Scarborough Athletic were on the wrong end of a Boxing Day massacre as their impressive run of form came to an abrupt end.
Darlington just had too much strength, organisation and quality as they comfortably beat Boro by a 3-0 scoreline.
There was little to warm the travelling fans on a freezing festive afternoon in Bishop Auckland, as Darlington demonstrated the levels that Boro must attain of they are to bag any success this season.
Boro were on a high heading into the fixture, having won each of their last six matches in all competitions.
Two changes were made by joint-bosses Paul Foot and Bryan Hughes, as James Bennett was replaced in the midfield by Paul Robson and Joe Cracknell moved back in between the sticks.
Cracknell was soon involved in what would be a very busy afternoon for the on-loan keeper.
He managed to make a great early save to keep out David Dowson’s half-volley, but he could do nothing with nine minutes on the clock.
Former Whitby Town striker Graeme Armstrong found a pocket of space in the area and he brilliantly finished into the bottom corner.
Boro’s attack, who had been a menacing threat in recent games, were forced to feed on scraps, as the Darlo central defensive pairing of Alan White and Chris Hunter allowed them few opportunities.
Ryan Blott had one of these when he wriggled free of the tight grasp, but his low shot was held.
At the other end the power and pace was too much for the Boro back-line, and if it wasn’t for Cracknell Darlington would have been out of sight by the break.
He hung on well to a Steven Thompson strike, and then fortunately for Boro, when Cracknell was beaten, Dowson fired narrowly over.
Boro continued to soak up the pressure and they hung on until referee Helen Conley blew for the interval.
There was more of the same at the beginning of the second half, with Nelson Mota driving over and Cracknell gathering Dowson’s flick header.
Boro finally began to ease themselves back into the fixture and they started to apply some pressure of their own.
The highlight of this period saw the ball worked into the path of Blott, but Peter Jameson saved well.
Sadly for Boro the game was killed off with 15 minutes left.
The referee bizarrely allowed play to continue when Jimmy Ghaichem was pushed to the floor and sub Adam Mitchell took advantage with a smart shot into the bottom corner.
Boro’s heads dropped after this and they were lucky the floodgates didn’t open further in the final minutes.
Darlington did add a third when Armstrong headed home his second of the afternoon and that was sufficient to wrap up a clash to forget for Boro.