Darlington aim to go top of the table

Adriano Moke could return against Brackley after illness. Picture: STEVE HALLIDAY <i>(Image: Steve Halliday)</i>
Adriano Moke could return against Brackley after illness. Picture: STEVE HALLIDAY (Image: Steve Halliday)

Darlington can go top of the National League North table if they beat Brackley at Blackwell Meadows.

Six straights wins – four of them at Blackwell Meadows and two on their travels – have put Quakers into a great position to overtake King’s Lynn, whom they play next Saturday and are on FA Cup duty today.

But defeating Brackley, who are in mid-table after losing in the play offs last season, won’t be a simple task.

“To go top of the league would be nice, but it doesn’t mean anything at this time of the season,” said manager Alun Armstrong, who won the league’s manager of the month award for September.

“It just means that we’re doing well on the field, and we must be doing something right.

“It is going to be a really tough game. We know what Brackley are about. They’ve got a new manager in there, so we’re hoping that they’ve tried to change a few things and we might catch them on the hop a little bit. It’s going to be difficult because Brackley are a really good side, we’ve got to make sure that we’re up for the game and take it to them.

“Defensively, Brackley were the best team by a mile in the league last season, their keeper kept a load of clean sheets. We’ve learned quite a bit this season, and hopefully with our goalscorers and creative players, we can make our chances count.

“We must continue what we’ve been doing in recent games. The work ethic of the players has been fantastic and we’ve got to continue that.”

Armstrong believes what could be the biggest crowd of the season so far will make a big difference.

“I hope there’s a big turnout for the game, the lads deserve it because they’ve worked extremely hard in the last four games to get where they are. The fans’ backing will be massive. If we can get 2,000 it will be fantastic. The noise they generated in the second half against Blyth in the last home game helped us massively – they have to make sure they keep supporting the lads.

“We play with a little more purpose now rather than keeping the ball for the sake of it. We’ve adapted pretty well, and we have the players who are capable of mixing it up.

“The players have been fantastic whatever team we put out there on the field, they’ve been pretty well-drilled and really well-organised. They know their jobs. Only the Hyde game was massively disappointing, we conceded a goal because of a miscommunication.

“Hopefully it will be an entertaining game, we’re not going to sit back and soak their pressure up. We’re going to get at Brackley and hopefully they’ll struggle. We’ve got quality players who are hitting form, and other players who aren’t quite yet – we know that – but they’re still doing their jobs for the team.”

Brackley, meanwhile, parted company with manager Kevin Wilkin a fortnight ago, and replaced him with Roger Johnson. They reached the play offs last season for the fourth time in six years.

They are tenth in the table, partly down to the fact that they are one of the lowest scoring clubs in the league, with just ten goals in 11 league games this season.

Defenders Kallum Griffiths and David Wheater are still missing for Quakers because of injury, while midfielder Adriano Moke could return after illness.