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Darlington three wins from promotion
Darlington have this week announced they will be hosting an end-of-season get-together on May 3, by which point they hope to be celebrating winning promotion from the Northern League.
The destination of the title is in their own hands, but only after a dramatic week that saw injury-time goals affect matches involving Quakers and title rivals Spennymoor Town.
On Tuesday, Moors scored twice in injury time to beat West Auckland, the next night Darlington were pegged back by Bishop in a 2-2 draw, and on Thursday Spennymoor suffered only their second defeat of the season after a 95th-minute goal by Penith.
It all means that should Quakers win their last three games, starting today at Shildon, they will be Northern League champions. They also play Team Northumbria (April 27) and Guisborough Town (May 1) at Heritage Park.
But Martin Gray is aware that his team must up their game if they are to win at Dean Street today.
Quakers, perhaps showing signs of tiredness, put in a lethargic performance while beating Celtic Nation on Monday, while Bishops deserved their draw with Darlington on Wednesday, when two penalties by Kieran Megran brought an end to the team's 17-game winning run.
"We've got to focus on Saturday and do everything we can to win our remaining three games," said Gray, who has no new injuries to worry about.
"I'm confident that we can do it, 100 per cent confident. The players have been fantastic all season, but we've got to respond now, that's what it's about.
"We've drawn a game, but it can't be bad when you've won 17 in a row and then drawn a game.
"As much as we were disappointed on Thursday, we've put ourselves into a great position to challenge for the league.
"There are only three games to go, we're more or less at the end now. We're in a position whereby we're challenging and everyone is fit and ready to go.
"We got no new injuries the other night so we'll have a full squad to choose from. I think everybody is tired, but you'd be more tired if you were bottom of the league."
Gray was left lamenting a failure to take chances against Bishop, though the high winds did have an impact.
He said: "The conditions were a big factor in the game, certainly in the second half. It was impossible to get out of our own half at times. We needed a third goal but couldn't get it.
"I didn't think it was a fair result because we had chances to score in both halves. You've got to take your chances though."
Shildon beat Hebburn Town 3-2 on Tuesday and drew 1-1 with Team Northumbrian on Thursday at Dean Street, where the Railwaymen have not lost since November.
They have won 11 of their 17 home matches and although ninth in the table, they have played fewer games than any other team in the division.
"They are a good team. I went to watch them on Thursday to see how they got on," said Gray. "Sam Garvie's a good player and they've got a few good players. I've noticed they've got a few coming back from injury, players that were missing three or four weeks ago, and they've picked a few results up. They'll be looking a bit stronger than they were when we played them at home and they had their minds on the Vase."
Darlington defeated Shildon 4-0 at Heritage Park, though the game came between their two legs of the FA Vase semi-final.
Shildon will be without several players because of injury, while star striker Garvie will have a fitness test on an ankle injury.
Manager Gary Forrest said: "One or two players have been running on empty recently because we've been playing three games per week for a month now. We might only have one fit player to go on the bench because of all our injuries, but I'm sure we'll give a good account of ourselves."
* Around 1,200 tickets have been sold in advance of today's game and 400 will be available on the gate. Admission is £6 and £3 concessions.
* Darlington's end of season awards night is on Friday, May 3 at the Dolphin Centre. Admission is £3 and tickets are available from the club shop.