DARLINGTON attempt to get out of their rut when they take on another struggling team this evening, this time hoping for a much-needed three points.

They dropped into the bottom half of the table on Saturday when their run without a win stretched to seven games by drawing 0-0 with Leamington, a team that had previously not kept a clean sheet this season and lost seven of their previous eight games.

At Blackwell Meadows this evening is another out-of-sorts side, visitors FC United of Manchester having lost seven of their ten games and were third-bottom before last night’s fixtures.

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The Manchester club’s cause was not assisted yesterday when they lost former Quakers winger Jason St Juste, who has joined Trafford, and midfielder Nathan Lowe signed for Southport.

Darlington have issues of their own, however, with Dom Collins becoming their latest defensive casualty on Saturday by limping off with a groin strain.

He is unlikely to be involved this evening, and though manager Martin Gray has been hoping to bring in a loan signing he would have no qualms about handing a first start to Jack Vaulks, the 18-year-old centre-back who slotted into the team seamlessly as a substitute on Saturday.

Tom Portas was withdrawn too, reporting a hamstring issue, but he is more optimistic of starting.

James Caton hopes to start too, the forward having alternated between the substitutes bench and the starting XI in recent weeks, Saturday seeing him starting the match reasonably well before being replaced in the second half.

The summer signing has played both up front and on the wing but completed 90 minutes just once in his ten appearances so far, though was nursing an injury early in the season, and admits he has been frustrated not to score more than his solitary strike.

“I’ve played in both positions. It’s been a bit frustrating, and I definitely think I should be on at least three goals,” admitted the former Dover player.

“For whatever reason I’ve missed chances and it’s not just me.

“I like the ball to my feet so wherever that is, playing in a No. 10 role or wide.

“I enjoyed it in the first half on Saturday. The Leamington player I was playing against got subbed early on, they brought on someone else, and I was happy with how I did but I need to start playing 90 minutes.

“I came off the bench at Chorley and thought I did well, I got an assist, and feel like it’s in the latter part of games, the past 20-25 minutes where things start to open up.

“Teams gets tired and I think what’s when I play my best football, when it opens up.”

Darlington have scored just three goals in their last seven matches, but Caton is confident that the barren run will soon change.

He said: “There’s no pressure coming from above, everyone puts pressure on themselves but at the minute it’s not been happening in front of goal.

“I’ve no doubt that once we start scoring goals we’ll go and batter teams.”