‘Bare bones’ Darlington aiming for the top

Darlington's Jack Lambert scored  a hat-trick against AFC Telford United last week <i>(Image: Steve Halliday)</i>
Darlington's Jack Lambert scored a hat-trick against AFC Telford United last week (Image: Steve Halliday)

Darlington are looking for their third straight win when Alfreton arrive at Blackwell Meadows on Tuesday evening.

Thanks to two excellent long-distance away wins at Telford and Kidderminster, Quakers could go top of the table if they win, and league leaders Brackley lose at Southport.

But manager Alun Armstrong admits that his squad is down to the “bare bones” with right back Kallum Griffiths ruled out, centre half Jake Lawlor very doubtful and another centre half David Wheater facing a fitness test.

“I have to look after our players, because we’re down to the bare bones. If we can get Wheatz ready, then I’ll be delighted.

“Alfreton’s manager Billy Heath will set his team up as hard to beat and be physical, so we have to match that.”

Armstrong was very proud of his players after the battling 2-1 win against Kidderminster on Saturday, and said; “I’ve never had a group as strong as this, mentally and physically. They’re playing for each other, and there’s a great camaraderie in the dressing room.

“I’m really pleased with what we’ve got in the dressing room. I’d love to add to it, but sometimes when you have a tight, closely knit group, that works wonders. At this moment in time, it’s bringing dividends.

“I’ve compared the stats between this season and last season, and there’s not a lot of difference in terms of possession of the ball and chances created. It’s good that we’re taking more chances and we’re keeping the ball out of the net at the other end.”

Quakers are on a high after two hugely important away wins.

They won 4-1 at Telford last Tuesday, with Jack Lambert scoring a hat-trick and Alex Purver scoring from long-range to put them up to third place, just two points behind joint leaders King’s Lynn and Brackley.

Then on Saturday they won 2-1 against Kidderminster after two goals from Mark Beck gave Quakers their first victory at Aggborough for 11 years.

After Saturday’s match Armstrong admitted: “The players worked their socks off, they were on their knees in the changing room.”

And with matches coming thick and fast at the moment fitness will be key to getting the job done.

Armstrong said: “They have been phenomenal in the last two games. I can’t ask for anything more, I’m so proud of them. They put their bodies on the line.”

But he knows tonight’s match could prove pivotal for the Quakers’ season.

“This game is a very important one,” said Armstrong, “and we’ve got to get the job done.

“We’re in a good position but there are going to be ups and downs.

“When we lose a game, we’ve got to deal with it better as a group and as a club.

“Every team is going to have a blip, but it’s how you deal with it and how you move on from it as a team and as a club.

“Hopefully we’ve got over ours. Saturday’s win was a fantastic result and we’ve got to build on it.”

Alfreton are also pushing for the play offs. They’re eighth in the table, and have good away form, having picked up 12 points from eight away games.

Quakers have another home game on Saturday against AFC Fylde.

Darlington, meanwhile, have confirmed their FA Trophy tie against Alfreton will take place on Saturday, November 19 (3pm). Admission will be reduced.