Darlington 0-1 Fleetwood
Fleetwood Town overcame a patched up yet spirited Darlington to keep up pressure on leaders Wrexham.
Temporarily spared liquidation and under a player embargo, the Quakers matched the high-flying visitors for much of the game.
Danny Rose gave Town the lead in a close first half when he fired home after Andy Mangan's shot struck a post.
Both sides had opportunities in the second period, but were unable to add to the score.
Regardless of the result, the very fact Darlington were able to stage the fixture was a miracle in itself.
Minutes from liquidation on Wednesday and players already pondering a future without the club, the Darlington FC Rescue Group's last-gasp cash injection gave the club a two-week stay of execution - and set off a frantic effort on and off the field to get the game ahead.
Amid a backdrop of wrangling over player signings, interim boss Craig Liddle was forced to re-register as a player at the age of 40, but managed to assemble a squad, with Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford the only new addition.
The stadium was feverishly busy even two hours before kick-off, buckets rattled for loose change, volunteers mucking in at the kiosks and ticket office - while at the other end of the scale, big spending promotion-chasers Fleetwood arrived in a plush coach, without £1m-rated striker Jamie Vardy in the squad.
With kick-off delayed by congestion outside the ground and on the nearby A66 to allow the 5,638 supporters to take their seats, the atmosphere was one of celebration by the time the match got underway at around 1520 GMT.
Buoyed by a vocal support, the home side were adventurous, although it would be Fleetwood who enjoyed the early chances as a viciously swirling wind made life difficult for both teams throughout the half.
Peter Cavanagh scooped over for the visitors for the first chance of the game, while in response, Aaron Brown's curling free-kick narrowly evaded the lurking Ryan Bowman with Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies uncertain.
Pickford then gathered a brace of fierce Mangan crosses after Fleetwood found a way round the Quakers wall of white shirts.
Despite the Quakers' inexperience, they matched their high-flying opponents for much of the half, and it took freak circumstances for Fleetwood to gain the lead.
A hopeful, swirling ball forward cannoned off the head of Quakers centre-half Graeme Lee and dropped kindly into the path of Mangan, whose shot rebounded back off the post to Rose, who lashed home Micky Mellon's side a first-half lead.
Regardless of the football world's sympathies for Darlington, Fleetwood were ruthless in their quest for points as early second-half pressure demonstrated.
Again Lee was forced to head away a teasing delivery from Rose, and then Pickford clawed away when Mangan's edge-of-the-box effort bent towards the far corner.
Nathan Pond was denied a second from the resulting corner when John McReady stubbed the ball off the line and Pickford saved easily when Lee Fowler struck from 25 yards.
Having soaked up pressure for the first quarter of an hour of the second half, the home side finally although launched an attack of their own through Bowman, although Rundle's scissor-kick rolled harmlessly wide.
The Quakers continued to grow in confidence and when Adam Rundle was fouled, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson hammered a free-kick that was eventually cleared.
Further pressure from Liddle's side raised the hopes of the crowd, but Fleetwood's composure and quality was enough to keep the home side at bay, and maintain their promotion challenge on an emotional day at the Darlington Arena.
Both sets of players were applauded off, with the sound of 'You'll never walk alone' echoing around the stadium as fans headed for the exits.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Darlington interim manager Craig Liddle told BBC Sport:
"The result might have been immaterial to a lot of people but not to me, because I'm looking at the bigger picture and if we survive this next week we're in a relegation battle.
"For me I wanted desperately to get something out of the game, but there are a lot of positives to take from the game.
"I've got a young son and a daughter up there, who are proud of me, but to be backed in front of them gives you goosebumps and at times I was doing well to hold myself together."
Fleetwood Town manager Micky Mellon told BBC Sport:
"It was an emotional day, we knew what it was going to be like that.
"We had to stay as professional as possible and get the result.
"Now we've got it, we hope and pray that the people of Darlington have still got a club to support because it's a great footballing area."
- 24 Pickford
- 02 Arnison
- 03 Brown
- 18 Lee
- 08 Taylor Booked
- 16 McReady (Harrison - 65' Booked )
- 20 Rundle (Ramshaw - 90' )
- 30 Hopson
- 31 Bridge-Wilkinson
- 12 Bowman
- 28 Gray Booked (Barton - 82' )
- 13 Nixon
- 15 Gray
- 14 Barton
- 22 Ramshaw
- 26 Harrison
- 01 Davies
- 02 Beesley
- 05 McNulty
- 13 Goodall
- 26 Cavanagh Booked
- 06 Pond
- 27 Fowler (McGuire - 82' )
- 31 Rose
- 09 Brodie
- 14 Mangan
- 19 Seddon (Allen - 59' )
- 34 Stephenson
- 07 Clancy
- 18 McGuire
- 29 Allen
- 10 Vieira
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +3:07
Nathan Pond fouled by Graeme Lee, the ref awards a free kick. Scott Davies takes the free kick.90:00 +0:23
Corner taken right-footed by Jamie McGuire.88:38
Scott Davies restarts play with the free kick.88:38 Substitution
Substitution Adam Rundle leaves the field to be replaced by Rob Ramshaw.88:38 Booking
Booking Booking for Scott Harrison.88:26
Unfair challenge on Peter Cavanagh by Scott Harrison results in a free kick.87:36
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Bowman by Jamie McGuire. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson takes the direct free kick.86:59
Adam Rundle produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.84:56
Jamie Barton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Beeley. Scott Davies restarts play with the free kick.84:30
A cross is delivered by Jamie Barton, Shaun Beeley makes a clearance.83:37
Ryan Bowman gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie McGuire. Free kick taken by Scott Davies.81:54
Free kick taken by Jordan Pickford.81:54 Substitution
Substitution Lee Fowler goes off and Jamie McGuire comes on.81:54 Substitution
Substitution Jamie Barton on for James Gray.81:54
The assistant referee signals for offside against Richard Brodie.77:47
Strike on goal comes in from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson from the free kick.77:47 Booking
Booking Peter Cavanagh booked for unsporting behaviour.77:37
Lee Fowler concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Rundle.77:14
Graeme Lee crosses the ball, save by Scott Davies.
