The latest instalment of my look back at Darlington's 1990/91 season. Click here for August, September, October, November, December January February and March. Or for the whole season in one handy post, check out this at the superb The Two Unfortunates.
Darlington kind of limped into April, winning only 1 of their last 6 games, and seeing their lead at the top of the table shrink slightly, but helped by other top teams like Burnley, Torquay and Northampton also struggling, they were still at the top.
April started with an Easter Monday trip to Chesterfield where I remember the Mansfield fanzine follow the yellow brick road selling copies to the away fans. It was an entertaining game and despite Darlo having to replace Gary Gill with Michael Trotter, they scored twice with goals from John Borthwick and David Cork, but that was only good enough for another draw.
That was followed up with a couple of home games, and remarkably despite being top of the table, there were grumblings at the time about the lack of entertainment and dull style of play. First up was Scarborough, and Darlo came away with three points, winning 2-1 with Andy Toman and Borthwick again providing the goals. Then a Tuesday night game against Lincoln was another disappointing 2 points dropped, Gary Gill scoring in a 1-1 tie.
We did get a crucial three points at Cardiff the next week thanks to an own goal, but could only get another draw at home against Maidstone after that, Toman scoring again in a 1-1 tie in front of over 4,000. That was a standard crowd for Darlo to finish the season off after February's great run.
All these draws meant what had been a big lead at the top of the table had dwindled to the point where automatic promotion was no longer a certainty, and we ended April by heading to Northampton. The Cobblers had had a very good season but it had fallen apart to the point where they were desperate for a result to stay in the playoff picture, so it was a big game for both sides and there was a very big contingent of nervous Darlo fans. We had no reason to be as Darlo absolutely destroyed Northampton in the first half.
Michael Trotter and John Borthwick scored two early goals, before Mitch Cook then scored one of the best goals I can remember from a Darlo player. From a Northampton attack, Prudhoe threw the ball out to Toman who took the ball forward before knocking it down the right wing to McJannett who crossed it to the left side of the box where Mitch Cook volleyed it first time back across the goalie into the net. Less than 10 seconds from Prudhoe to the goal, and finished off by a volley that would have been a great goal even without the impressive build up.
Disbelief on the terrace turned to relief and comfort as Darlo just shut up shop and very smoothly saw out the seconf half for the 3-0 win that all but secured a promotion spot. Celebrations of players and management on the pitch very much recalled the scenes at a similar point of the Vauxhall Conference winning season, when a win away at Stafford put Darlo within sight of the championship. With two games left, Darlo would need at least one win to secure the title, but had done just enough to get themselves to the brink of promotion.
Next up: May. Scunthorpe away, what could possibly go wrong with that? and finally, E-I-E-I-E-I-O, up the football league we go.