Darlington were knocked out of the FA Cup despite a spirited performance against League Two Walsall at Blackwall Meadows.

Caolan Lavery’s second half header was the only difference between the two sides last night.

Following their dramatic draw against The Saddlers just over a week ago the two sides replayed again in the North East in front of a sell out crowd.

The contest started off well and anyone would have struggled to notice the difference in leagues between the two sides.

Darlo pressed for an opener as the first 45 minutes progressed  and the team’s best opportunities were coming through the excitable winger Jarrett Rivers.

Despite this they struggled to test Walsall keeper Liam Roberts with the best opportunity of the half falling to Darlington’s central midfielder Will Hatfield which was well saved by Roberts.

A sell out crowd packed into Blackwall Meadows for arguably Darlington’s biggest game since the club was reformed in 2012


Into the second half  and Walsall’s  quality began to show and it became more difficult for Darlington to carve out any opportunities at all.

The deadlock was broken just after the hour mark after some poor defending of a set piece from the home side left former Sheffield United striker Lavery completely unmarked in the area and he went on to nod the visitors into the lead.

Walsall held on for the rest of the match with relative ease as they set up a second round home tie with Oxford United.

It was the end of the FA Cup road for Darlo,  who this season reached the First Round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since their club was reformed in 2012 .

Joe Wheatley’s last minute equaliser in the away tie  at Walsall is a moment which will live long in the memory of Darlington fans young and old.

The club will hope that the extra revenue the cup run has brought will galvanise the side in their National League North campaign as they currently sit five points outside the play off spaces.

Darlington XI: Liam CONNELL, Ben HEDLEY, Alex STOREY, Terry GALBRAITH, Michael LIDDLE, Will HATFIELD, Joe WHEATLEY (Laing 80), Omar HOLNESS, Jarrett RIVERS, Stephen THOMPSON, Adam CAMPBELL


Walsall XI: Liam ROBERTS, Cameron NORMAN, Mat SADLER, James CLARKE, Callum COCKERILL-MOLLETT, Rory HOLDEN, Gary LIDDLE (Bates 59), Liam KINSELLA, Wes MCDONALD (Scarr 83), Caolan LAVERY, Josh GORDON (Gaffney 79)

Subs: Jack ROSE, Dan SCARR, Elijah ADEBAYO, James HARDY, Alfie BATES, Rory GAFFNEY, Zak JULES

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