Kettering Town 1
DARLINGTON’S traumatic season ended with their first win since December – and if it proves to be the club’s last game at The Arena then at least it was one to remember for the right reasons.
Ryan Bowman scored twice to take his tally for the season into double figures as Quakers finished the campaign third from bottom of the Blue Square Premier League.
Unless a deal can this week be agreed with major creditor Raj Singh, the club’s ex-chairman, then the club, in administration since January, is likely to be reformed and begin again several divisions lower down.
Whatever happens there will be wholesale changes on the playing front, with most if not all of the current side likely to have played their last game for the club.
The players embraced and wished each other well at a supporters’ function after Saturday’s game, in which every player was applauded by fans for their commitment.
Manager Craig Liddle, who looks certain to move on this summer, said: “I’m chuffed to bits for the players that they finished the season with a win. They deserve it after a difficult time.
“Nobody knows where the club will be next season. It’s a farewell for a lot of people and the lads deserved the send off that the fans gave them. We have players who are much better than the level the club will be at next season.
“They can have a long future in the game. Good luck to them. I won’t single players out because they all deserve credit. There are some young boys who have become men this season and it will stand them in good stead.”
Bowman scored in each half with clinical finishes after being sent clear by John McReady and Adam Rundle.
Bowman and 19-year-old McReady are being watched by bigger clubs and will be playing at a higher level come August.
Quakers’ third goal was a backheel by Haydn Hollis that keeper Laurie Walker helped into the net, a rare moment of good fortune for Quakers this season.
Kettering had pulled it back to 2-1 courtesy of Charlie Wyke’s penalty.
Bowman was denied a hat-trick when his shot crashed against the crossbar, and the win would have been much more convincing but for a string of fine saves from Kettering’s overworked keeper.
Darlington will either return to The Arena in August as a community run club, or move from a home that has brought them three administrations in less than a decade.
DARLINGTON: Nixon; Arnison, Taylor, Johnson, Brown, Wainwright (Lambert 60), McReady, Keltie, Rundle, Hollis, Bowman. Subs (not used): Ferguson, Barton. Booked: Johnson. Goals: Bowman 31, 48, Ford 74 og.
KETTERING TOWN: Walker; Noubissie, Bridges, Westwood, Palmer (York 75), Joyce, Sangare, Ford, Mills, Gray, Wyke. Subs (not used): Navarro, Petranyuk. Booked: Noubissie. Goal: Wyke 59 pen.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside). Att: 1, 792.