Massive crowd watch Darlington 1883 humble Harrogate Railway

Peter Crook was once again in fine form for Harrogate Railway
Peter Crook was once again in fine form for Harrogate Railway

More than one thousand spectators watched Darlington 1883 sink stubborn Harrogate Railway 2-0 at Station View.

First-half goals from Joseph Tait and Steven Thompson gave the promotion chasing visitors victory.

The writing was on the wall for Railway early on when Tait swept in Darlington’s opener after seven minutes.

Railway were thankful for a succession of fine saves by goalkeeper Peter Crook before impressive winger Steven Thompson doubled the visitors lead on the stroke of half-time.

The home side rallied after the break and substitute Colin Hunter missed two chances to drag Rail’ back into the clash.

The Quakers also spurned several opportunities to extend their lead as Crook shone.

Railway were without top goalscorer Nathan Cartman after the forward signed for neighbours Harrogate Town on Saturday morning.

His absence left a void up top, and Rail’ boss Billy Miller chose captain Jon Maloney to play in an unfamiliar position and lead the line.

It almost proved a stroke of genius within two minutes of the match, when Maloney seized on Darlo ‘keeper Mark Bell’s poor clearance to smash a strike from distance narrowly wide.

That would prove to be Railway’s best chance of the first-half, as the away side asserted their dominance and peppered Crook’s goal early on.

And on seven minutes, the deadlock broke. Darlo right-back Stephen Harrison put a low cross into the box and Tait’s first time shot trickled past Crook and into the corner.

The visitors almost stretched the lead within minutes but Crook dashed out well to block Amar Purewal’s shot with his chest.

Crook continued to look assured in goal and he superbly tipped Thompson’s left-footed strike just wide with five minutes of the half remaining.

But the winger, a constant menace all over the pitch, found revenge on 44 minutes as he caressed a volley from Purawel’s knock-down straight into the corner.

Both sides started the second-half cagily as Railway switched to four-four-two. And Hunter could have brought the home side back into it within a minute of his arrival, but he shot straight at Bell. His next effort found the top of the stand after finding a second yard of space in the area.

Dan Thirkell then prevented Railway falling three goals behind after scrambling a corner away on the line, before Tait headed wide from another set piece.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Thirkell was again on hand to clear after Darlington sub Nathan Fisher beat the onrushing Crook but hooked short of the goal.

Crook was called to action again soon after. The dual-registered Harrogate Town stopped thwarted Purawell’s header low down before substitute Nathan Fisher found his left leg with a low drive.

Purewal had a final chance to break Railway’s stern resistance but, after surging clear of the home back four, he tamely sent a shot close to Crook.

The defeat leaves Railway 12th in Evo-Stik First Division North, as fallen giants Darlington stayed fourth.

Meanwhile, Chris Hall and Adam Nowakowski were on target as Harrogate Town came from behind to beat Stalybridge Celtic 2-1 at the CNG Stadium.

Tadcaster Albion hammered NCEL Premier basement boys Lincoln Moorland Railway 6-0.

Carl Stewart (2), Danny Critchlow, Vinny Dhesi, Mitch Hamilton & Dan Barrett were second-placed Tad’s goalscorers.

Knaresborough Town fell to tenth in NCEL Division One after losing 2-0 to third-placed Bottesford Town.