13 Aug 2019 in Match Reports
A Sean Miller double helped Curzon Ashton maintain their unbeaten start to the season with an impressive 3-1 victory over Darlington.
Three goals in a crazy five-minute spell at the end of the first half gave Nash a one-goal lead at the break with Miller pouncing twice either side of Tyrone O'Neill's equaliser.
Isaac Sinclair then sealed the points with a fine strike in the second half to put Curzon - temporarily at least - top of the league.
Mark Bradshaw made three changes to the side which drew with Leamington on Saturday as he largely kept faith the same players that had gathered 5 points from the first three games. Jack Banister made his first competitive start for the club on the right-wing in place of Luke Wall with Isaac Sinclair and Miller returning to the starting line-up at the expense of Michael Elstone and Luke Merrill.
The first half was a largely even encounter with Darlington looking just the more threatening going forward, Cam Mason saving well from Will Hatfield before O'Neill fired over from close range after being found by the lively Jarrett Rivers.
But Curzon began to crank up the pressure in the closing stages of the half and deservedly took the lead after 42 minutes when Miller guided a header into the far corner after Andy Halls' own header had crashed off the crossbar.
The celebrations were cut short when O'Neill ghosted in at the back post to slam home an equaliser with what looked like being the last action of the half, until the pendulum swung back in the hosts favour barely a minute later.
Under pressure, Mason whacked a long ball forward which bounced past a static Darlington defence and fell kindly to Miller who made no mistake with an emphatic left-footed finish on the half volley.
Buoyed by that frantic end to the half, the Nash came out and played some superb football in the second half with Banister and Sinclair terrorising their respective full-backs Jordan Watson and Michael Liddle.
Just over ten minutes into the half the young, but clearly supremely talented Sinclair then got his name on the scoresheet for the second time in the Curzon blue.
He took advantage of a poor Darlington clearance to cleverly head the ball over his marker at the edge of the box and finished superbly with another half-volley into the bottom corner.
At that point, it looked as if Curzon could run riot with substitute Michael Elstone blasting over when clean through on goal and Robbie Evans forcing Darlington 'keeper Chris Elliott into a flying save to his right.
In the end, Curzon were fortunate to keep their two goal lead thanks to Stephen Thompson inexplicably smashing over the crossbar when found in acres of space eight yards out and sub Justin Donawa suffering from a similar lack of composure when in a promising situation inside the box.
But Curzon were worthy of the three points and to have navigated the first four games - all played within ten days of each other - without defeat is a feat very few saw coming.
The team must now deal with the rising expectations that this run has brought about. Exciting times lie ahead at the Tameside Stadium.
Curzon: Mason, Halls, Ali, Thornley, Askew (Merrill 80), Wroe, Evans, Miller (Davies 65), Banister, Sinclair, Saunders (Elstone 61).
Subs not used: Shaw, Wall.