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Loan Watch: So Close

Written by Newcastle Utd

On his debut for Darlington, only the woodwork and a fine save denied JJ Hooper a goal as his new side lost in the cup

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

A lick of paint was all that seperated JJ Hooper from a goal on his Darlington debut, but the on-loan striker couldn't help the Quakers progress in the Northern League Cup against Spennymoor on Wednesday evening.

The 19-year-old was named in a much-changed Darlo starting XI compared to their last league outing, with league points the priority for Martin Gray's men as they aim to climb the divisions following their draconian demotion to the lower reaches of non-league by the Football Association last summer.

Darlington are currently top of the Northern League Division One while Spennymoor are second but it was Moors who took the lead at Heritage Park, the home of Bishop Auckland where Quakers currently play their home games.

Andrew Stephenson scored with a curling effort from 20 yards just before the half hour mark as the visitors went in at half-time with a one-goal advantage.

Hooper - who arrived on a work experience loan this week - almost equalised shortly after the break when Shaun Reay played him in but his strike crashed back off a post, then forced goalkeeper Robert Dean into a fine save before, in the final minute, Spennymoor broke for Steven Richardson to make it 2-0.

The Newcastle youngster played the full 90 minutes just over 48 hours after appearing for United's under-21s against Manchester United on Monday and Darlington's next game is in the league, away to Celtic Nation on Saturday.