Mark Beck’s hat-trick sends Darlington through in FA Cup

Darlington celebrate one of Mark Beck's three goals against Southport. Picture: ANDY FUTERS
Darlington celebrate one of Mark Beck's three goals against Southport. Picture: ANDY FUTERS

MARK BECK’S first career hat-trick put Darlington into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup at the expense of ten-man Southport at Blackwell Meadows.

Beck’s treble, which gives him a very creditable nine goals in nine games, was the first by a Darlington player at Blackwell Meadows, the first at home in seven years, and the first in a home FA Cup tie for 22 years.

Manager Alun Armstrong was clearly relieved at not having to trek to the North-West for a midweek replay, and that his side had managed to record their fourth successive win.

“What can I say about the big man,” he said. “We’re getting to know him better, and he’s getting to know the players around him.

“The ball is coming into the box in the right areas, and he’s doing his bit. We’ve got to keep feeding him. His understanding of the game has improved massively. Everything about him is improving – this is what happens when you’re a striker and you’re scoring goals. You don’t think about anything else apart from your normal game.

“He’s in that sort of mood at the moment, and the longer we keep him there, then the better. But he’s not a one-man team, the other lads are supplying him with deliveries and crosses. We’ve got to keep that going.”

Armstrong wasn’t happy with his side’s overall display against Southport, who had left-back Michael Carberry sent off inside the first minutes but led 2-1 at half-time.

“Performance-wise, we were rubbish in the first half,” he admitted. “We were chalk and cheese compared to the Bradford game last Monday. We didn’t do what we’re good at. We did it once, when their lad got sent off, and I expected us to go on and win the game.

“Their second goal was one of the worst we’ve conceded. Both full-backs were at fault, they knew that. The performance wasn’t anywhere near what we’re capable of, but I was happy with the work and result.”

There was a flurry of goals at the start. Quakers conceded from a left-wing corner that was flicked on for Niall Watson to score with a stooping header, but they were level when Kaine Felix was brought down by Carberry in the box as he chased a ball from new signing Diogo Barbosa.

The defender was red-carded, and Beck sent keeper Tony McMillan the wrong way.

But the ten men were back when Watson made ground down the right and crossed into the middle where Tyler Walton headed against the post and reacted first to score from the rebound.

Barbosa and Lambert were both just off target, then McMillan pulled off a good one-handed save from a Beck header.

In the second half, a Southport attack caused panic in the middle of the Darlington defence which caused Jassem Sukar to clear against his own crossbar, but then Quakers took control.

A powerful shot by Kallum Griffiths was headed out for a corner, which Lambert flighted perfectly for Beck to beat two defenders in the air and head past McMillan.

And Beck got the winner with ten minutes to go. Lambert worked his way into the box on the left and from an acute angle hit a left-foot shot that caught McMillan by surprise, and after the keeper parried the ball into the air, Beck was there to head the ball in for his hat-trick.

It could have been more after that, but sub Jacob Hazel hit the outside of the post and just missed the target with another.

The draw takes place at lunch-time on Tuesday.