Three-goals in as many minutes after half time lit up Town’s 5-1 impressive victory away at Darlington.
Simon Power’s perfectly executed free-kick after eight minutes secured a narrow lead at the break before goals from Lloyd Kerry and Connor Hall either side of a Will Hatfield strike marked a topsy turvy start to the second-half.
Jack Muldoon then added a fourth on the hour mark before Aaron Martin rounded off the night when he headed home George Thomson’s corner on 65 minutes to overcome a spirited performance from the home side.
Town were last at Blackwell Meadows back in early 2020 when goals either side of the break from Jack Diamond and Lloyd Kerry sealed an early round progression en-route to the clubs delayed FA Trophy triumph.
Fortunately the downpour that was present during the team’s warm-ups abated for kick-off and, looking to rebound from the weekend defeat at home to Sunderland, Town were quickly on the front foot when Jack Muldoon and Lewis Page combined down the left. Page’s first-time cross was flicked on by Danilo Orsi into the path of Aaron Martin who headed over the bar.
Town were on the mark soon after though. After Josh Falkingham had been fouled on the edge of the area Power confidently strode forward to dispatch the free-kick perfectly around the wall into the top corner past a helpess Tommy Taylor in the home goal.
The home side featured a familiar face in George Smith who featured for Town during the 2019/20 promotion season whilst Will Smith and Falkingham also faced off against their former side.
Mark Oxley was forced to throw his body into the melee to punch clear. He was on guard moments later when Ben Hedley’s rasping drive fizzed narrowly over his crossbar.
Danilo Orsi was presented with a golden opportunity to open his account with the club when Muldoon’s chip sent him clear but the summer arrival from Maidenhead striker hit over when well placed.
The hosts had responded well to falling behind with Town pushed onto the back foot as half-time beckoned. Hedley’s teasing cross looped just beyond the far post with Oxley and Ryan Fallowfield shepherding the ball to safety.
Kevin Santos then robbed Fallowfield but the winger cut back on to his left-foot when he should have got his shot away and the ball was cleared to safety.
Kerry looked to have built a comfortable margin for Town just minutes into the second-half when he nipped in to tap home after Orsi had been denied by Taylor but less than a minute later Hatfield was quickest on the market to hit home past Oxley.
With the crowd barely having time to pause, Town then restored their advantage when Page’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Martin with Hall applying the finish.
Simon Weaver then made a trio of substitutions on the hour with Nathan Sheron, Warren Burrell, George Thomson replacing Fallowfield, Page and Falkingham.
Town added to their lead when Muldoon glanced home from Kerry’s cross before Martin added his name to the scoresheet when he powerfully met Thomson’s corner to leave Taylor picking the ball out of the net for a fifth time.
Orsi’s smart turn and shot almost capped off the night but his effort curled inches wide with Town then largely content to comfortably play out the remaining minutes.
Darlington: Taylor, Hedley (Griffiths, 80), Beeden, Storey, Smith (Nelson, 80), Wheatley, Purver (Ravenhill, 69), Rivers (Mondal, 55), Hatfield, Dos Santos, Charman (Hope, 61).
Subs not used: Martin, Gilchrist, Armstrong, Winstanley, Woodhouse.
Goal: Hatfield (49)
TOWN: Oxley, Fallowfield (Sheron, 60), Page (Burrell, 60), Smith, Hall, Falkingham (Thomson), Kerry, Power, Muldoon, Martin (Armstrong, 72), Orsi.
Subs not used: Cracknell, McArdle.
Goals: Power (8), Kerry (48), Hall (50), Muldoon (61), Martin (65)