Caretaker boss Noel Hunt fumes at Swindon’s performance against Darlington

Noel Hunt was left fuming with Swindon's performance against Darlington
Noel Hunt was left fuming with Swindon's performance against Darlington (PA Archive)
18:19pm, Sat 07 Nov 2020
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Swindon caretaker manager Noel Hunt was left reeling after seeing his Sky Bet League One side suffer a shock 2-1 FA Cup first-round defeat at home to non-league Darlington.

Former Newcastle striker Adam Campbell struck twice to send the Robins crashing in their first game since boss Richie Wellens left for Salford.

Hunt said: “It’s bitterly disappointing. I hope everyone in that dressing room is hurting tonight because I am.

“I feel like we’ve let the club down in terms of the performance and being strong enough and doing the right things – in the last 20-25 minutes they weren’t.

“We have to stop giving away silly, sloppy goals. You’ve seen it again tonight, we keep making the same mistakes and it’s got to change.

“The performance overall was disappointing. We should have scored twice before we gifted them their goal.

“You’ve got to live and learn in this game, there are consequences for performances like that.”

National League North side Darlington are 65 places below their hosts in the football pyramid.

But the visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Campbell latched onto a dreadful back header by Jonathan Grounds before slotting past goalkeeper Matej Kovar.

Brett Pitman tapped into an empty net five minutes before half-time to make it 1-1 after Joel Grant’s low right-sided cross but Campbell struck again to dump Swindon out of the cup.

With an hour played, Campbell took aim from range and his shot took a heavy deflection off Grounds which wrong-footed Kovar and rolled into the Swindon net for 2-1.

Swindon tried in vain to force extra-time but both Hallam Hope and Pitman could only blaze shots high and wide of the Darlington goal.

It is the first time Darlington have reached the second round since 2007 and manager Alun Armstrong felt they were fully deserving of their victory.

Armstrong said: “It’s great. We said we wanted to do better than last year and we’ve done that, but the lads want to push on.

“I just want to thank the lads today, I thought they were outstanding and what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved is amazing.

“It’s no fluke, we’ve had a little bit of a lucky goal but we’ve had an opportunity where we could’ve scored a third goal and I think we fully deserve the result.

“I can’t remember our keeper making many saves in the second half. I think we are worthy winners to be honest.”

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