A cross is delivered by Paul Arnison, clearance by Peter Cavanagh.75:49
The ball is crossed by Aaron Brown.75:36
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Bowman by Steve McNulty. Free kick taken by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson.73:23
Direct free kick taken by Steve McNulty.73:23 Booking
Booking Booking for Kris Taylor.73:00
Richard Brodie fouled by Kris Taylor, the ref awards a free kick.72:19
Lee Fowler gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Brown. Direct free kick taken by Jordan Pickford.66:58
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Danny Rose by Kris Taylor. Andy Mangan has an effort direct from the free kick.64:18
Scott Davies takes the free kick.64:18 Substitution
Substitution Scott Harrison replaces John McReady.64:18
The assistant referee flags for offside against Adam Rundle.63:53
The ball is delivered by James Gray, save made by Scott Davies.61:51
Adam Rundle produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that goes wide left of the target.59:17
Lee Fowler takes a shot. Save by Jordan Pickford.57:54
Free kick taken by Scott Davies.57:54 Substitution
Substitution Richie Allen joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gareth Seddon.57:54 Booking
Booking James Gray goes into the book.57:38
Alan Goodall fouled by James Gray, the ref awards a free kick.57:17
The official flags Richard Brodie offside. Jordan Pickford restarts play with the free kick.56:19
Centre by Alan Goodall, save made by Jordan Pickford.56:08
The ball is swung over by Shaun Beeley, Graeme Lee manages to make a clearance.53:57
Andy Mangan takes a shot. Save by Jordan Pickford. Corner from the right by-line taken by Danny Rose, Nathan Pond takes a shot. James Gray makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Danny Rose from the right by-line, Graeme Lee makes a clearance.52:46
The assistant referee signals for offside against Richard Brodie. Free kick taken by Graeme Lee.50:50
The ball is swung over by Paul Arnison, Scott Davies makes a save.50:41
The ball is crossed by Dale Hopson.49:08
Andy Mangan crosses the ball, blocked by Adam Rundle. Corner crossed in by Danny Rose, Graeme Lee makes a clearance. Corner from right by-line taken by Andy Mangan.47:19
The ball is delivered by Paul Arnison, Scott Davies makes a save.46:04
The ball is sent over by Peter Cavanagh, clearance made by Graeme Lee.45:28
Corner taken by Danny Rose, clearance made by Aaron Brown.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:00 +2:28 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.45:00 +2:11
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Danny Rose.43:01
Andy Mangan provided the assist for the goal.43:01 Goal scored
Goal! - Danny Rose - Darlington 0 - 1 Fleetwood Danny Rose fires in a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Darlington 0-1 Fleetwood Town.42:14
Effort from close range by Andy Mangan bounces off the post. Inswinging corner taken by Adam Rundle from the left by-line, clearance made by Lee Fowler.40:14
Centre by Paul Arnison.39:16
The ball is swung over by Lee Fowler, save by Jordan Pickford.38:44
Andy Mangan fouled by James Gray, the ref awards a free kick. Alan Goodall takes the direct free kick.36:33
A cross is delivered by Shaun Beeley, save by Jordan Pickford.36:15
Danny Rose fouled by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, the ref awards a free kick. Steve McNulty restarts play with the free kick.35:01
Danny Rose gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Brown. Graeme Lee takes the free kick.32:43
Lee Fowler delivers the ball, save by Jordan Pickford.28:38
Foul by Paul Arnison on Nathan Pond, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Scott Davies.26:51
The ball is crossed by Richard Brodie, Kris Taylor gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken by Danny Rose from the right by-line played to the near post, Nathan Pond challenges Jordan Pickford unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jordan Pickford takes the free kick.26:11
Centre by Gareth Seddon, Jordan Pickford makes a save.24:41
Andy Mangan takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.23:09
Unfair challenge on Graeme Lee by Richard Brodie results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graeme Lee.22:31
James Gray is adjudged to have handled the ball. Scott Davies takes the direct free kick.21:59
The official flags Richard Brodie offside. Free kick taken by Kris Taylor.20:24
The ball is swung over by Ryan Bowman, save by Scott Davies.18:16
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Danny Rose played to the near post, Graeme Lee manages to make a clearance. The ball is delivered by Danny Rose, Richard Brodie has a header from inside the six-yard box and clears the crossbar.16:43
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kris Taylor by Alan Goodall. Free kick taken by Jordan Pickford.15:00
Corner taken by Danny Rose from the right by-line to the near post. Andy Mangan crosses the ball, Jordan Pickford makes a save.13:04
Richard Brodie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Jordan Pickford.12:19
The ball is delivered by Andy Mangan, save made by Jordan Pickford.10:36
James Gray fouled by Alan Goodall, the ref awards a free kick. Aaron Brown takes the direct free kick.7:28
Unfair challenge on Aaron Brown by Richard Brodie results in a free kick. Jordan Pickford takes the free kick.3:10
Danny Rose gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Arnison. Free kick taken by Paul Arnison.2:06
Danny Rose takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Aaron Brown. Corner taken left-footed by Danny Rose from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Paul Arnison. Centre by Peter Cavanagh. Centre by Lee Fowler, Kris Taylor manages to make a clearance.0:45
Ryan Bowman sends in a cross, Steve McNulty makes a clearance.0:23
Lee Fowler sends in a cross.0:00
The game gets underway.
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