AFC Darwen vs Nelson AFC
Darwen win 5-2 at home again
The Salmoners recorded their second 5-2 home win of the league campaign whilst brushing aside local rivals Nelson with ease in the season’s first ‘El Hotpot’ derby.
The game opened to a pretty scrappy yet quite fast-paced first few minutes.
The visitors’ number 11, Jack Foster, went close with the first real chance of note - his attempt rolled narrowly wide of the right-hand post. Kenny Langford’s men
Darwen took the lead after just 7 minutes - a strong and resilient Ryan Steele muscled his way through a couple of Nelson defenders before thundering a shot into the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the area. The Nelson keeper, Jack Little, was left with no chance.
The Salmoners looked much more confident and assured in their recently adopted 4-3-2 system.
A nice phase of play from the reds almost resulted in a second goal but Creech failed to hit the target from the edge of the area.
Just before the half-hour mark, Creech played a fine ball to Steele who was making a run down the right flank - Steele headed down, The Admirals’ captain Charlie Lloyd failed to clear, and the former dispatched with ease. Steele was on a hat-trick. 2-0.
Holden made a smart save to maintain the hosts’ lead, tipping the ball over the bar. The visitors had a goal back not long after, however. 2-1.
Close shave for an equaliser, Reece Lyndon couldn’t quite turn the ball home from a few yards out.
A lovely piece of skill from top-scorer Leon Creech set up Darwen’s third. Steele ran on to his flicked through ball and completed a first-half hat-trick with one of the coolest finishes you could ever wish to see.
The two were to link up again before the half was out and scorer almost turned provider - Steele attempted to square it to his strike partner Creech with the outside of his foot but his ball was intercepted by a Nelson man at the crucial moment.
HALF TIME: Darwen 3-1 Nelson
The start to the second half was pretty uneventful. However, Holden did make another nice save to deny Jack Foster before Reece Lyndon almost got on the end of a deep cross at the back (right-hand) post.
An impressive save from Jack Little denied Townsend what would have been the goal of the game. Unfortunately, this was to be the last part that Townsend end would play. He landed awkwardly after jumping to contest a header and was stretchered off following a break in play whilst he received treatment on what looked like an ankle issue.
Nelson enjoyed some decent spells of possession but couldn’t seem to produce anything to show for it.
Nelson were awarded what looked like a soft penalty when Bradley Ditch was adjudged to have been held in the box. Jack Foster converted from the spot and the visitors were back in it with 20 minutes remaining. 3-2.
Much to the relief of the Darwen faithful, Steele was able to restore The Salmoners’ two-goal advantage from kick-off. Little got a hand to his shot but couldn’t prevent it from finding the bottom left-hand corner. Darwen lead 4-2 and Steele has all four.
Then, in a moment of bizarreness and utter confusion for the spectators, four-goal hero Ryan Steele was sent off out of the blue by referee Matthew Clarke. The general consensus was that Steele had received his marching orders for bad language directed at the officials.
Moments later, it was five. Creech’s attempt from a tight angle is judged to have crossed the line by the linesman. This was Creech’s eleventh goal of the season.
Creech could have had a brace, bagged his twelfth of the season and added a sixth for Darwen. He surely would have been disappointed that he didn’t capitalise on this opportunity given the standard of finishing we have become accustomed to from him.
The last action of the encounter came in the form of a dangerous-looking run from Wilson-Heyes. The forward showed great pace, beat his man and forced a save Little when he made his own attempt at delivering Darwen’s sixth of the afternoon.
FULL TIME: Darwen 5-2 Nelson
Ultimately, Kenny Langford will be pleased with the general performance of his players yet he will always be left with a sour taste in his mouth following the sending off of Ryan Steele and the worrying injury sustained by Jack Townsend.
Darwen will wait to see if they can make it back-to-back home wins when they face Bury AFC - who are still unbeaten in the league - at the Anchor on Saturday.
1. Stefan Holden
2. Lewis Cumpsty
3. Kallum Banks
4. Sam Knowles
5. Christopher Lynch
6. Jake Townsend
7. Ben Langford ©
8. Nathan Bond
9. Leon Creech
10. Ryan Steele
11. Rio Wilson-Heyes
12. Jamie Gibson
14. Alexander Mortimer
15. Clayton Gorman
16. Alaster Redmayne
17. Joshua Liversedge
1. Jack Little
2. Cameron Lancaster
3. Sam Lloyd
4. Thomas McCann
5. Charlie Lloyd
6. Bradley Ditch
7. Max Cane
8. Ryan Cattermole
9. Reece Lyndon
10. Brian Mabhena
11. Jack Foster
12. Sebastien Julien
14. Nathan Webb
15. Luke Robinson
16. Bailey Hunter
17. Kit Lloyd