8:00am Saturday 4th January 2014
By Craig Stoddart
DARLINGTON face their third postponement inside nine days as today's game at home to Clitheroe hinges on a 9am pitch inspection.
The recent heavy rain has left standing water on the Heritage Park pitch, leading to last night's match between Bishop Auckland and Prescot Cables being postponed.
Today's game could suffer the same fate with match referee John Matthews due to inspect the playing surface this morning.
Although he could delay a final decision until closer to kick-off, more rain is forecast between 10am-2pm and calling the game off would leave Darlington kicking their heels for the third time in just over a week.
Quakers saw both their Boxing Day and New Year's Day fixtures postponed, although the latter has now been rearranged.
They will travel to Kendal Town on Saturday, February 1 and the match that was scheduled for that day, away to Prescot Cables, has been shifted to Saturday, March 22. Yet to be arranged is the home game with Wakefield.
Manager Martin Gray cannot look for solace in the enforced break as he says Quakers' squad is fit and ready to play.
He said: "The break would maybe help us if we had one or two players carrying an injury that needed a rest.
"But we haven't got any like that at the moment. Apart from Gary Brown and Paul Weldon, everyone is fit.
"When everyone is fit you want the games played, but there's nothing we can do about the weather so we've just got to hope Saturday's game is on."
Darlington, in fifth, are looking to return to winning ways, having been held to a 2-2 draw by Salford City seven days ago, a result that brought their run of six successive victories to an end.
Like Quakers, ninth-placed Clitheroe were also out of action on New Year's Day, but last Saturday they knocked Warrington off the top of the table with a surprise 1-0 win.
They came close to defeating Darlington too, back in September, but after holding a 2-0 lead at half-time ended up losing 3-2.
Looking back, Gray said: "We won the game in the 90th minute, but it wasn't one of our better performances.
"Since then we've improved and we've got some momentum that we need to keep going."
Should today's match be called off, it would be a financial blow to Darlington as their next home game is three weeks away.
They host Cammell Laird that day after travelling to Harrogate Railway Athletic and Ossett Albion on the next two Saturdays.
The highest crowd of Quakers' season was in attendance last weekend, when 1,514 were at the home game with Salford City.
"It was an unbelievable crowd last Saturday," said Gray. "It was the ninth highest crowd outside the Football League and it just goes to show how fanatical the fans are.
"We want to repay them for their loyalty, especially the hard core who have turned up in the mornings to try and get games on."
* Darlington are asking for volunteers to help get today's game on. Supporters are asked to attend Heritage Park by 8.30am and bring a pitchfork.
* Darlington manager Martin Gray and assistant Brian Atkinson will attend a fans' forum on Monday, January 6 at Blackwell Meadows. Also in attendance will be former striker Steven Johnson.
Starting at 7pm, the evening will allow supporters an opportunity to ask any questions they might have.
More information will be released on the club's fundraising and share initiatives, which were announced just before Christmas.
* Former Darlington defenders Joe Tait and Dan Smith are due to leave Gateshead. The club announced yesterday they have been made available for permanent transfer or loan.
Also heading for the exit door at the International Stadium are defender Luke O'Brien and striker Adam Boyes.
© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group