Darlington 1, Swansea City 3

For a man who had just been reminded what defeat tastes like, Dave Penney was in a jovial mood on Saturday night.

For a man who had just been reminded what defeat tastes like, Dave Penney was in a jovial mood on Saturday night.

Although his Darlington side had been knocked out of the FA Cup, their performance against League One promotion-chasers Swansea City showed they are only a bit of fine-tuning away from a very good team.

He said: "We gave as good as we got against a top team in the division above so I was pleased. It's just silly mistakes cost us."

At two minutes past three, a seventh straight win looked on the cards for Darlington.

Dennis Lawrence gifted Simon Johnson the ball and the striker burst through only to be body-checked by Kevin Austin.

But referee Jon Moss played on seeing Martin Smith pouncing on the loose ball.

Smith put it under the on-rushing Willy Gueret and it looked like more of the same for Penney, whose last defeat came as Doncaster Rovers manager against Swansea on August 19.

Opposing manager Kenny Jackett saw the writing on the wall and acted after 13 minutes.

Former Sunderland, Hartlepool and on-loan Darlington winger Thomas Butler was withdrawn to his obvious disgust as Swansea matched their hosts' 4-4-2.

It paid off within two minutes, Lee Trundle crossing from the right to Leon Britton. Unmarked at the far post he cooly found the top right corner.

"It all came from our corner," said Penney, who will return to Belle Vue in January after being drawn against his old club in the Johnstone's Paints Trophy northern semi-final.

"Trundle's only got one foot (his left), so keep him on his bad one. We let him come in, open the game up and put a good ball in."

Darlington handled the hero well, restricting him to a second-half run past Patrick Collins and Craig James which saw him blaze over and good work in the 79th-minute wasted when Andy Robinson did likewise.

Even back level Jackett was not happy, making a second substitution nine minutes before the interval.

By then Trundle had almost punished Sam Russell's amateur dramatics.

The goalkeeper tackled substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa on the edge of his area and when a throw-in was given, hobbled slowly back to his goal. An impatient Trundle demanded a quick throw and chipped just wide.

The Quakers had chances too, Neil Wainwright's 32nd-minute blast seemingly going into the top right-hand corner until swerving wide at the last second, and Micky Cummins smashing a volley against the bar.

They should have trailed at the break after more far-post negligence but when Britton crossed from the right Robinson headed into the side netting.

He soon made amends. James dwelt on the ball and when Russell failed to hold Darren Pratley's shot, Robinson reacted first.

The hosts looked increasingly dangerous down the left but Julian Joachim and Barry Conlon failed to make contact with crosses while Alun Armstrong disappointingly struck one at Guerat in the 92nd minute.

By then Swansea had claimed a third, left-back Austin feeding Akinfenwa, whose shot went in off the upright.

Without a number of defenders, including the on-loan Mark Albrighton, Darlington lacked a commanding centre-back alongside Collins.

When pressed on whether he was looking for defensive reinforcements, Penney would only say: "We'll strengthen the squad in January. Most teams will.

"The defending had been excellent until Saturday but the first two goals were awful."


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