More to come, says Darlington boss Alun Armstrong
Darlington manager Alun Armstrong has told his players to keep pushing themselves as they prepare for their away game at Chester on Saturday.
Thanks to five successive league wins, Quakers have climbed up to third in the table, just a point below leaders King’s Lynn and level on points with Banbury, who have the same goal difference but have scored more goals.
“The easy part is getting to third place, staying there is the hardest part, because you have to maintain it,” he said. “The lads have done ever so well recently, I can’t ask for anything more in the league than they have in the last month.
“I’m delighted with what they’ve done. They’ve won some games ugly, they’ve played some good football in parts in games, but I can’t remember a team in this league ever having a full 90 minutes of dominating a game. Bradford PA was probably the closest for us last month after we conceded an early goal and came back to win 3-1.
“There’s a lot more to come from this group and we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves. The lads are pushing each other because there’s competition for places, but anything can happen on the day. We’ve got to make sure that we’re right at it from the first whistle.”
Quakers were knocked out of the FA Cup by Hyde United last week, when they failed to find the back of the net and were beaten by a late goal when centre half David Wheater was clearly struggling.
“We need a reaction from the players from the Hyde defeat. They’ve been great in recent weeks, but it never went our way at Hyde.
“We weren’t brilliant but I thought we did enough to win the game.
“We never took our chances, but we got done by a miscommunication. I thought a lot of lads struggled on Hyde’s surface. We know that Chester have a very good pitch, so we’ve got to get the ball down and play the way that we want.
“Chester have got some very strong players, but we’re in a good mood, we’re in a good place, and if we stay in pretty good shape, then we can get the right result.
“We have to concentrate on this game. Chester have just had a good win in the FA Cup, so they’ll be full of themselves. It’s a tough place to go to, but I’ve got every confidence in what we’ve got here.”
Last season Quakers were within sight of their first win at Chester since their Football League days when they led 2-0 in the second half, but they ended up drawing 2-2.
Armstrong added: “We should have won the game at their place last year. We were 2-0 up and conceded two goals which were really bad. I think that typified the way we conceded goals last season, we’re a little bit different this season.
“We’re a lot more solid. We might not be as open or expansive as we used to be, but we’ve got to stop conceding goals. We’ve done that quite well this season and we’ve got to continue that and put the chances away at the other end.”
Chester are 13th in the table, having won two and drawn one of their five league games. They changed managers in the summer, with Calum McIntyre taking over from Steve Watson.
Defenders Kallum Griffiths and Wheater, plus midfielder Marcus Maddison, are all unavailable.