Reece Styche’s 12th goal of the season gave Quakers the points and ensured safety from relegation.
The bustling striker’s goal came courtesy of a clanger by home keeper Lloyd Allinson, but not many would disagree that Quakers deserved to win, considering the number of chances that they created and missed, especailly in the first half. It was definitely a much-improved performance on last week’s defeat against Boston.
FC United first to threaten on 4 minutes with a free kick from the left, that was aimed to the far post, but Reece Styche got the ball away.
Josh Gillies then tried to play a ball through the middle for David Syers to put him clear, but Scott Kay just managed to intercept.
FC won a free kick on 11 minutes just outside the Darlington box for a foul on Luke Higham, but Lindfield hoisted the ball high over the top.
Quakers missed a great chance to take the lead on 14 minutes when Syers won possession just outside the box and sent Styche one-on-one against Allinson, but the keeper just managed to block his shot with his legs.
And Quakers had another chance when Phil Turnbull found Styche in the inside right position, and the striker cut into the box and fired just over with his right foot.
Quakers had a half chance on 22 minutes when Thompson crossed from the right into the box, and Styche just failed to get good contact on the ball in the middle, and when he set up Gillies, the midfielder’s cross was blocked.
In Quakers’ next attack, Joe Wheatley found space 25 yards out and struck a low shot that Allinson saved at full stretch down to his left.
FC’s Steve Irwin then had their first shot on target that Pears saved, before Quakers took the lead on 25 minutes.
There was a good build up down the right, which ended with Thompson crossing perfectly for Josh Gillies to come in at the far post and head past the keeper for his 8th of the season.
It was nearly 2-0 on 32 minutes. Gillies swung a corner over from the right, Heaton nodded the ball down for Styche to have a toe poke blocked, and Heaton’s follow up was stopped by a defender a couple of yards out.
A great chance went begging on 35 minutes when Thompson won possession just outside the box, squared the ball for Syers who in turn helped it on to Styche, but the striker’s shot was blocked.
And in a great breakaway by Heaton from an FC corner on 36 minutes, Styche got away down the right, and his inside ball was inches ahead of Gillies.
Another chance came along on 40 minutes when, with his back to goal, Syers set up Thompson, whose right foot shot from the edge of the box was palmed away by Allinson.
Quakers were made to pay for those missed chances on 45 minutes. A great last ditch tackle by Terry Galbraith stopped Lindfield from scoring a few yards out at the expense of a corner.
The corner came in from the Darlington right, and Scott Kay headed in from six yards. 1-1. It was tough luck on Quakers after creating most of the chances in the first half.
Half time 1-1
Quakers’ first attack of the second half saw Gillies wriggle his way past two defenders on the left, and from the corner of the box hit a low shot straight at Allinson.
Then Syers found space on the edge of the box, but mishit his shot wide.
On 57 minutes Thompson and Gillies then contrived to create an opening for Wheatley ten yards out, but he couldn’t get over the ball and volleyed wide.
Darlo sub 59 minutes, Portas for Trotman
Quakers got a free kick on 59 minutes that Gillies floated to the far post for Styche to head goalwards, and Allinson saved at full length. It looked as if a goal would never come — but the breakthrough came a few minutes later.
Quakers went 2-1 up on 64 minutes thanks to a clanger by the home keeper. Thompson hit a long ball forward, aimed for Styche, the ball went over the heads of Styche and the centre half and bounced in front of Allinson, who had come out of his box. The keeper completely misjudged the bounce, the ball went over him, and all Styche had to do was to follow the ball into the net for his 12th goal of the season.
It was nearly 3-1 for Quakers when Thompson ran into the box and set up Syers, who struck the side netting from an acute angle.
FC replied with a good run by Higham, who set up Tattum to shoot tamely into the side netting.
Roared on by their fans, FC put Quakers under pressure from a free kick and then a corner, which Pears confidently palmed away, and then sub Greaves curled a right foot shot wide of the post from the corner of the box.
At the other end, Styche was pulled down, and Galbraith floated the free kick wide.
Darlo’s second sub Saunders came on for Styche on 85 minutes.
It was nearly 3-1 in the last minute of the 90. Gillies spotted Wheatley running unmarked into the box from a corner, picked him out, Wheatley volleyed towards the bottom corner, but the ball hit the post and bounced back into the relieved keeper’s hands.
FC had a chance in the first minute of stoppage time, when Greaves headed a free kick wide as Quakers were trying to put Collins on as sub.
Collins came on for Gillies in 90+1, but Quakers held on comfortably after that for their fourth away win of the season.
FC United 1 Darlington 2
Pears: Trotman (sub Portas 58), Heaton, Galbraith, O’Hanlon; Turnbull, Wheatley, Thompson, Syers, Gillies (sub Collins 90+1); Styche (sub Saunders 85)
Subs: Bancroft, Caton
Booking: Syers, O’Hanlon, Wheatley, Galbraith, Turnbull
Allinson, Senior, Higham, Kay, Fagbola, Baird, Glynn, Irwin (sub Simoes 84), McCarthy, Tattum (Sub Greaves 72), Lindfield
Subs: Racchi, Gilchrist, Basso
Booking: Kay, McCarthy