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Liddle calls on team to finish with a win
The season will be over by 3pm today and, while relegation is already assured, there remains unfinished business as far as Craig Liddle is concerned.
The circumstances in which Darlington have operated during administration meant a patched-up team fulfilled fixtures from January.
Teenagers and journeymen were thrown together, while players often played through injuries, in a desperate attempt to avoid dropping down a division that ultimately proved too big a task.
Yet, despite the players at his disposal, it greatly frustrates Liddle that Darlington have not won since December - a run that stretched to 20 games with last Saturday's defeat at Forest Green Rovers.
That defeat came four days after a drawing at Newport County, and Liddle wants the supporters who have stood by the club during these turbulent times to be repaid when Quakers host bottom-of-the-table Kettering today (kick-off 1pm).
"I've told the players that they're in the last chance saloon for these supporters who were again phenomenal in coming down in their numbers last weekend," said Liddle, ahead of a match against a team who have also been relegated.
"They drove five hours to come and see us when our fate was already sealed. If anybody deserves a win on Saturday it's them.
"It costs a lot of money to travel the country, so I'll never forget the backing that we've received this year in troubled times. It's strengthened my bond with the fans because they've been phenomenal.
"It means a lot to me to get something for the supporters because it means as much to them, if not more, because when we're long gone they'll still be here.
"So the message I'll be relaying to the boys is that we've got to do something for the fans so that they can end their miserable season with a smile on their face."
Youth team goalkeeper Jordan Nixon will make his Darlington debut today, the 18-year-old starting after Jordan Pickford's loan from Sunderland expired.
"It's going to be an opportunity for him," said Liddle. "He's still only a young lad, but he's brave so he'll come for crosses and he's got good reflexes so on Saturday he'll be in the shop window for either other clubs or to secure his future here if we're continuing."
Liddle has ensured that all of the club's players, including those injured or suspended, will be at the match so that they show thanks to the fans.
Supporters are fundraising to save the club and in January held a collection for the players who at that point were not being paid by the club.
Similarly, Liddle believes the senior pros who stayed at The Northern Echo Arena despite not receiving their wages also deserve credit.
He added: "The boys who've stood beside this club deserve the backing of the public as well and if we can sign off with a victory, it would be what everyone deserves.
"If supporters want to thank the players at the end of the game, and one or two might want to, I'll make sure they're ushered back out to the pitch to say their goodbyes. The fans need to know how much the players have appreciated the support they've been given.
"It's been incredible. Everybody knows the circumstances we've been under and 99 per cent of the supporters have been great. One or two get frustrated when we lose, but everybody has stuck with us right to the very end and that just sums up how good and how genuine Darlington supporters are."
Liddle's dual role at Darlington, particularly during the early stages of his tenure as interim manager, is well-documented with the 40-year-old having to take care of both youth and senior teams.
The demands places on him have brought intense pressure and he freely admits to looking forward to the end of the season.
"I need to get away on holiday," he said. "My wife keeps saying to me that she can't wait to get her husband back and the kids want their dad back. So come Saturday I'll have to spend some time with my family and look at my own future to see what's going to be.
"If it is my last game, and I'm not saying it is, I want a win so that we can say thank you to the supporters.
"The CVA issue is ongoing so, like the Barrow game, this could be the last ever game for the football club."
Kettering cannot overtake third-bottom Darlington as their goal difference is far inferior, but Bath could end the season above Quakers should they win at Alfreton.
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