AN EQUALISER in the dying seconds of the game denied Darlaston a win on their return to West Midlands League Football in Darlaston.
Player/manager Mark Swann made one enforced change bringing in debutant keeper Dean Walker for the absent Chris Collins as they opened their home League campaign in front of a good crowd against second placed Wolverhampton United.
The first 20 minutes was a game of cat and mouse with both sides eager not to concede. The United keeper Terry Shaw was busier than his counterpart but neither side created any clear cut opportunities. The visitors' centre forward Maldine Santos was proving a handful and he was always an outlet for what increasingly became an overworked defence. For the home side Sam Giles brought a fine save from Shaw whilst Swann and John Reeves both shot wide.
United were well organised and an industrious midfield with the impressive Michael Craddock ensured they were always a threat. However Darlaston's pressure finally told in the 30th minute when Swann clipped home his fourth goal of the season from 12 yards to give the home side the lead. Unfortunately the home side did not press home their advantage but went into the break with a slender lead. As the second half progressed the influence of United winger Damien Wood was more evident and for the second time in three games Darlaston paid a heavy price for missed chances when the visitors equalised in the 61st minute. Smith took advantage of a defensive mix up and found himself with an open goal at his mercy, tapping the ball home from 8 yards.
The visiting keeper made good saves from Giles and Reeves whilst midfielder Anthony Follows hit a rasping 25 yard drive which the keeper could only parry to safety. With the game petering to a 1-1 draw Swann thought he had secured all 3 points in the 90th minute. Much to the delight of the home crowd he chested down a cross from substitute Kelly, turned his defender and blasted home from 10 yards.
Unbelievably with just seconds remaining another dreadful mix up in the home defence brought about the equaliser. Keeper Walker found himself stranded and Wood laid the ball into the path of Santos to prod home from one yard out.
Despite the disappoint of conceding a late equaliser Darlaston remain in sixth position with four points from three games.
This Saturday (30 August) they travel to Aston University Recreation Centre where Sikh Hunters are the hosts. Kick-off at 3pm.