Synners lose third player to Quakers

First published in Darlington FC News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Sports Editor

Darlington will have a new face in their squad for today's game at Bedlington Terriers after completing the signing of defender Jordan Robinson.

He has arrived from Billingham Synthonia and goes straight into the squad that travels to Welfare Park.

Like most matches in the Northern League today, however, the game is under threat from the weather.

No announcement has been made regarding a pitch inspection but Quakers have already missed out this week after their midweek home game with Celtic Nation was postponed.

The new signing may have to wait for his first start as Gary Brown and Joe Tait are Darlington's established centre-back pairing, but manager Martin Gray is pleased to add Robinson, 21, to his squad.

"He's a footballing centre-half, he likes to play and he's very comfortable on the ball," said the manager.

"He had a lot of years at Middlesbrough until he was 19. He left and went to Wigan Athletic and I think he played in the first team once or twice as well as the reserves.

"I almost brought him last summer, but he'd had an injury. He's played nearly every game for Billingham this year and we've had him watched numerous times.

"He's played against us twice and we scored plenty of goals in both games, but we rate him highly and I know Spennymoor tried very hard to get him this week."

Tait had a foot injury recently, but Gray added: "Joe's fine now. He was carrying an injury a few weeks ago, but he's okay. We just needed competition and that's what Jordan will do.''

Synthonia are not best pleased about Darlington taking Robinson as he is the third player to make the move this season.

Chris Emms and Gott have also left Central Avenue for Quakers, and assistant manager Lee Tucker, a Darlington player in the early 1990s, said: "To be honest, I will be glad to see the back of Darlington from the Northern League.

"People talk about how good they have been for the league, and their presence gives you one good home gate.

"But that's three players now they have taken from us, a club with a small budget who are trying to build something."

While Quakers are in search of a 12th successive win, ninth-placed Bedlington's form has nose-dived, winning only one of their past ten league games.

In midweek they lost 4-3 to Whitley Bay in the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup, a match that saw Terriers field Jack Norton.

He joined Bedlington after losing his place at Darlington, with October's 3-1 win being one of his last outings before being released.

Gray said: "They're not as strong as they were, but they've still got some players that would get in anybody's team in this league, there's no question about that.

"They've lost players because of the financial position that they are in and have not been in good form. They are still capable, though, of winning games and making life difficult."

Gray's addition of Robinson strengthens a squad with sights set on the title, yet the manager is also looking long-term and has plans for next season's under-18 squad.

The manager is keen on giving youth a chance, something he has demonstrated with David Mitchell, Sam Reed and Andrew White all being involved in the first-team, while Connor Lowes will again be on bench duty today.

Trials are being held for Year 11 pupils over the Easter school holiday period and Gray said: "We've had a lot of players involved in the first-team, that's very important to me, to see young lads coming through.

"Obviously I'm looking for players who display an ability to play a high level of football, perhaps already having played at county level or similar.

"As well as a strong skill set, I need to know that prospective players will show a strong work ethic and be able to work as part of a team, as well as excelling as an individual."

* Trials take place at Greenfield Community College, Newton Aycliffe on April 2 and 4, 10am-2pm.

Players will be tested by the Darlington first-team coaching staff in the morning before taking part in a series of practice matches later in the day. Goalkeepers are also welcome.

Players are asked to register in advance by contacting the Martin Gray Football Academy on 07921 334577 or by email at mgfa@hotmail.co.uk.

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