AFTER the upheaval of the club surviving after entering administration, being relegated four divisions from the Blue Square Bet Premier and changing its name, life for Darlington is certainly on the up.
On Saturday night they stood at the head of the Ebac Northern League’s first division with a nine-point advantage after mauling Ashington at Heritage Park.
The Colliers, who dropped into mid-table with the heavy defeat, are not the first side to be on the receiving end of a hiding from Darlington, who took their goals tally to 32 in nine matches at their ground sharing home.
Yet in front of a crowd just short of the 1,500 mark, Darlo’s second highest of the campaign, Gary Middleton’s men had struck early through Andrew Johnson.
The strike was like waving a red rag to a bull and the Quakers – with only one defeat in 14 previous matches – not only hit back to level but went 2-1 ahead all within the space of five minutes.
When striker Stephen Thompson netted an early second half penalty, it proved to be the catalyst for an emphatic display from the home side.
They tortured Ashington as in wave after wave they attacked the visitors goal with regularity and were given a standing ovation at the final whistle.
Battered, bruised and hurt, Middleton’s men can only learn from it all.
It was in the eighth minute Johnson registered his tenth goal of the season to put the Colliers in front.
Andrew Dugdale swung over a cross into the area where Johnson’s looping header from eight yards sailed over keeper Jack Norton and into the net.
Within a minute, Thompson fed Dowson who skied over a second opportunity. But two minutes later, keeper Karl Dryden could only push out a cross from the right by Adam Nicholls which went straight into the path of Leon Scott who rifled home the rebound.
Worse was to follow as Dugdale lost possession to Thompson and the striker drilled a right footer wide of Dryden and into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Ashington made the worst start possible to the second period when two minutes in, James Taylor upended Adam Nicholls in the area and Thompson sent Dryden the wrong way from the resultant spot kick.
Ten minutes later, Dryden pushed out a free kick from Adam Clough before goal number four arrived.
A header from Gary Brown was beaten out by Dryden but the ball broke to Amar Purewal who nodded home.
Then Darlington went nap midway through the half with Scott adding his second.
The home side raided down the left and when substitute Shaun Reay’s effort ballooned into the air off substitute Louis Storey, it landed just under the bar with Scott having the simple task of applying the finish.
Ashington were being cut to shreds when Darlo went forward, and after Stephen Harrison’s cross-shot had struck the far post, goal number six arrived in the 88th minute.
Storey lost possession on the right and in a quick raid the ball was played wide by Steve Johnson to Chris Emms who fired across Dryden and into the far corner.
A sad day all round with the Colliers being outclassed and the defeat bringing back memories of the 2001-02 season when they were given a master lesson in a 5-0 defeat against Durham City at New Ferens Park.
Ashington: Dryden, Williams (Storey 46 mins), Scott (Dobbie 33 mins), Antony, Atkin, Grieve, J Taylor, Dugdale (O’Dea 64 mins), Walton, G Taylor, Johnson. Subs not used: Bainbridge, Bell.
On Saturday, Ashington are without a game then host Newcastle Benfield at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday, October 23.