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Quakers are back on the Trophy trail
Two seasons since their last involvement in the FA Trophy, Darlington today make a welcome return to the competition they won in 2011.
Chris Senior became a hero that day when he scored a last-minute goal against Mansfield Town at Wembley, and he returned to the town this week to launch a new book, In The Dying Seconds.
Along with Chris Moore and Jamie Chandler, who also played that day, Senior attended the launch to recount memories of a special day.
The Football Association denied Darlington entry to the competition last season as, following a four-division demotion by football's governing body, the club obtained a playing licence beyond the deadline for entry into the competition.
This, in turn, prevented them taking part in the FA Cup, something clubs are not allowed to contest until they have had a season in the Trophy.
Today's game is Quakers' first Trophy tie since losing at Grimsby in December 2011 and manager Martin Gray is relishing the opportunity to enjoy a cup run.
He is much less interested in local cup competitions, which he views as an inconvenience and uses as an opportunity to field weakened teams.
The Trophy, however, holds much more significance and he will field a strong XI today at Ossett Town with the aim of repeating Wednesday's performance, when Darlington demolished Ossett Albion 7-0.
Amar Purewal bagged two of the goals but missed chances to score more before Gray replaced him early in the second half.
Gray said: "He was a bit disappointed. He had two one-on-ones and three or four chances to get his third goal.
"But I was looking at the bigger picture. It's not about players getting hat-tricks, I was thinking about Saturday and protecting players.
"I wanted to get him off half an hour early and give him a bit of breathing space before Saturday."
In 2010-11, Darlington entered the Trophy at the first round proper stage.
They would need to win four ties to reach that round this time and, with prize money at stake - £2,500 for today's winners - Gray wants a cup run.
He said: "It's so important and I'm very keen to get a good run in the Trophy.
"The club won the Trophy a couple of years ago and I just want to make sure we are really focused for this competition when we go down to Ossett.
"We need the same mentality as Wednesday because it will be a tough game, but we're going down there full of confidence and to put another big shift in."
While Quakers coasted to victory against second-bottom Albion, their rivals from half a mile away in Ossett are expected to provide a sterner test.
Town are undefeated in their past nine fixtures in all competitions and have signed Jason Price, a player with substantial Football League experience, who scored against Darlington on the opening day of the 2003-04 season for Hull City. Gray, though, will have little to fear if his team is able to repeat Wednesday's display.
He was delighted with the team ethic on a remarkable evening that saw Darlington go 2-0 up with goals after 17 and 64 seconds.
"From the keeper right through to the forwards, it was a brilliant team display," he said.
"Amar could've gone for his hat-trick, but he back-heeled it for David Dowson. That shows you that it was very much a team effort.
"All the goals were within the 18-yard box, there were no long-range goals, everything was about working the ball, passing and getting crosses in.
"A lot of the goals came from wide players. That's something we've been asking for, and what was pleasing was that we kept our standards high in the second half."
Darlington have kept four clean sheets in their past five games - a 3-0 loss at Ramsbottom being their only blemish - and Gray added: "It's been nice to get two clean sheets back-to-back and nine goals - you couldn't ask for more than that after the nightmare at Ramsbottom.
"We don't play in the league until a week on Saturday, so we've got to have a real good go at this cup competition."
* Goalkeeper Craig Turns has joined Northern League side Consett.