The Black Cats are preparing for life in League One this season and came to Blackwell Meadows looking to put last season’s disappointing campaign behind them.
But Tommy Wright’s men went head to head with Sunderland and claimed a victory courtesy of an early goal from Jordan Nicholson – as a result of a terrible defensive mix-up which allowed the striker to run on and slot home.
Wright, speaking after the game to the club’s official website, said he was more than happy with the performance.
“I loved the fact we won a game of football against a League One team,” he said.
“They’re [Sunderland] early on in their preparations but we won a game of football against a League One team and I can’t take that away from the boys.
“It’s encouraging, it’s exciting. They’re a team of full time professionals who will be playing League One football next season. It’s a massive achievement for the boys.”
The Quakers could’ve won by a much bigger margin with Harry Saunders and Reece Styche both going close.
The home side also had their keeper to thank for keeping them in the game at times – but Wright said the performance and getting minutes in the players belts was more important than the result.
He said: “The fact we got 90 minutes into three of the back four and quite a lot into the rest of the team – that’s important. It’ll hold them in good stead and we’ll pick it up again on Saturday.
“The lads put a right shift in and can go home happy with themselves tonight.”
It was pressing from the Quakers’ front line that led to the goal as Sunderland tried to play out from the back but were caught in possession. Nicholson slotted home – to the delight of his manager.
“The pressing from the front really worked,” he said. It was put on a plate for him [Jordan Nicholson] but he still has to put it away and I’m delighted he’s off the mark.”
Darlington were strong defensively when called upon and Wright also spoke of his happiness at his sides performance at the other end of the pitch.
“The defenders headed everything all night – they were strong and organised,” he said.
“We looked like a team who had played together for a long time and we haven’t. That shows a lot of encouragement. “It was a great overall evening of football,” he added.
Darlington now look forward to their trip to PSV Eindhoven on Saturday.
Their National League North campaign gets underway against Curzon Ashton on August 4