8:00am Saturday 8th February 2014
By Craig Stoddart
Darlington's game today is subject to a 9am pitch inspection and should it get the go-ahead the Heritage Park pitch could become a mudbath, but Rob Ramshaw would have few complaints.
He enjoyed a fine debut at Kendal last week, earning fulsome praise from manager Martin Gray after starring in a 5-1 win, despite swamp-like conditions in Cumbria.
"It was a bit of a scrap, but I like that side of the game. I like getting stuck in and I enjoyed it," said the 20-year-old from Chester-le-Street.
"I give my all in every game and I thought I did well. I tried to keep the ball and it was hard on that kind of pitch."
If rain falls as heavily as forecast, the playing surface for this afternoon's crucial encounter with Curzon Ashton is sure to be similar.
Even if the fixture passes the 9am inspection, volunteers may be needed to attend Heritage Park in the hope Darlington can avoid the fate that befell Bishop Auckland's home game with Newton Aycliffe last night.
The match was postponed yesterday afternoon.
Ramshaw, on loan from Gateshead, is desperate for the game with Quakers' promotion rivals to go ahead.
"There are two home games in a row now, so I'm looking forward to playing in front of all the fans," said Ramshaw, whose last league appearance for Gateshead was on Boxing Day.
"As soon as Martin Gray rang I wanted to come back and play some football. I was in the squad at Gateshead but I wasn't playing much so I was keen to come.
"I loved my time at Darlo and I'm glad to be back. I was with the club in the under 12s and the under 14s, then I got released. I think it was Martin that released me when he was head of the academy!
"Craig Liddle brought me back and I was there for three years until it all went wrong, then I joined Gateshead.
"I always have a look on Twitter to see how Darlington are doing and I know there's still thousands of fans going to matches. So I'm looking forward to playing a home game."
Gray has Leon Scott available today after the completion of a three-match ban while, depending on the conditions, he could give Dale Hopson a start following the impact he made seven days ago by scoring two goals as a substitute.
Ramshaw would not be making way though, as the manager was delighted with his showing.
He said: "Rob's performance in midfield was outstanding. With his energy, he gave us some good quality on the ball.
"He drove forward, he loves a tackle, he's my type of player. I think the conditions suited him and he had a fantastic game.
"The way he played is the reason I've brought him in. I've tried to get him a few times this season and you could see why he's played in the Conference and scored goals at that level.
"I'm delighted that they've allowed him to come and let's hope he has a good month and that Gateshead have a good month so that we can keep him a bit longer.
"He wanted to come. He wants to be playing football, he's local and he's been with the club in the past."
Ramshaw's contract at Gateshead expires at the end of this season and he is hoping manager Gary Mills will offer him a new deal.
In the short term, the midfielder is looking forward to his return to Quakers.
He added: "It's a really tough level so it will be an experience for me and hopefully I'll be able to go back and play in the Conference.
"My loan at Darlington is for a month and then we'll see if Gateshead want me back. If not, I'd love to stay here and play a few more games."
Curzon inflicted one of Quakers' five defeats this season, a 1-0 loss in October, and the title favourites have lost only twice.
Away from home they have won ten of their 12 matches, though Darlington are in fine form having won ten of their last 11 games.
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