Fixture pile-up is not a worry for Quakers boss

2:50pm Monday 17th February 2014

By Natalie Casey

Darlington hope to play their first home game in six weeks today against Lancaster City.

But with a 9.30am inspection planned at Heritage Park the game is likely to be another victim of the weather.

Manager Martin Gray claimed he is not worried about the potential pile-up of fixtures as the Quakers look to push for promotion.

He commented: "It's the same for everyone.

"I don't think there'll be too many more games called off between now and the end of the month, so I'm not worried.

"We had the same problem last year, and we got by then so it's no different now.''

Gray is confident his side will be more than ready to host Lancaster, who sit three places below them in the Evo-Stik North table.

Darlington, who breezed past Kendal Town in their last fixture, organised a friendly against Consett after last weekend's home game against Curzon Ashton was called off.

Gray said: "It was necessary to have the game against Consett to keep fitness levels up. And we put in a good performance, kept a clean sheet, so I'm happy. It's all about keeping the squad focused and fit so that they're ready when we do play competitively - which they will be."

Waterlogged pitches earlier in the week saw several non-league fixtures called off and yesterday's rain meant the backlog is likely to continue growing.

New loan signing Rob Ramshaw, who had an impressive debut against Kendal, is particularly eager to get going in front of the home fans.

Gray said: "Rob is really looking forward to playing. He's been training well and I know he's eager to carry that into a performance in front of a home crowd, which I fully believe he can do."

Ramshaw is enjoying being back at Darlington as part of a month-long loan spell from Gateshead.

The 20-year-old played with the Quakers at youth level before being released by Gray.

Yet the manager has clearly changed his opinion of the player, bringing him back to the club and heaping praise on the midfielder after his last performance.

Earlier in the season, Lancaster held Darlington to a goalless draw, and the Dollies will be hoping for a good result again if they are to achieve a play-off spot.

Gray, whose side are unbeaten in 11 games, conceded: "I'm not worried about dropping points.

"No manager thinks like that. We're going into the game with a plan to get three points."

Reports of Gary Brown returning to training this week will also give Darlington a boost, with the captain not having played since July due to injury.

Gray said: "It's massive for him, but we're not going to rush him.

"He's worked really hard to even get to this point, so he won't be playing again just yet. Maybe in the next two or three weeks if all goes well. But to have him back in training is a boost for everyone."

Other than Brown, Gray has a full squad at his disposal. Leon Scott is available after serving a three-match ban.


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