8:00am Saturday 24th August 2013
By Craig Stoddart
Darlington are adjusting quite nicely to their new surroundings, having won both games in their first week in the Evo-Stik First Division North, and they aim to maintain the momentum during this Bank Holiday weekend.
Today they head to Farsley before hosting Kendal at Heritage Park on Monday, hoping to build on wins over Warrington Town and Bamber Bridge.
Those victories came with contrasting performances.
While they were patient and took their chances against Warrington, in midweek they secured a deserved 3-0 win that saw them in command from the start.
The encouraging display came despite the team having spent four hours on a coach beforehand due to traffic problems on the M6, leading to a delayed kick-off.
Manager Martin Gray said: "I'm pleased that we've got a couple of good results under our belts and Tuesday was a very strong performance. Saturday was always going to be a bit rusty.
"In terms of the standards we set, the players have continued from last season. They started the day the coaches and I came to the club.
"Terry Galbraith was a lot better on Tuesday than he was on Saturday, and Jonny Davis put in another big performance.
"The more the team play together the better they'll become."
Not that Darlington need to improve greatly, at least not if they can repeat Tuesday's performance.
Bamber Bridge manager Neil Crowe was so impressed he says Darlington are likely to win the league.
"Anybody who finishes above them will win the league," he said.
"It's going to take a good team to finish ahead of them.
"I spoke to their manager after the game and he's got a very big budget to work with. They're a bit like Chester were a few years back when they were in this division.
"Their manager told me he's basically hand-picked all the best players in the North-East.
"The players he's got are the best you can get at this level of football.
"They were very fit and strong and could play good football as well."
Darlington do not expect any problems on the A1 en route to Farsley, who finished 14th and have begun this term with one win and one defeat.
"It's not as far to Farsley, an hour and a half I think, so we're not expecting anything as bad as Tuesday on Saturday, or for the rest of the season," added Gray.
"The traffic wasn't ideal, obviously. Sometimes it affects your mindset more than anything else. It can be used as an excuse, so you've just got to say 'let's get out there and be on top of your game from the start'.
"You've just got to get on with it. We got changed on the bus, told the team who was playing when we were on the bus, got here and went straight out on to the pitch.
"It wasn't the first time it's happened to me though, it's happened a couple of times before with Darlington.
"When Hodgy was manager we left Darlington on the day of the game to go to Torquay for an evening game, got there at 7pm and had to start pretty much straight away.
"When Dave Penney took over he won his first game at Tranmere in the cup. We had to get changed on the bus when we were going across on the M62, but we ended up battering them!"
Andy Johnson will play today having shaken off a knock sustained on Tuesday that caused him to be substituted as a precaution.
He has netted in both games so far, scoring twice in the first half on Tuesday.
Gray added: "His confidence is high. The goal he got on Saturday gave him that bit of self belief that he needs and his goals on Tuesday were a typical forward's finishes."
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