Football: FA Cup - Roberts kicks his way into history

FA Cup second round: Penalty ends Hednesford's dream while late goal denies little Emley at Lincoln

Hednesford Town 0

Darlington 1

Roberts pen 49

Attendance: 1,900

Just when you thought that after 126 years there was nothing new in the FA Cup out popped a centre-forward called Darren Roberts. No sooner had he scored his 49th-minute penalty for Darlington yesterday than he was sent off. Roberts was charging towards the away fans by way of celebration but on his way stopped by the opposition goalkeeper, Scott Cooksey, whom he appeared to assault with his studs. It was the sort of raking normally associated with especially mean-spirited second-row forwards. Roberts said later that he merely wished to dispatch the ball into the net once more and any contact was inadvertent. Still, it was difficult to tell which was more thunderous, the penalty or its sequel kick. It was a bizarre way to be dismissed and Roberts will doubtless have to choose a more genteel way of marking goals in future. His only consolations are that his side progressed and that he will forever be an FA Cup footmark.

His goal was enough to create a small cup shock. Darlington might have been the Nationwide League side but there was no doubt that Hednesford, second in the Vauxhall Conference and on a roll, were the rightful favourites. The bookmakers had them at 11-10 on and the price did not flatter them considering their recent form against higher opposition.

Hednesford's owner manager, John Baldwin, played down their chances but the previous wins in the past two seasons against Blackpool, York and Hull - plus a heartbreakingly narrow defeat against Middlesbrough - must have told him a different story. In the event, his judgement was correct: Darlington were the more stylish and also the more robust. After Roberts went they did not panic but rearranged and cut out the threats.

The victory was probably more important for the North-east club. A favourable draw in the third round today - favourable means a top 10 Premiership team, preferably away - will make their season if not their decade. The scenes of joy after the match which stopped only just short of a lap of honour told the result's significance.

Hednesford, meanwhile, have other places to go. Their finances will hardly benefit from this defeat but it should be a mere blip in the remarkable progress they have made in the Nineties. When Baldwin was appointed manager they were rock bottom of the old Beazer Homes Midland division and, in truth, probably fulfilling all the potential of a team in a dying pit village. Baldwin had been a player with the club but is an accountant by profession. Months after becoming manager he also bought the club and since then has taken them all the way through two divisions and almost to the summit of the Conference and to a new ground, built on a former brickworks-cum-slagheap.

It has been an epic journey even in football terms and Baldwin, while sustaining his accountancy practice in Birmingham, is determined to take Hednesford into the League. The ground, which is cold and exposed, should be complete by the end of February. It will have cost pounds 2m by then. Baldwin all but shrugs off the money.

He has invested considerably in players as well and shows no sign of tightening the purse strings. For 20 minutes yesterday, they posed Darlington some problems and both Gary Fitzpatrick and Micky Norbury should have scored in that period. But it was Darlington thereafter who were the more controlled. If this came as something unexpected to the rest of football, Darlington might even have surprised themselves.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea