Saints cruise to three points against Darlington
Lee Ndlovu gave Saints the first half lead which top scorer Aaron Williams doubled with his 25th goal of the season in the second half before Jimmy Armson rounded it off. Danny Lewis made sure he kept a clean sheet by saving Terry Galbraith’s late penalty at St James Park.
Saints remain unbeaten at home this season and there was little danger of the Quakers ending that record, offering little in attack despite some neat build-up play.
Ben O’Hanlon’s early cross almost caught out Lewis who had to turn the ball over his bar. Luke Trotman released Harvey Saunders who turned well in the box before firing straight at Lewis.
But in between, Ndlovu missed a great chance when he headed wide from Adam Walker’s pin-point cross following neat approach play from Matt Lowe.
Armson twisted and turned before seeing his curling effort from the edge of the box deflected wide but Saints broke the deadlock in the 13th minute. Darlington were caught napping when Ndlovu received the ball on the edge of the box and he found the bottom corner of the net with keeper Aynsley Pears rooted to the spot.
Josh Gillies curled a free-kick wide from just outside the box after Gareth Dean had upended Saunders who was trying to get on the end of a through ball which Lewis already had covered. David Syers glanced a header wide from a decent cross by Greg Mills as Darlington looked for a quick response.
But that was all the visitors really had to offer as an attacking threat in the first half and Saints had the better chances.
Lowe fired into the side-netting after Darlington got caught trying to play out from the back. Alex Gudger headed over after Pears failed to deal with Shane Byrne’s deep corner and Armson fired straight at the Darlington keeper from 15 yards.
Saints continued to push for the crucial second goal and Williams created space from himself before firing over from the edge of the box. Just before the break, Darlington failed to clear Byrne’s free-kick and Walker shot over from outside the box.
But Darlington went close on the stroke of halftime when a deep free-kick from Gilles was headed wide at the far post by Syers.
Darlington began well after the restart but Lowe almost caught out Pears at his near post before the keeper recovered well to make a decent save. And Armson almost wriggled his way through before being squeezed out of it by a couple of defenders.
Dean headed wide from Byrne’s deep corner before manager Kevin Wilkin threw on new signing Shepherd Murombedzie for Ndlovu just past the hour mark. And the former Banbury United striker almost scored with his first touch, his low drive from a tight angle hitting the near post and rebounding on to Pears before the keeper claimed the ball at the second attempt.
But the reprieve was brief and Saints struck twice in quick succession with Williams doubling his side’s advantage in the 73rd minute. Armson’s shot was parried by Pears but Murombedzi returned the ball into the six-yard box, Walkers’ shot was blocked and Williams turned to tuck the ball home from close range.
Saints wrapped the three points up in the 77th minute when Armson created the space on the edge of the box before firing into the corner of the net past the despairing dive of Pears.
Darlington missed a glorious chance to reduce the arrears in the 81st minute when Ellis Myles chopped down Mills but Lewis superbly saved Galbraith’s ensuing spot-kick.