9:00am Tuesday 24th December 2013
By Craig Stoddart
The influence of Darlington's senior players will ensure the team can maintain its excellent run of form, believes manager Martin Gray.
They go into the Boxing Day home game with second-bottom Wakefield having won their last six matches, a run that peaked on Saturday when Gray's men won 7-0 at Burscough.
Quakers, five points off leaders Warrington, can move up to second if results go their way on Boxing Day.
"The lads are demanding of each other. They don't get complacent, we don't let them,'' said Gray.
"Alan White is a really good influence - he barks at people when he has to - Leon Scott's the same and Jordan Robinson is coming out of his shell.
"There's lots of leaders, lads who lead by example. Stephen Harrison is the same, he ticks those boxes and has won this league before, so knows what it takes to compete at this level and that's why we brought him in.
"He's got the experience we're going to need in the team because we're going to have a big push in the second half of the season.
"We know what he's about, he's a good addition and it was a good debut on Saturday."
Although Gray applauds White's leadership qualities, he was left disappointed that the defender collected a booking for dissent at Victoria Park on Saturday.
After a Burscough player had fouled Dale Hopson, White became engaged in a lengthy discussion with referee James Wilson, with the outcome being the ninth caution of the defender's season.
Having already served one suspension for reaching five yellows, he will sit out two games once he reaches ten.
"I was really disappointed with Alan White's discipline,'' insisted Gray. "He got himself another booking, that's another booking closer to a suspension. We were six or 7-0 up at the time, why even get involved with the referee?''
Gray was otherwise delighted with his team's display at Burscough and admits the team almost picks itself at the moment.
Harrison replacing the released Bruno Pilatos was one of the few changes he has made during the winning run, and that means no place in the starting XI for Dale Hopson and Nathan Fisher.
Gray added: "It's healthy when you've got two lads that have been in the Football League and Conference on the bench. That competition for places brings the best out of players.
"It's hard to change a winning team. Why change it?
"Nathan needs a goal, but it will come because he's got loads of quality. We know that he needs a goal, he knows it too, and it's only a matter of time before he gets one.
"Dale brings lots of movement, looks good on the ball and is a good addition to the squad."
Terry Galbraith and David Dowson were withdrawn at half-time on Saturday when the score was 4-0, and Gray explained: "We were just resting them.
* Darlington's club shop, Quaker Retail, will not be open today due to a leak in the roof in the covered market. The shop reopens on Friday.
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