New Darlington signing Joe Leesley straight into line-up at King's Lynn

Darlington signing Joe Leesley, in action for Stockport County <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
Darlington signing Joe Leesley, in action for Stockport County (Image: Newsquest)

DARLINGTON will include new midfielder Joe Leesley for their top-of-the-table clash at King’s Lynn this afternoon.

Quakers missed a chance to go top of the table in their own right last Saturday, when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Brackley, and instead go to The Walks level on points with their Norfolk-based opponents, but with a slightly worse goal difference. Nevertheless, Quakers are still unbeaten in their last eight league games.

Leesley can play in a variety of positions. He scored 22 goals for Harrogate Town when they were promoted from National League North to the National League four years ago, but in recent seasons, has been playing as a left wing-back or orthodox left-back.

Darlington boss Alun Armstrong said: “He will be a great signing for us. I tried to get him in the summer, but it didn’t quite work out.

“The opportunity arose earlier in the week, and I had to fight tooth and nail to get him.

"He’s got a great delivery on his left foot, and if we had him in last Saturday against Brackley, then I think he would have dealt with their right winger who caused us problems in the second half. He’s one I definitely wanted to bring in.”

Armstrong says that his side will be going all out for the win today.

“At the start of the season, if someone had said to me that we would be in a first-v-second game in October, then I would have laughed," he continued.

"We’re doing really well, although I was a bit baffled by some fans booing at the end of the Brackley game. It was extremely disappointing considering that we’d got 19 points out of the previous 21.

“We’re a part-time team that is maybe fighting above our weight at this moment in time, and we’ve got to continue that.

“For us to be successful, we have to over-achieve massively. Nothing’s changed on that front, expectation needs to be toned down a little bit.

"We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing and see where it gets us. The fans have got to remember that we’re nowhere near the finished article, we shouldn’t be up there doing what we’re doing.

“People expect us to go to King’s Lynn and turn them over. We’ll give it a real good go – that’s a certainty – and we’re not going to sit back. But it will be a real tough game because they have just come down from the National League and when they were in this division three seasons ago, they ran away with it.

"The lads have got to continue doing what they’ve done over the last nine games, and if they do, then they’ll be absolutely fine.”

But the manager points out that the players need to produce the same level of performance that has seen them climb steadily up the table in recent weeks.

“There’s a been a little bit of everything in recent games," he added. "We've shown plenty of grit and determination, and we’re not conceding as many goals. The second goal last Saturday was a ricochet, Jassem (Sukar) knew nothing about it. I can’t remember our defence being so tight.

“But we need to achieve the same level of performance from the players if we’re going to do well. We need plenty of support from the fans as well - the away fans have been superb this season, especially at Chester.”

The Linnets were relegated from the National League last season, and have lost only once in 11 league matches this term. The teams have played each other just once before, in September 2019, when King’s Lynn won 2-0.

This is the start of a hectic schedule of seven games in three weeks for Quakers, with away games coming up against Buxton, Telford and Kidderminster, as well as home matches against Leamington, Alfreton and AFC Fylde.