Places up for grabs in Darlington line-up

UNAVAILABLE: Stephen Thompson

UNAVAILABLE: Stephen Thompson

First published in Football Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Sports Editor

With one pre-season game to go and the campaign starting a week on Saturday, there remains places up for grabs in Darlington’s starting XI says, manager Martin Gray.

He admits the bulk of his favoured side is already chosen, though he has decisions to make over several positions and this evening’s game with Bishop Auckland at Heritage Park (7.30pm) could help the manager resolve selection issues.

And with so many options available due to several players being capable of playing in more than one position, finding the right formula is tricky.

“I’m still undecided over the team,” said Gray, who says at least one trialist will feature tonight. “There’s probably seven or eight pencilled in straight away, so we’re still looking for two or three to push through and put themselves in the team.

“I’m in a good position in respect of the number of players we have that can play in different areas, that’s a plus.

“We’re starting to look more closely at our game-plan and how we’re going to go about things. It’s coming together nicely at the right stage.

“We’re getting closer on the pitch to what we want to do, formation wise and the team shape on and off the ball.

“With Stephen Thompson suspended for the first game, you’ve got to manage your players, but that’s where we are and we’ve got to make sure everyone else is available.”

Jordan Robinson is also banned for Warrington’s visit on August 16, with both available for the trip to Spennymoor Town three days later.

Thompson is missing this evening due to being on holiday, though both goalkeepers, Peter Jameson and Mark Bell, are available.

With Jack Walker on holiday, Gary Brown was again selected at right-back at Whitby on Saturday while Liam Hatch was given almost an hour at centre-back, but Gray says he could yet be used as a striker during the forthcoming campaign.

Gray added: “Liam can play up front and in defence, he gives you both. We’ve yet to finalise where he’ll play, but he can play in either so we’ll see how things go.

“He hasn’t mentioned where he’d prefer to play, he’s just got on with his game.”

Tonight’s game is Quakers’ last of pre-season, unless Gray decides to arrange a game for this weekend.

He explained: “It was my choice to have a free Saturday, but we’ve got the option of getting a game on.

“We’ll see how Tuesday goes, but if it’s not what I expect then we’ll play on Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Darlington supporters can purchase tickets online for the game at Spennymoor via Town’s website: spennymoortownfc.co.uk/club-shop

The match is all-ticket, however, as the clubs could not come to an agreement over selling the tickets, they will not be available from Heritage Park or Blackwell Meadows.

A statement released by Quakers read: "Due to the club being unable to agree to Spennymoor’s terms, match tickets for this game will not be available for purchase from DFC or Quaker Retail."

The situation means that Darlington fans must purchase their ticket from the Brewery Field, online or make a postal application.

Tickets are £8 adults, £5 concessions (over 60) and £3 for under 16s and they are available from the Brewery Field on August 6 6pm-8pm; August 9 1.30pm-5pm; August 11 6pm-8pm; August 13 6.30pm-9.30pm.

Postal applications can be made by sending details of the number required, which stand, a stamped addressed envelope along with payment made payable to Spennymoor Town FC and sent to: Spennymoor Town FC, Darlington Ticket Application, The Brewery Field, Wood Vue, Spennymoor, DL16 6JN.

* Admission this evening is £6 for adults, £4 concessions and £2 for under 16s.

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