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Purewal on course to reach his target
With 13 goals to his name, Darlington's joint-leading scorer Amar Purewal is just over halfway towards meeting his target, which is to beat the 24 he netted last season.
Coming in 19 appearances in all competitions, 13 goals is clearly good going, especially considering the Evo-Stik League has turned out to be tougher than Purewal had predicted.
After Darlington won promotion last season, a handful of players and non-league observers reckoned the move into Step 4 would be seamless and even less demanding than the Northern League.
Having previously played at the level with Durham City, Purewal was well placed to judge.
After winning the first two games, which included a 3-0 success at today's opposition Bamber Bridge, those forecasts appeared accurate, but Quakers have since suffered five defeats - one more than in the whole of the last season - and Purewal has had to re-evaluate.
"I probably under-estimated the league a little bit," admits the striker, who scored in last Saturday's 4-1 win at leaders Warrington Town.
"At the end of last season I said it was going to be a little bit easier, but like every league, it is picking up.
"The Northern League is getting better and the Evo-Stik is definitely better than it used to be. It's harder than it was compared to last time I was in it.
"The quality of the players is better and players are in your face. When I played for Durham it was a case of one team has the ball and the other would stand off, but it's different now and we have to deal with it.
"Warrington were a physical team, but I thought we dealt with them well. If you look at the size of some of our lads, we're not going to get bullied."
While last Saturday's result was impressive, the performance really caught the eye.
Quakers were on top throughout against a team who had not lost in 17 league matches. It was a fourth successive win to continue Quakers' resurgence.
Martin Gray's side had suffered a dip in form during October and November, but their good run means that, if Farsley and Curzon do not win today and Quakers beat Bamber Bridge, they would leapfrog today's opposition into second spot.
"Going to a place like Warrington, who are top of the league, a draw probably would've been all right. But we went for the three points," added Purewal. "We are quite a few points behind so we went for the win.
"It's the same every game, no matter who we're playing we want three points.
"You talk about kick-starting the season. I think that win might have done it for us and hopefully we can put together a consistent run like we did last year.
"We went 23 games without losing and we won most of them, so hopefully we can do something similar.
"In the early part of the season we were mixing with a few formations and systems and personnel as well.
"I think the manager is happy with the personnel we've got now.
"We've been consistent recently, which is what we need to put a promotion run together.
"Stephen Thompson is in the hole and picks up bits, David Dowson runs in behind and I win the flick-ons - that's the game-plan. I suppose it helps when teams have two big men at the back because you need someone in there to battle."
Thompson is tied with Purewal on 13 in all competitions and both have 11 in the league.
Having netted ten goals in his first 19 appearances last season, the statistics suggest Purewal is performing better this time around.
"Every striker knows how many goals they've scored," he added.
"I want to score more than I did last year, I got 24, and I've got 13 altogether now, 11 in the league.
"It's going canny well so far, I've hit a purple patch and hopefully I'll keep going.
"Last season, towards the back end, I put a little run together and got a few goals in the last few games, but I've been a bit more consistent this time.
"It feels like the team is picking up and hopefully my performances will as well."
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