David Stockdale didn't need much time to make the step up to the Darlington first team, but now he's there the youthful keeper is aiming to hold on to the No. 1 spot.

He started the first game of the season on the bench as understudy to Andy Oakes who was brought in as one of manager Dave Penney's 12 summer signings.

But just over an hour into the game against Wrexham and Stockdale was unexpectedly putting his gloves on after Oakes, 30, was sent off.

Last week in the Carling Cup at Barnsley Stockdale, 21, deputised for the suspended Oakes and did well enough to keep his place for Saturdays' trip to Accrington Stanley, even though the elder keeper had served his suspension.

Stockdale is now Penney's preferred choice, and he intends to maintain the current order of merit.

He said: "I signed a contract in the summer knowing I was not going to be the No. 1, I was supposed to go out on loan but it didn't happen so I was determined to fight for my place.

"Luckily for me and unluckily for Andy I got my chance and hopefully I can keep my place.

"Against Wrexham I just wanted to get on and show any people that last season may have doubted what I can do how much I have improved.

"I feel as though I have done that so far and now I want to be a part of a promotion bid."

Stockdale was recruited from York City by then manager David Hodgson last summer but played just eight games last season and failed to keep a clean sheet.

However, his three impressive performances so far contrast with those of Oakes who had not been so reliable during pre-season.

But given that Penney has already displayed a ruthless streak with Oakes, Stockdale is aware his place is constantly under threat.

He said: "I've got my chance and if I'm not up to the standard that the gaffer wants then out I'll go. Different managers have different approaches to goalkeepers.

"I'm still young but I feel I've come on 70 per cent since last year. I'm fitter and the goalkeeping coach Andy Collett has worked with me so I feel I've improved a lot.

"Andy might be aggrieved that I'm in the team but he's not bitter towards me in anyway shape or form."

Oakes will play for the reserves tonight when Quakers play at home to Sheffield Wednesday in their first match of the season.

Kicking-off at 7pm, the game will be played at Norton and Stockton Ancients where Darlington will stage all their home reserve games this season.