Darlington cannot afford to be so wasteful in front of goal this evening when they are given a second opportunity to overcome West Auckland in the FA Cup.
They need to be better in both boxes, that was Martin Gray’s verdict after seeing his side held 1-1 on Saturday at the Seagrave Stadium.
The teams replay their preliminary round tie at Heritage Park (7.30pm), though Darlington would already be looking ahead to a home match in the next round with Blyth Spartans on September 13 had Graeme Armstrong been sharper in front of goal.
Gray said: “We need to come out of the blocks flying and put in the same performance that we did for the first hour on Saturday.
“We need to be better in both boxes. Our defending was not good enough for their goal on Saturday and we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.
“That’s two games this season when we’ve missed more than enough chances to have the game won by half-time. Burscough away was the other.
“For all the possession and chances we had, both games should’ve been wins and that’s what we talked about after Saturday and it’s what we’ll talk about before the game on Wednesday.”
One solution to Quakers’ profligacy could be Ryan Noble, a former Sunderland striker who made a name for himself with a glut of goals in the youth teams at the Stadium of Light.
His arrival was confirmed on Monday, but the 22-year-old, who has not signed a contract, will not be eligible until Saturday’s league match at Droylsden.
West Auckland have had an indifferent start to the season, winning two and losing two, though new manager Anth Smith was without a number of first-choice players on Saturday.
Gray added: “They’ll be strong again, especially if they’ve got players like Mattie Moffat and Brian Close back. They both couldn’t play on Saturday.
“So we’re expecting another hard game, they’re one of the best teams in the Northern League.”
Gray will again be in the main stand this evening as he serves the second of a six-match touchline ban, something the manager admits to feeling hindered by.
“It’s frustrating, I don’t enjoy it all,” he said. “I’ve got good staff who know what I want and I can trust to get the message across. But it’s not something I enjoy at all.”
* Admission is £6 and £3. Season tickets are not valid and access to seating in the main stand and the stand behind the goal will be on a first-come, first-served basis. There will be an eight-page programme, available by making a donation to the club.
Access to both the car parks will again be by donation to the club, and spaces are on a first-come, first-served basis.