DARLINGTON have won four of their past five games – repeat the feat over the next few weeks and it would put a whole new complexion on their end to the season.

They have hauled themselves away from danger with some notable successes, instilling a sense of belief previously lacking in a squad that had endured a poor run of results – winning only one of Tommy Wright’s first 12 games at the helm.

Beating Blyth (4th), Bradford PA (9th) and Kidderminster (6th), as well as lowly Leamington, has imbued confidence, propelling Quakers to 14th and creating a momentum they would love to have taken to out-of-form Tamworth last weekend.

The postponed fixture will instead be played this Tuesday, with today’s visit of Curzon Ashton to Blackwell Meadows representing the first of five fixtures in a row against teams in the bottom half of the table.

Wright, with an almost fully fit squad available, said: “The lads have come through a tough run of games smelling of roses, and now we’ve got five back-to-back games where the opposition is around us – it’s up to us now.

“We’ve done it against the better teams in this league, so what I’m saying to the boys is are we going to stay in this pack, or are we going to kick on? It’s all to play for and at the end of this five-game period I’d like to be in a favourable position where we can start looking at our next objective.

“Are we just going to see the season out, or are we going to have an outside chance of performing a miracle? A lot can change in five games, as we have just seen.”

After Curzon (17th) and Tamworth (19th) there are dates with North Ferriby (22nd), Telford (20th) and Southport (12th).

While such fixtures may be appealing on paper, Darlington fans know not to take anything for granted from the opposition’s league position – this season Quakers have lost three games to teams in the current bottom four.

The Beast from the East postponed last week’s visit to Tamworth, who have wretched home form, and Wright reflected: “It was frustrating because when you’re on a good run of form you want to continue it while you have the momentum.

“Tamworth were on a bad run, so it was a game I was looking forward to.

“Although I was disappointed not to play, on reflection going into a game without any training in the week before could’ve been a risk.

“James Caton and Ben O’Hanlon have now trained, Dom Collins and Tom Portas are both doing work with the physio, and Gary Brown is available for selection, so we’re in a stronger place than we were last weekend.”

Whether Darlington are stronger than they were when they last faced Curzon in September, a 1-0 defeat followed 24 hours later by Martin Gray’s exit, is open to debate.

They were 12th at the time, but in the middle of a slump, and of the starting XI five are no longer with Quakers – Adam Bartlett, Liam Marrs, David Ferguson, Mark Beck and Adam Dawson, who was on loan from Tranmere.

Among the replacements has been Josh Heaton, who signed a new contract this week. In 13 appearances the 21-year-old has established himself at the heart of defence and is now tipped for big things by Wright.

“It’s now a fixed two-year contract, even though it already was technically as we had an option after his first year, and it’s to give him the wage improvement that he deserves,” said Wright, who signed Heaton from Ramsbottom in November.

“It’s putting money where our mouth is, saying to him that he’s a big part of what we want to do.

“When you’re a player you like a bit of security and you like to feel that you’re being rewarded for playing well.”

Heaton will be on trial at the V9 Academy in the summer, an initiative for non-league players hoping to earn a move into full-time football.

“We’re letting him do it because it’s a showcase for non-league talent – without players like Josh there wouldn’t be a true reflection of the talent in non-league,” added Wright, who says there is no minimum fee release clause in Heaton’s contract.

“I expect Josh to get a lot of attention off the back of it, just like he’s getting at the minute.

“I can’t see Josh being here in five years’ time, put it that way.

“If he’s with us in five years it’d be because he’s not progressed the way he should have done. I would see that as a negative.

“We have unearthed a gem, I want to make the most of him while he’s here and when he does move on it will be at the right time for all concerned.

“I love working with him, he’s got a lot more development to do with myself and Whitey, but I want to keep him – you don’t achieve things by selling your best players all the time.

“Every player has a valuation and if a big offer came in we would have to look at it because we are what we are. Signing a player for free and selling him on, that would be good business for me.

“Josh has got to aim high and that means a top end Football League club, a Championship club, because he’s that good.”