TOMMY WRIGHT’S rebuilding job at Darlington became tougher yesterday when he lost two key players.

On a busy afternoon for Quakers, striker Mark Beck moved to Harrogate Town and Adam Bartlett rejoined Martin Gray at York City, reversing a decision he made a month ago when he opted to stay at Blackwell Meadows.

Shortly after Gray was appointed as York boss Bartlett turned down the opportunity to follow him to Bootham Crescent, since when Minstermen brought in Bailey Peacock-Farrell on loan from Leeds United.

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The Darlington-born 21-year-old has played four matches, but former Hartlepool United ’keeper Bartlett will replace him between the sticks, despite saying early in October that returning to full-time football was not his ambition.

“I played full-time for the past ten years and I made decision on coaching and playing about seven or eight months ago when I came to Darlington,” he said on October 7.

“I’m back at Newcastle coaching on a part-time basis, and it’s been great at Darlington from the off, so I wasn’t close to moving by any stretch of the imagination, but there was contact.

“The club turned down a couple of bids down anyway, and I’m more than happy that the club want me here.”

On York’s website yesterday, Bartlett said: “When the opportunity arose to work with Martin Gray again, I jumped at it. I think he’s going to bring success to York City and the fact that he wants me to be a part of it is great.

“I am looking forward to the challenge ahead. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck and some good performances along the way, we will be where we want to be at the end of the season.”

Bartlett moved to Darlington from Pools in March when he took on a coaching role in the youth section at Middlesbrough, an arrangement that led to him missing Quakers’ game at North Ferriby in August when he was required to travel to a fixture in Europe.

Bartlett played 26 games for Darlington, keeping seven clean sheets, and recovered from a rocky start, when he was at fault for at least one of the goals at Gainsborough in a 3-3 draw, to become arguably the team’s most consistent performer this season.

Quakers have received a fee for his services, while Harrogate agreed to pay the release clause in Beck’s contract to take the injured striker to West Yorkshire.

Harrogate, now operating as a full-time club, offered the player a two and a half year contract and a higher salary than York, who had not given up on signing a player Gray attempted to sign a month ago when recruiting David Ferguson from Darlington.

However, Beck chose Harrogate, but he will not make his debut for a few weeks as he has not recovered from a posterior cruciate ligament problem.

Quakers boss Wright had last week said he was looking forward to working with the striker when he returned to fitness having missed six of the last seven games.

However, speaking yesterday, Wright said: “Things happened quickly over the weekend. Mark has a release clause in his contract that Harrogate activated.”

Beck scored 18 goals last season, including Quakers’ last strike at Heritage Park and their first at Blackwell Meadows, and was named as the club’s player of the year.

He also netted in Darlington’s 4-1 win at Harrogate, and Town boss Simon Weaver said: “We are all delighted to sign Mark. We know that from playing against him and watching him play several times that he is a big threat in front of goal.

“His physical presence will complement the current players within our set-up, and at twenty-three years of age his best years are ahead of him.”

The exits of Bartlett, Beck and Ferguson takes the number of players to have left Darlington in recent weeks to four, with Paulo Mendes having been taken off the wage bill too.

All of which leaves Wright and assistant Alan White looking to plug gaps in a squad that is in poor form.

Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Brackley was Darlington’s fourth loss in six games and left them six points above the relegation zone ahead of this weekend’s visit to Kidderminster Harriers.