Football: Quakers ride storm better than Seagulls

Scott Barnes on a bad day up north for the side at the foot of the League
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The battle at the bottom of the Football League left Brighton becalmed and probably sinking, while a howling gale blew Darlington towards a 2-0 win and probable safety.

But, off the field, both clubs are still on the rocks. Four hundred Seagulls' followers bravely flapped up and down singing: "Jump Around If You Hate Archer". The object of their wrath, the club's chairman Bill Archer, was not present. A consortium will continue to mediate with him this week, but Brighton still face the prospect of sharing Gillingham's ground next season - whichever league they are in.

The Quakers are barely better off. In January the club, 83 per cent of which is owned by former Sheffield United chairman, Reg Brealey, via a trust in Gibraltar, staved off a winding-up order by promising to pay off debts in instalments over five years. Before Saturday's kick-off, the chairman, Bernard Lowery, announced that the Quakers were still pounds 400,000 short of the pounds 2m needed for a stand to comply with the Taylor Report.

Darlington's director of coaching, David Hodgson, does not believe such off-field turmoil should affect what happens on field. "When I was a player I didn't even know the directors' names. Our players are happy with the Portakabins where the hot water is flowing freely in the showers," he said, pointing to the orange higgledy-piggledy huts which double as dressing- rooms. "I come into work and, if the stand is started, brilliant, but if not, I get on with my job."

His side also knuckled down to business on Saturday. They won the toss, chose to have the fearsome wind at their backs and were vindicated within four minutes: Robbie Blake's free-kick from the left touchline ballooning into the top-right corner.

In the 25th minute, Anthony Carss, blown down the left wing, touched the ball inside to Gary Twynham, a former Manchester United trainee whom the Quakers signed when he was released from prison. Twynham weaved through a crowded penalty area before scoring his third goal in four games.

Two up at half-time in such conditions was not enough, said the wise heads in the Tin Shed - the stands to be demolished if the money is found. But, despite Brighton's pretty approach play centred on the impish Paul McDonald, they did not manage a shot until the 70th minute. Then Darlington's giant Finnish goalkeeper, Teuvo Moilanen who is on loan from Preston, tipped over an effort from Stuart Tuck and superbly spooned away another from Simon Fox.

Darlington's composed football, in which Simon Shaw and Adam Reed impressed, left Brighton with one away win all season, despite their improving home form.

"That fear factor of not winning away has become a mental thing and, unless I get a psychologist, there's nothing I can do about it," Steve Gritt, their manager, said. "We have to be confident, there's still 11 games to go."

He will be hoping confidence runs freer than Darlington's much-vaunted showers. Half an hour after he had blown the final whistle, the referee was still carrying his wash-bag in search of hot water.

Goals: Blake (4) 1-0; Twynham (25) 2-0.

Darlington (5-3-2): Moilanen; Shaw, Reed, Crosby, Hope, Carss; Naylor, Twynham, Atkinson (Kelly, 82); Blake, Roberts (Innes, 52). Substitute not used: De Vos.

Brighton and Hove Albion (4-3-3): Ormerod; Smith, Allen, Hobson, Tuck; Mundee (Peake, 63), Mayo, Reinelt; Baird, Maskell, McDonald (Fox, 77). Substitute not used: Johnson.

Referee: G Cain (Bootle)

Bookings: Darlington: Twynham, Blake. Brighton: Reinelt.

Man of the match: Shaw

Attendance: 2,099.