DARLINGTON’S Friday night postponement meant an unscheduled free weekend, but now Martin Gray’s players are keen to return to action this evening against Hebburn Town.
Quakers were due to play Guisborough Town on Friday, but a frozen pitch put paid to the game – Heritage Park’s first weather-related postponement for almost two years.
This evening’s match could also be in doubt, but Gray expects it to go ahead.
He called his players in for training on Saturday and it proved to be beneficial, says the manager.
“The lads are champing at the bit to get back out there,”
said Gray. “It’s frustrating for them when a game is called off, so they’re all really keen to get playing again.
“Friday was frustrating because we had prepared for the game and were looking forward to it, but at least most of the other matches were called off at the weekend.
“It wasn’t all bad because it meant we could have a training session on Saturday morning and we were worked on a lot of things.
“We did a bit on fitness – we had them running and they worked hard – shape, freekicks and tempo.
“The session gave Terry Galbraith another chance to be involved with the lads.
He’s trained with us twice now and has integrated well.”
Galbraith will make his Darlington debut at left-back after joining from Dunston last week.
Jack Norton will be in goal, though Craig Turns is making a good recovery having dislocated his shoulder in Quakers’ last match ten days ago at Team Northumbria.
Although Gray has not given a time when Turns may return, he says the keeper is “ahead of schedule”.
Hebburn were involved in one of only three Ebac Northern League Division One games to survive on Saturday, recording a 3-1 win at Newcastle Benfield.
“They’re not bad, they can give anyone a game and they’ve had some good results,”
said Gray of eightplaced Hebburn, who were promoted last season and have one of the best away records in the division.
Saturday’s win, which was watched by Quakers’ chief scout Harry Dunn, was their seventh on the road – only Spennymoor Town have had more joy away from home.
Liam McBryde will not be involved for the visitors after being made available for transfer while Jeff Forsyth, who was sent off on Saturday, is unavailable due to work commitments.
The clubs met in the Durham Challenge Cup in September. Quakers made eight changes, goalkeeper Chris Porter was sent off early on and lost 3-0.
Meanwhile, supporters are asked to bring an item of food to tonight’s game as the club collects for the food store at King’s Church in the run up to the Christmas period.
The food store aims to serve the Darlington community by providing emergency food resources for anyone in the borough who has found themselves unable to provide food for themselves or their families.
Tins of beans, soup, peas, fruit or a bag of pasta are suggested.
A spokesman for the Darlington FC Community Interest Company, who are organising the collection, said: “We thank you for supporting the King’s charity, if we all pull together we can make a huge difference to a lot of local people this Christmas.”