12:47am Saturday 1st February 2014
By Craig Stoddart
A PITCH inspection this morning will determine whether Darlington’s match at Kendal Town goes ahead.
With rain persistent in Cumbria yesterday and more forecast today, there are fears the game will be postponed for a second time.
Fourth-placed Quakers were due to play at Kendal on January 1, but the game was called off an hour before kick-off when many travelling fans were already at the Northgate Vehicle Hire Stadium.
Another wasted trip should be avoided today if the game is called off after an inspection by the match referee at 10.30am.
Darlington have not played for a fortnight as their game at Heritage Park against Cammell Laird could not be played due to a waterlogged pitch, while Kendal have not been in action for three weeks due to postponements.
Another blank weekend would be hugely frustrating for Darlington, especially for new signing Rob Ramshaw, who is keen to get into action.
Having not yet trained with his new team-mates after joining on loan from Gateshead yesterday, the central midfield player may have to settle for a place on the bench, particularly as Quakers have been in good form of late.
Manager Martin Gray has little reason to change the line-up, while Leon Scott’s suspension still has one match to run.
Should Quakers find themselves without a fixture today, Gray will have his players in for a training session, which is how he filled their day a week ago to ensure fitness levels remain high.
He cites the players’ condition as being a factor in the club’s good run of form – nine wins in ten games – and is keen to ensure the lack of matches does not have an impact.
“We missed a game last Saturday so we had a really good training session, doing a lot of fitness work,” said the manager.
“It was just a case of keeping on top of the fitness levels, not having a game was a good chance to do that.
“We didn’t have the balls out very much at all. We did some boxing and some circuit training, something very different.
"The players really dug in. And we had a futsal tournament as well.
“There was a few quid on it and the midfielders pinched it. They were split up into three different teams, defenders, midfielders and forwards.
“Dale Hopson and Stephen Thompson were sharp, as usual. Quick feet, clever.
“The lads trained fantastically well in midweek as well, really competitive, and the standard was high, so we’re ready for the game.
“We go into the game with a clean bill of health and the lads are desperate to play.”
Long-term absentee Gary Brown is Darlington’s only injury concern, and he hopes to make a return before the end of the season.
Gray added: “Fitness has always been good at the club.
It’s helped us to dominate games late on and it’s when we’ve scored a lot of goals.
“We pride ourselves on keeping the lads as fit as we can and the lads look after themselves in their own time too. They’re all members of gyms and they’re in good shape.
“Last Saturday was about pushing them to the next level.”
Meanwhile, Quakers’ position in the table was marginally strengthened last night when Ramsbottom United were deducted three points for fielding an illegible player.
A statement released by the league said: “Ramsbottom United Football Club had been found guilty by the Football Association of playing Danny Warrender in the game against Clitheroe on November 26 while the player was suspended and had been fined £200 by the FA.
“The League therefore charged Ramsbottom United with playing an ineligible player in the game which they had won. The club had pleaded guilty to the charge and after taking fully into account the written observations submitted by the club the Board’s decision was that the three points Ramsbottom United won in the fixture be deducted from its playing record.
“Ramsbottom will not be appealing against the decision and therefore league tables will reflect the points deduction.”
Ramsbottom remain seventh, nine points adrift of Quakers having played a game less.
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