9:00am Wednesday 26th March 2014
By Craig Stoddart
Darlington this evening play what manager Martin Gray admits is a must-win game when they contest their first match since being given the green light to return to the town.
Members of Darlington Rugby Club voted in favour of the Blackwell Meadows groundshare on Monday, meaning Quakers can begin working towards moving back to the town.
An exact date for the club's move has not been announced - Quakers hope to be based there from sometime next season - and which division they will be playing in by the time of the homecoming is also uncertain.
With Curzon Ashton almost certain to have sealed top spot, Darlington hope to be involved in the play-offs and this evening they face relegation-threatened Wakefield at Heritage Park, where Gray's team have been based since the beginning of last season.
"We know we've got to win three points on Wednesday and that's our mindset," said the manager, whose side have not won any of their last three games.
"We've got to put a good performance in and get three points."
Having been held to a 0-0 draw at lowly Prescot Cables on Saturday, Quakers will be sure not to underestimate Wakefield, who have the division's joint-top scorer in 24-goal Robert Boardman.
"It was Prescot's cup final so they tried 20 per cent more because of that. You're going to come up against that whether you're playing Curzon or Wakefield.
"They always give their best against Darlington, which is what they should do when they cross that white line.
"Wakefield have got a weapon up front, we know about him, and we won't underestimate them - you can't afford to in this division."
Gray has signed two players since Quakers' last home game, striker Ian Ward from Durham City and winger Adam Mitchell, who was man of the match on Saturday, has joined from Sunderland - both will be in the squad this evening.
Chris Hunter, Leon Scott and Jordan Robinson are all steadily recovering from their respective injuries and the manager hopes to see at least one of them return when Quakers head to Ossett Town on Saturday.
"They're coming on and within a week or two we should see them both back," said Gray, who could be tempted to rest Gary Brown.
After a long-term ankle injury, the committed defender, who was used in midfield on Saturday, has now played five games in 15 days.
David Dowson was rested against Prescot, with the manager opting for Amar Purewal and Nathan Fisher in attack.
The manager explained: "I felt he's looked heavy-legged so it was time to change it.
"You try to change things as a manager, to freshen things up because it's a squad game and we've got options.
"Dows has been great, so has Fisher, Amar and Stephen Thompson. But we need to protect them and keep them ready because we've still got a lot of games to come."
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