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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
11:04 20th March 2012

DARLINGTON 1-1 TOWN - REPORT

Darlington 1
Bowman 86 (pen) Town 1
Fleetwood 90 Mark Tyler and Stuart Fleetwood were the heroes as 10-man Town earned a point in a dramatic finish at Darlington. For the third game running the Hatters had a man sent-off when Janos Kovacs was red-carded for a professional foul with eight minutes left. Four minutes later the hosts took the lead through the penalty spot through Ryan Bowman following Godfrey Poku's foul and at that point the Town's chances of a point looked slim. However, Fleetwood popped up in the 90th-minute to bring the Town level following Jake Woolley's cross and it seemed it would finish all square. But struggling Darlington, without a win in 10 games, were cursing the excellence of Tyler in the fifth minute of stoppage time when he stopped Bowman's penalty to deny them all three points and complete a whirlwind ending to a open and entertaining game. The Town, showing, three changes to the side that lost at York on Saturday with Craig McAllister, Poku and Robbie Willmott all in the starting XI, began brightly. McAllister curled a fine effort from the edge of the area into the hands of home goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on eight minutes after a fine flowing move from the Town involving Adam Watkins and Poku. Alex Lawless saw a shot blocked on 11 minutes as the Town continued to press before the hosts picked up two yellow cards when a couple of over-zealous challenges on Watkins and Lawless earned Drewe Broughton and Neil Wainwright cautions. It was well and truly all the Town as they began to rack up a succession of corners with McAllister and Kovacs both heading over the bar on separate occasions. It appeared that it was only a matter of time before the Hatters made their dominance count with an opener but they had Tyler to thank for two saves in as many minutes to keep the score goalless. On 22 minutes the goalkeeper turned away Aaron Brown's goal-bound free-kick before he somehow got a block on Broughton's close range effort from the resultant corner. Watkins and Willmott swapped flanks midway through the first half and former had a chance to put the Town ahead when Pickford slipped when kicking the ball out of his hands but, from 25 yards and the goal open, the Hatters midfield lofted the ball harmlessly over the crossbar. McAllister had a shot on the turn saved on 41 minutes before the striker had an even better chance to open the scoring on two minutes later when he latched onto a fantastic flick-on by Danny Crow to bear down on goal but just before he was able to get a shot away Pickford was able to pinch the ball from under his feet. Poku's exuberance was a big highlight from the first 45 minutes but he ended the half in the referee's notebook after going in late on Dale Hopson and the midfielder was shown a yellow card. Just like at the start of the first half the Hatters started the second half well and they were twice denied the lead by two saves in the space of two minutes by Pickford. Firstly the home stopper kept out a instinctive header from Kovacs following a left-wing corner won by Willmott. Then the keeper made an even better save when Kovacs, still up in the attack, squared to Watkins who cut inside his marker to fire a firm shot goalwards that Pickford somehow got a glove too to turn the ball away. It was becoming one-way traffic and Pickford again came to Darlo's rescue on 57 minutes when he turned Watkins' shot around the post after the Town midfielder had done brilliantly to spin away from his marker on the edge of the box and get a left-foot shot away. Still the Town pressed, Greg Taylor, against his former club, shooting wide of the target on 67 minutes having raced up-field, before Tyler came to the Town's aid once more when keeping out Ryan Bowman's shot from just inside the area. It was becoming end-to-end stuff as back came the Town, Fleetwood thumping a shot inches the wrong side of the post on 69 minutes. Both sides continued to push forward in search of a winner but the game sparked into life eight minutes from time when Kovacs was shown a straight red card when he hauled down Bowman on the edge of the area. The Town were incensed as the Hungarian trudged off shaking his head when it looked as though Ed Asafu-Adjaye was covering behind. From the free-kick, Tyler clawed away Kris Taylor's curling effort. But the sending off was only beginning of the drama as, four minutes later, buoyed by their man advantage, Darlo went in search of victory and on 86 minutes they took the lead from the spot when Bowman converted from 12 yards after Poku had felled the home forward. At that point, a goal and and a man down, the Town looked dead and buried. But, as was shown on Saturday at York, Brabin's men are made of stern stuff and they duly got an equaliser their play deserved in the final minute. This time Darlington were angered when it seemed Asafu-Adjaye brought down Broughton in the box only for the referee to wave play on. Seconds later, the Town broke down the right and Fleetwood tapped home fellow substitute Jake Woolley's low cross to send the 123 Town supporters into delight. Surely that was that? No. Four minutes into stoppage John McCready went down under a challenge from Poku in the box and referee Wrigglesworth pointed to the spot for the second time. With the Town staring down the barrel at yet another away defeat Tyler was once again the hero, diving to left to keep out Bowman's tame effort, the forward choosing to stick with the same side he scored with previously. Tyler received the congratulations of his team-mates, including the grateful Poku, and after the keeper had punted the ball downfield the referee called time on a breathless encounter. After the handshakes the Hatters players and management went over to salute the loyal supporters in the corner of the sparse Darlington Arena to thank them for their backing at another long midweek trip. While it was only one point that travelled back down the A1 with them, the Hatters again showed their never-say-die attitude - and long may it continue. Next up? The small matter of York City in the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-final. BE THERE. For minute-by-minute analysis click here.  
    Data provided by Press Association

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