PAUL Marriott picked up his first win as AFC Darwen manager as the goals flew in at Woodland Court - all five of them coming in the first half, writes Katherine Byrne.

Conor Gaul bagged a brace while Nick Hepple and Anthony Lynch also scored for the Salmoners before Ryan Connor replied for the hosts just before the break.


A strong Darwen side dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead after only nine minutes when Gaul found the back of the net after the referee had waved play on following a foul on Hepple.

Alsager had a couple of chances to level but their attempts were easily dealt with by Anthony Windle in the Darwen goal.

Darwen kept the pressure on and were rewarded with a second goal when Gaul picked himself up after he was fouled by Kyle Stubbs to convert the resulting spot kick in the 25th minute.

That lead was extended 10 minutes later when Hepple pressurised the home defence in to an error before calmly placing the ball past the keeper.

And 3-0 became 4-0 in the 38th minute when Lynch fired home.

But Alsager were given a lifeline when Connor pulled one back two minutes before the break.

The home side piled on the pressure in the second half but Darwen’s resolute defence didn’t crack.

And Jonny Hession had a chance to make it 5-1 but could not convert from close range before Windle made a great save at the other end to deny Alsager a second goal.

Elsewhere, Barnoldswick’s home clash with Abbey Hey was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and games at Nelson and Padiham against Runcorn Linnets and West Didsbury and Chorlton respectively also fell foul to the weather.

It was a similar story for Colne at Bootle while Bacup’s home match against Eccleshall was also called off.