Step aside Paul McKenna and Derren Brown because there's a new mind games expert in town: David Hodgson, master of mind control and subliminal persuasion.

Often credited with being a great motivator of players, on Saturday Hodgson used his apparent new-found control of human behaviour skills to fire-up Quakers.

He drummed into his team that Shrewsbury's manager thought Darlington played like headless chickens when the teams met last month.

The result: Quakers stroll to a comfortable 3-0 win that could have been more.

Gary Peters denies ever making the comment, but whether he did or not, Hodgson convinced his pumped-up players the Shrewsbury boss had too much to say for himself in his post-match comments following the 4-0 defeat at Gay Meadow, and it certainly did the trick.

Goals from Neil Wainwright and the returning Craig Hignett - in for the injured Clyde Wijnhard - secured a deserved victory that went someway to avenging the poor result in December.

"We put right the result we had down there and in part it was thanks to something that was reported to have been said by Gary Peters after that game," said Hodgson.

"I wanted the players to go out and prove they could play better than the performance at Shrewsbury and they did that."

On the wall in Darlington's dressing room is one of them so-called motivational pictures depicting a man facing a mountain with the words: "Nothing is impossible".

It's of the variety white collar middle-management types up and down the country buy from Athena to decorate bland office space and are meant to inspire workforces to achieve greater goals, apparently.

Some might say they are a complete load of Ton Kaak, but obviously not Hodgson who on Saturday created his own piece of motivational artwork.

In reference to the defeat at Shrewsbury, he scrawled 'headless chickens, 4-0?' on a board in the players' changing room as the Quakers boss felt a little extra stimulus was required.

He said: "'Headless chickens, 4-0' was written on the tactics board and so was a question mark, because I wanted to ask the players, did we deserve to get beat 4-0 and were we headless chickens?

"The answer to both is no, so I wanted them to prove they were better than Shrewsbury and they did it.

"I would have liked to win 4-0 because then we would have been level with them, but I'm not complaining."

But aside from all the amateur psychology and the motivational techniques, there was never much doubting a home victory because Darlington were clearly better than Shrewsbury.

Their scouting report from Quakers' previous home game - 1-1 with Oxford United - must have read "just copy Oxford and defend for your lives".

But unlike the Oxford game, Darlington were able to get behind the visitors' defence and create scoring chances, despite Shrewsbury starting with a 4-5-1 formation.

They stayed that way for almost an hour, even after Darlington had gone ahead through Wainwright's first half tap-in, his second goal of the season.

It came from a well-worked move, involving five players with Wainwright's finish coming courtesy of Adrian Webster's cross from the by-line which was preceded by Hignett's incisive through-ball.

Such was Darlington's early superiority Quakers had looked good for a goal from kick-off and by the time it came, after 28 minutes, it was via their eighth shot - the first had been after only 52 seconds when Webster forced Shrews' keeper, Scott Howie, into action.

Shortly afterwards Alun Armstrong saw a close-range header blocked by defender Trevor Challis, and Darlington's dominance continued throughout the first half, although Shrewsbury did have a handful of their own shots at goal.

Sam Russell's flying save to his right to tip away Jake Sedgemore's volley after 11 minutes was the goalkeeper's highlight of the day, but with the defence looking solid, Darlington always looked comfortable.

Although Hodgson said he was a little nervous of Shrewsbury grabbing an equaliser at 1-0. "We needed to be 2-0 up at half-time so that we could build on it in the second half, but it was only 1-0 so I was a bit edgy still," he said.

"There's always a doubt that we are going to pummel a team and then we'll concede a goal. So we needed the second goal badly and as soon as that went in you couldn't see Shrewsbury scoring three."

The second goal was similar to Darlington's at Northampton last week when Wijnhard robbed a defender, who was trying to shepherd the ball over the byline, before passing to goalscorer Adolfo Gregorio.

On Saturday, after 68 minutes, it was Armstrong who tackled former Darlington defender Stuart Whitehead before passing to Hignett to score from eight yards.

Shrewsbury switched formations and made a go of it but Darlington stood firm with Matt Clarke's perfectly executed sliding challenge in his own penalty area, depriving Ryan Lowe of a shooting chance, typifying the solid defending.

Although Russell had to be alert to stop Shrewsbury's best chance of the day when Duane Darby side-footed towards goal at close-range, Quakers were already three up and safe.

Hignett sealed victory by tapping home at the third attempt after sub Mark Convery and Wainwright's efforts were saved.

It was at this stage of the last play-off season, 1999/2000, that Darlington went on a six-game winning run having just beaten Peterborough at Feethams, and a similarly productive spell would do their promotion hopes the world of good.

They are already unbeaten in five, but another test of Hodgson's men comes this Saturday when they travel to fourth-placed Southend, the team Darlington comprehensively beat 4-0 earlier this season.

Perhaps it will be the Shrimpers boss's turn to try his hand at the mind games?

Result: Darlington 3 Shrewsbury Town 0.

Read more about the Quakers here.