AFC DARWEN boss Nick Lloyd hailed his side's battling qualities as they kept their promotion dream alive by reaching the North West Counties League Division One play-off final.

The Salmoners beat Chadderton 2-1 in front of a bumper crowd of 359 at the WEC Anchor Ground on Tuesday night to set up a home final against Hanley Town on Saturday (3pm).


Lloyd's side went into the game on an 11-match unbeaten run which included a league cup victory over Atherton Collieries.

In fact Chadderton were the last side to get the better of Darwen then they won 1-0 in the league in late March.

But there was to be no repeat as second half goals from Paul Coote and a late Anthony Lynch strike put Darwen into the final after Adam Turner had given Chadderton a first half lead.

"That summed us up, we don't give up," said Lloyd of his side's performance.

"The mentality of the squad is great, we have lads who weren't involved tonight but who are bouncing after the win.

"We went 1-0 down and were finding Chadderton difficult to deal with, they have two quick lads up front.

"But we told the lads what we wanted in the second half, to get the ball down and start passing and get the ball out wide, because we didn't do that enough in the first half.

"Cootey scored with a gem of a finish, and showed why he's got over 30 goals this season, and when the winner came there were a number of lads in there trying to get the ball over the line, not just Lynchy."

Darwen started the brighter on Tuesday night with Karl Turner heading wide and Ryan Steele going close with a free kick.

But the visitors grew into the contest and took the lead on 23 minutes when Turner scored with a driven effort.

Darwen responded after the break and were level on the hour when Coote pounced on a poor clearance to equalise.

Both sides then had chances to win it with James Curley firing over for the visitors and Coote heading wide.

And it was the home side who made the breakthrough five minutes from time when Lynch side footed home after a fine move down the right hand side.

In the other side Hanley Town defeated Holker Old Boys 3-1.