It was a case of back to basics for the game with Garstang at the WEC Group Anchor Ground. A couple of changes were made to the squad with Luke Jarrold and Kallum Banks dropping to the reserves and David Hamilton and Bobby Langford returning after a couple of weeks out with injury.
Kenny mixed it up at the back with Leighton Jones starting at left back, this meant Danny Ashburner played in the centre with Sam Holt and Jamie Gibson returning to the right back spot. In the middle was Bobby, replacing Jamie Gibson, Sam Knowles and Kiel Lonsdale. Up front we had the same 3 of Leon Creech, Nyle Ellis and Jamie Edwards.
The game began at a quick pace and the first goal came in the 8th minute. Danny Ashburner took a free kick from 25 yards out and the keeper saved low to his right to put it out for a corner. Bobby Langford took and played it in low to the near post. Leon Creech stooped down and headed it backwards and the ball fell to the feet of Sam Knowles how tapped in from a few yards out. Only he reacted with all the Garstang players stood still.
A few minutes later, Garstang should have been level. It was great build up play and the ball was knocked into the box. Sam Holt headed away but only to a Garstang player whos miss hit volley landed at the feet of the forward. His shot and turn hit the far post and stayed out for Gibson to clear the ball away.
A minute lateer it should have been 2-0 to Darwen but for a great instinctive stop from the keeper. Bobby picked out Nyle with a sublime volley, he ran down the left channel and waited for Bobby to get in the box. Bobby again volleyed his short cross but the keeper did well at his near post to stick out a leg for what would have been a fantastic team goal.
In the 13th minute, Garstang equalised. No Darwen pressure allowed the number 9 to play in the number 10 and he smashed the ball home into the roof of the net.
Only a minute after conceding, Darwen were back in front. Garstang tried playing around with at the back but great pressure from Kiel and Jamie Edwards hurried them into a mistake, the ball fell to Creech who ran through and coolly slotted into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.
Strangely, it was a minute later that Garstang equalised again. A long ball was played from the centre half to the left winger who chested it down but Gibson knocked it out for a throw. They, at this point reacted quicker. The ball was thrown over the head of Gibson to an on rushing midfielder. He looped the ball over everyone into the centre of the box for the number 9 to easily head home. What a crazy few minutes.
In the 22nd minute, Darwen took the lead again for the 3rd time. Bobby again whipped a corner into the box, this time it was Danny Ashburner who powered his way through three players to head home.
Darwen could have had a 4th just before half time when Sam Knowles headed a brilliant cross from the left by Leighton Jones towards goal. The keeper again pulled off a fantastic save to deny him his second of the afternoon.
Half Time 3-2
In the second half for Darwen it was a case of battling to grind out a result. They sat deep with the Garstang midfield putting pressure on ours. Garstang had the wind with them and time after time would play the long ball forward to catch out the Darwen defence but they stood firm. Darwen would catch them on the break , which is what they are good at with the pace of the front three. On one occasion, Livesey Mason nicked the ball from the opposition and played a 1-2 with Sam Knowles. He burst forward into their half and played a lovely ball through to Leon Creech he ran through and looked certain to score, he pulled his shot just wide of the far post.
The second half belonged to the keepers. Lewis McPartlan pulled off what looked like a certain goal for the visitors but his reaction save denied the equaliser. Even late on he prevented what looked like an own goal when Gibson slid in to clear his lines. The ball went towards the far post but there was McPartlan to scramble over and palm it away.
The game finished at 3-2 to Darwen and another battle for the three points. No games in this league are guaranteed and Garstang proved that with their tenacity and fight. They showed that they were not a side that should be in the bottom three.
Darwen knew that they had been in another tough game but the three points were all that they needed.
Man of the Match: Nyle Ellis
1 Lewis McPartlan
2 Jamie Gibson
3 Leighton Jones
4 Sam Holt
5 Danny Ashburner
6 Kiel Lonsdale (C)
7 Bobby Langford
8 Sam Knowles
9 Nyle Ellis
10 Leon Creech
11 Jamie Edwards
12 Livesey Mason
14 Matt Johnson
15 Lloyd Bannister
16 David Hamilton