson to palm away his left foot shot.
Quakers had a chance on 26 minutes when Thompson found space to cross from the left towards the far post, where Beck couldn’t quite get enough behind his header and Hinchcliffe saved.
Quakers nearly got caught on the break on 29 minutes when Sam Minihan got round the back of the Darlington defence on the right, pulled the ball back for Ball on the penalty spot, and even though the Stockport player mishit his shot, the ball looped up in the air and Jameson had to tip the ball over the bar.
And Quakers were exposed again when Josh Amis burst away and played the ball inside to Lloyd, who managed to beat Jameson, but Marrs appeared from nowhere and somehow managed to hook the ball off the line.
But Quakers bounced back, and Hardy beat a defender and took on two more before hitting a right foot shot that Hinchcliffe saved.
Quakers though had a chance on 40 minutes when Beck and Thompson combined well to set up Adam Mitchell, who fired over the top.
Quakers survived, and levelled on 42 minutes. Marrs found Mitchell on the right, and the right winger crossed perfectly into the middle for Beck to beat Hinchcliffe with a stooping header from eight yards.
Half time 1-1
Quakers started the second half with a mishit shot by Thompson that went wide of the left hand post, then manager Martin Gray sent on Nathan Cartman in place of Hardy on 50 minutes.
Quakers had a let off when Jordan Watson completely miscued a clearing header that went straight to Michael Clarke, whose low left foot shot was pushed away by Jameson, and Lloyd, from an acute angle, fired into the side netting.
Quakers had a half chance when Watson headed a clearance back into the Stockport penalty area for Cartman, whose first time volley went wide.
The tempo of the game increased with Quakers having more of the game, and they took the lead on 65 minutes, when Thompson and Beck combined well inside the penalty area, and Thompson rolled the ball back for Mitchell to sidefoot into the roof of the net.
But Stockport nearly levelled straight away when Lewis Montrose fired powerfully towards goal, Jameson palmed the ball upwards, but it dropped on to the bar, and then back into the grateful hands of the keeper.
And two minutes later, long range shot by sub Craig Carney flew just wide of the left hand post.
There was a let off with eight minutes left when the bal laws crossed from the left for Carney, at the far post, to head narrowly wide.
But Quakers finished off a good spell of possession when sub Amar Purewal found Cartman with his back to goal, and he turned quickly and curled a shot against the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
There was a scare for Quakers in stoppage time when Stockport won a corner and threw everybody into the box, but Jameson managed to palm the ball away.
Final score Darlington 2 Stockport County 1
There was a great touch by Stockport manager Jim Gannon, who waited by the side of the pitch after his side had left the field to shake the hand of every Darlington player.
Jameson, Marrs, Galbraith, Turnbull, Watson, Hunter, Thompson (sub Purewal 78), Portas (sub Nowakowski 71), Beck, Hardy (sub Cartman 50), Mitchell
Subs: Bell, Scott
Hinchcliffe, Ross, Duxbury, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Ball, Amis 9sub Spencer 65), Marsden (sub Carney 65), Lloyd (sub Odejayi 65)
Subs: Ormson, Rule
Referee: Billy Khatib (Teesside)