Thompson 11, Smith 50, Nicholson 52
Though the Reds controlled much of the early part of the game and dominated possession, there wasn’t so much as a single serious effort on target for the travelling fans to cheer.
Darlington went in front on 11 minutes as Steven Thompson chipped Brandon Hall – two goals swiftly after the break sealing a comfortable win for the home side.
HARRIERS slumped to another league defeat, going down 3-0 to Darlington at Blackwell Meadows.
Though the Reds controlled much of the early part of the game and dominated possession, there wasn't so much as a single serious effort on target for the travelling fans to cheer.
Darlington went in front on 11 minutes as Steven Thompson chipped Brandon Hall - two goals swiftly after the break sealing a comfortable win for the home side.
Harriers were quick to start and passed the ball around with ease, Darlington barely seeing as much as a touch in possession in the opening five minutes.
There were no chances to come from it, though, and the first opening of the game brought the first goal; Thompson free to step on to the ball some 25 yards out and hit it up and over the advanced Hall.
It perhaps should have been 2-0 on 20 minutes as Thompson's driving solo run was capped off with an effort that looked destined for the bottom corner before it came back off the inside of the post.
Declan Weeks powerfully hit a free-kick that goalkeeper Maddison was able to gather comfortably after a deflection took out the venom.
Hall's fine save saw him nudge a header over the bar from six yards shortly before the half-hour as Darlington again advanced.
Harriers lost Jimmy O'Connor before the break and were staring down the barrel within five of the restart as Smith was free to glance a header from a corner into the net, Nicholson equally unchallenged to weave through the pack and roll a shot into the bottom corner to leave the score at 3-0.
Just before the hour Weeks saw a corner met with a header that deflected comfortably away from danger, Maddison rushing out to smother Richards' attempt at a shot with 68 on the clock.
Darlington had late chances to add to their lead when Thompson curled over and Galbraith sent a free-kick into the hands of Hall. By that time, though, the Quakers were content in seeing out their win.
Harriers captain Jimmy O’Connor is hoping Harriers can build on a positive New Year’s Day result as they travel to face Darlington.
He and his team mates came from behind against Hereford on the opening day of 2019 to win 2-1.
Goals from Kane Richards and Declan Weeks sealed the points against the Bulls despite being reduced to ten men before half time, and O’Connor stressed the importance of the result following a disappointing run of games.
“We talked before the game about belief - belief doesn’t just happen, you have to work hard so that it comes back,” O’Connor said.
“The result is massive for us after a disappointing run of games.
"...If we’re on our game and we work hard, stick to our basics and do things right, then I think we will give ourselves a good chance..." Jimmy O'Connor
“The way that we got the win was really important.
“When stuff goes against you when you’re in a difficult period, it’s easy to buckle, but it galvanised us - I think we kicked on even more after the sending off”.
The match was O’Connor’s first since mid November, and he was happy, as well as surprised, to return to the field on Tuesday.
“I got an injury against Chorley that caused me some grief, I didn’t come back as quickly as I would have liked,” admitted O’Connor.
“I wasn’t sure if I was playing on New Year’s Day, it was a bit of a shock but you have to prepare right.
“You need to do all the things that you can do away from the club to make sure that you’re right to come in and do a job, and I thought I did that and thought that the lads were excellent on the whole, really”.
Having experienced over a year’s worth of National League North football, O’Connor knows how competitive and difficult each match is, including Saturday’s trip to the north east, but wants New Year’s Day’s result to be one that Harriers can build upon.
“It’s a cliché but every time you go away from home in this league it’s tough, each team offers different problems,” said O’Connor.
"...every time you go away from home in this league it’s tough..."
“It doesn’t really matter what kind of run they’re on, if they’re on a bad run then they will want a reaction, and if they’re on a great run then they will be full of confidence.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and we have to build on New Year’s Day.
“We’re not quite where we want to be position-wise in the league, but we’re in a position where we can do something about that.
“If we’re on our game and we work hard, stick to our basics and do things right, then I think we will give ourselves a good chance of coming away with three points hopefully”.
Harriers will have Ryan Johnson available to feature after the defender signed a permanent contract with the club. The player will serve a three-match suspension for his red card against Hereford after this weekend.
The Reds will also hope to field a further new signing at Darlington with the news set to be confirmed later on Friday, but Billy Daniels remains sidelined with his injury sustained over Christmas. Dan Bradley and Ed Williams will be assessed as they combat illness and injury.
Kick-off at Darlington on Saturday is at 3:00pm
WATCH: Jimmy O'Connor's pre-match video interview, courtesy of our YouTube channel, by clicking the video tab above.
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Jimmy O'Connor pre-match
Neil MacFarlane post-match
Fraser Horsfall post-match