Darlington aim to take winning league form into FA Cup

Darlington's Mark Beck scored twice on Monday against Bradford PA. Picture: STEVE HALLIDAY
Darlington's Mark Beck scored twice on Monday against Bradford PA. Picture: STEVE HALLIDAY

Darlington manager Alun Armstrong is demanding the same again from his players when they face Southport in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup at Blackwell Meadows.

Quakers start their FA Cup campaign with a home game against their National League North colleagues, with the ultimate aim of reaching the first round proper, which they have achieved twice in the past three seasons.

Darlington should have a good idea of what to expect, having lost 1-0 to the Sandgrounders in August, and since that defeat at Haig Avenue in their results have turned into victories.

They have won their last three matches against Boston, Farsley and Bradford PA.

“I thought we deserved something out of the game at Southport because we created enough chances to win,” said Armstrong.

“The footage of Jacob Hazel’s disallowed goal showed that he was onside, so we were unfortunate to lose.

“We didn’t play badly that day, but we didn’t play as well as we did on Monday night at Bradford. If we play at the same level as we did on Monday, then I’m sure we’ll win the game.

“But it won’t be easy, because they’ll be up for it, they’ll be wanting a good run as much as we do. They’re in a little bit of a rut at the moment, so it’s up to us to keep them down there.

“We have to work our socks off as we did on Monday. Every footballer wants to get as far as he can in cups, and as a management team we’re no different. We’ll be setting our stall out to win the game, and get ourselves into the next round. We’ve had a taste of a good FA Cup run before, and we want to experience it again.”

The 3-1 win at the Horsfall Stadium on Monday was Quakers’ third on the bounce, and Armstrong, who was unhappy with a number of mistakes that led to Bradford’s goal in the opening minutes, said: “We were on the front foot throughout the game. We won the second ball, turned their defence, and created plenty of chances. We got the goal we deserved just before half time, and in the second half we maintained the intensity and won the game.”

After scoring twice against Bradford, striker Mark Beck has now scored six in eight league games to make him one of the division’s top scorers, and Armstrong said; “His second goal was great, it was similar to the one he scored at Chorley earlier in the season.

“His link up play was really good, and he won every header. The other players are starting to realise where he’s going to head the ball, and they’re running off him.”

Defender David Wheater could return to the squad after recovering from injury, but midfielder Marcus Maddison is likely to be out still.

Managed by long-serving Liam Watson, Southport haven’t won since they beat Quakers - they taken one point in five games and scored once.

But they did well in the FA Cup last season, beating Chorley and Spennymoor before losing to Altrincham in the last qualifying round.