8:00am Friday 25th October 2013
By Craig Stoddart
FOLLOWING a run of four games without a win and a miserable midweek, Darlington bid to get their season back on track when they travel to Lancaster tomorrow.
But manager Martin Gray believes they need to stop relying so heavily on Stephen Thompson.
The leading scorer took his goal tally for the season to nine in Wednesday's FA Trophy tie with Buxton, which Quakers led 3-0 at half-time but a second half collapse preceded a penalty shoot-out defeat.
The manner of the loss overshadowed another top class finish from Thompson, whose first goal of the evening at Heritage Park was his fifth of the campaign from outside the penalty area.
Gray said: "Thompson was good again and we've seen that many a time over the last year, but we can't always rely on him.
"It's about the team, but sometimes we rely too heavily on him. He often pulls something out of the bag, a bit of magic, but we've got to do more as a team over 90 minutes."
In the aftermath of the defeat, Gray was hugely disappointed with his players and expects better in Lancashire tomorrow.
"It just goes to show that the game is never over, even at 3-0," he said. "When it became 3-1 they suddenly had something to go for, at 3-2 they were right back in it.
"Then we conceded anther scruffy goal. Nobody closed down on the edge of the box.
"That's how their goals were scored, it was poor defending by us as a team."
Lancaster, who have lost their last two games, are managed by Darren Peacock, the former Newcastle United defender. He succeeded Neil Wainwright after the former Quakers winger had a spell as joint manager last season.
Peacock was in the main stand on Wednesday, though he left before full-time, and he is anticipating a large contingent of Darlington fans will travel to their Giant Axe ground.
He said: "We want to play in front of big gates. It should be a positive thing for the players. They way I look at it they've got to think that so many people are coming to watch them play football.
"I'm really looking forward to it, I can't wait.
"They will have watched us and we've had a look at them and it should be a good game.
"It's a good chance for us to get back on track."
Meanwhile, league officials have given Darlington a game at Cammell Laird on Saturday, November 2.
The date was available due to it being the day that the next round of FA Trophy matches is being played.
The fixture means, because Darlington were at Buxton last weekend and at Lancaster tomorrow, they will be on the road on three successive Saturdays.
They are next at Heritage Park on Wednesday, October 30 against Sunderland RCA in the Durham Challenge Cup, but as in the previous round at Harton & Westoe, Gray will make wholesale changes.
He said: "We're in these cup competitions because we have to be, but the priority is the league and we'll approach the next cup competitions with very different personnel.
"We'll be looking to give younger players and squad players a chance."
Quakers also face Blyth Spartans in the Doodson Sport Cup at Heritage Park on November 13.
Between the RCA and Blyth games Quakers have home league games against Ramsbottom United on Wednesday, November 6 and Northwich Victoria on Saturday, November 9.
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