We travel to Tamworth on Tuesday in high spirits following another victory on Saturday against Curzon Ashton (writes Simon Hahn). A late winner from Dave Syers earned us our fifth victory in six games, another crucial three points which moved us up to 13th place.
We are now eight points ahead of the bottom three and six behind Spennymoor in seventh.
Tamworth were challenging for the playoffs in the first half of the season, as they did last season when they just missed out.
However, in recent months they have suffered a disastrous drop in form which sees them firmly in the relegation battle. They are one of three teams on 37 points, five behind ourselves and three ahead of danger.
During this poor run they have sacked their manager Andy Morrell, with their run coinciding with Reece Styche leaving the club to join ourselves. Our earlier meeting in November saw Tamworth win the game 1-0. Despite an encouraging performance shortly after Tommy Wright’s arrival Tamworth hit us on the break to score the only goal late on.
Styche joined after that game and in 17 games since Tamworth have only won twice. They have not won in their last nine games.
Manager Tommy Wright says that Quakers have come a long way since we last played Tamworth in the Vanarama National League.
Quakers lost 1-0 to the Staffordshire side in the league back in November in one of Tommy’s early games in charge after he took over from Martin Gray, but he says that Quakers have greatly improved since then.
“We’ve changed for the better since we last played them,” he said. “I think we’ve come a long way since we lost to them.
“We’re having a good run at the moment with five wins out of the last six matches, but that doesn’t mean to say that we’ll be taking Tamworth lightly.”
Three former Tamworth players will be returning to one of their previous clubs – Reece Styche, Greg Mills and Josh Heaton – and Tommy said; “I’m sure this is a game that Reece in particular will be looking forward to after his time here.
“He was quite happy at Tamworth and said that he would only leave to join me again, which he did when I went to Darlington.
“I’m sure Reece will be going to Tamworth with the aim of showing Tamworth what they’ve missed and looking to get back on the scoring trail.”
Kick off on Tuesday is 7.45 pm, updates on the game will be made from the club’s Facebook, Twitter and Website. Live Commentary will be broadcast from Darlo Fans Radio at 7.30pm.
James Caton will have a fitness test on a hamstring injury
Dom Collins is on the road to recovery, and did the warm up last Saturday.
Tom Portas is also progressing well.
Quakers last five matches:
10th March Curzon Ashton (home) won 1-0 Syers
Darlington: Pears, Trotman, O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Heaton, Galbraith, Caton (sub Gillies 46), Glover (sub Mills 75), Styche, Syers, Thompson (sub Scott 90+2)
Subs Bancroft, Vaulks,
24th February Kidderminster (home) won 2-1 Heaton, Thompson
Pears, Trotman, Heaton, Vaulks, Galbraith, Turnbull, Wheatley (sub Scott 69), Saunders (sub Gillies 69), Syers, Thompson, Styche
Subs: Bancroft, Glover, Mills
17th February Brackley (away) lost 0-3
Pears, Trotman, Heaton, Galbraith, O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Wheatley (sub Glover 78), Gillies, Syers, Mills, Saunders
Subs: Scott, Bancroft, G Brown, Milburn
10th February Bradford PA (away) won 1-0 Syers
Darlington: Pears, Trotman, O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Heaton, Galbraith, Gillies (sub Brown 84), Wheatley, Styche (sub Mills 89) , Syers, Thompson
Subs: Scott, Bancroft, Saunders
3rd February Blyth (home) won 3-0 Thompson pen, Styche, Syers
Pears, Trotman, O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Heaton, Galbraith, Caton (sub Gillies 78), Wheatley, Styche (sub Saunders 82), Syers, Thompson (sub Scott 88)
Subs: Bancroft, Brown
Leading scorer: Reece Styche 9 (inc 2 in Trophy) Stephen Thompson 8
Current league position: 13th (eight points above relegation zone, six points below the play offs)
Position in form table of last six games: 3rd – below Harrogate and Southport
Away form: played 16, won 3 drawn 5 lost 8, points 14 out of a total of 42 Goals scored 16, against 29
Best away winning margin 2-0 v Salford
Last five matches
10th March Southport (away) lost 0-3
Stevens, Burns, Morley, Shaw, Jones, Lane, Knights (Taylor 63), Verma, Asante, Gray, Sharpe (Powell 55)
Subs: Kettle, Jezeph, Thomas
6th March Salford (away) lost 1-2 Kotwica
Stevens, Burns, Sharpe, Shaw, Jones, Lane, Knights (Kotwica 76), Verma, Asante, Thomas (Taylor 62), Gray (Morley 80)
Subs: Stabana, Kettle
17th February AFC Telford United (home) drew 2-2 Asante, Verma
Stevens, Stabana, Sharpe, Thomas (Shaw 54), Jones, Kettle, Taylor (Powell 71), Verma, Asante, Reid (Gray 54), Knights
Subs: Coulson, Kotwica
13th February Blyth (home) lost 0-3
Stevens, Burns, Sharpe, Kettle, Jones (c.), Shaw, Powell (Reid 59), Thomas (Kotwica 63), Asante, Verma, Knights
Subs: Taylor, Stabana, Coulson
10th February Alfreton (away) lost 1-2 Knights
Stevens, Burns, Sharpe (Reid 89), Kettle, Jones (c.), Coulson (Stabana HT), Taylor, Verma, Asatne, Shaw, Knights (Powell 79)
Subs: Lane, Kotwica
Last win v Nuneaton 2-0 on New Year’s Day – -a run of nine games without a win
League position: 18th
Position in form table of last six games: 22nd
Home form: Played 16, won 6 drawn 4, lost 6 points 18 (out of a total of 37), goals scored 27, against 26
Best home win: 4-1 v Curzon Ashton
Tamworth will include Aman Verma, who was part of the Darlington team that won the FA trophy in 2011. We beat Tamworth early in that run – were you in the 432 who watched that game?
Darlington include former Tamworth players Greg Mills, Josh Heaton and Reece Styche in their squad. Styche scored ten league goals for Tamworth before his move to Darlington, and is still their top scorer
Former Darlington manager Mark Cooper was a player and a manager of Tamworth
Tamworth 2 Darlington 1 (Galbraith pen), Darlington 3 (Galbraith, Thompson, Cartman) Tamworth 2
Darlington 0 Tamworth 1
Darlington: Wilczynski, Trotman, Galbraith, Wheatley, Collins, Brown, Mills, Syers, Caton, Gillies (sub Saunders 78), Thompson
Subs not used: Scott, Bancroft, Portas, Heaton
Tamworth Rowley, Burns, Morley, Deeney, Jones (c.), Lane, Upton, Fox, Reid (Taylor 69), Verma, Knights (Powell 81)
Subs: Coulson, Shaw, Hayden
Here are the highlights of that game
Vanarama National League North
Gainsborough v Brackley, Kidderminster v York City, Southport v AFC Telford United, Stockport County v Boston, Tamworth v Darlington