DESCRIBED as “the perfect day” by Tommy Wright, he hopes Saturday marked a fresh start for Darlington.

It certainly felt that way as Quakers drew a line under their eight previous mainly frustrating fixtures by defying pre-match predictions and trouncing previously unbeaten AFC Telford United.

It was 3-0 and could have been more.

They won at home for the first time, keeping a first clean sheet of the season too and did so with an under-strength team.

Not many saw this coming.

Wright would probably say he did as he retains full confidence in his players, and, as the manager, of course he should, but results of late have not been encouraging.

“This has got to be day one now, we’ve got to start marching forward together,” he said, after his team’s second win of the season saw Quakers rise to 16th.

“All the fans wanted was a win today. They got that and they also got a performance and work ethic, a clean sheet and we did it all without our two centre-forwards, so it’s been a perfect day.

“You can talk about the Blyth game all day long, the reality is that we hammered them and everyone knows that, but people want to see wins.

“If we had scraped this 1-0 with a goal off someone’s arse everyone would’ve gone home happy, but we put on a performance, three great goals and I’m delighted for the lads and the fans.

“This has got to be the starting point. We’ve got the monkey off our back by winning at home because it had been too long.”

Darlington had not won at Blackwell Meadows since March when they beat North Ferriby 6-0, and they had chances on Saturday to record a similarly high score.

They started with a high tempo and maintained it, with chances coming and going until taking the lead on 35 minutes.

Luke Trotman exchanged passes with Joe Wheatley and passed to Stephen Thompson, who spotted Jordan Nicholson in the centre of the penalty area from where he buried the ball into the bottom corner.

“Playing on the half-turn and scoring in the bottom corner, that is Nicho, it was a trademark goal for him,” said Wright.

“He’ll be disappointed with the one when he raced through, that was bread and butter.

“But his energy was there today. We didn’t give them a minute’s peace, that was our game plan, to get after them and press them.

“The lads did that, individual performances have been outstanding, they have grafted and got what they deserved.”

For a long spell in the second half Quakers held the upper hand without scoring again, twice hitting the woodwork.

Saunders hit the bar with a header after meeting Ben O’Hanlon’s left-wing cross, and a Dave Syers shot rebounded off the post into the hands of goalkeeper Andy Wycherley.

Wright admitted: “We’d hit the bar, we’d hit the post, we’d missed sitters, so you’re wondering if it’s going to be your day.”

But in the closing stages the scoreline became a more accurate reflection of the contest, first when Saunders made it 2-0 on 78 minutes.

He kept his cool to lob the goalkeeper, a composed finish from the striker who has now scored twice having been given three starts in a row for the first time in his career.

And in the final minute goalkeeper Andy Wycherley conceded a penalty by tripping Nicholson, Thompson stepping up to blast home his 87th goal for the club.

Next up is Southport away on Saturday when Wright will have to give serious consideration to sticking with the same starting XI, which would mean no place for Terry Galbraith, Simon Ainge or Reece Styche.

It would take a brave manager to leave all three on the bench, but none of the weekend’s starting XI deserve to be left out.

Tom Elliott and Wheatley were reunited in the centre of midfield, bringing their energy and drive back to the team, Syers showed that it was wrong to leave him out at the beginning of the season, and integral to the long-awaited clean sheet were centre-backs Jonny Burn and Liam Hughes.

Summer signing Hughes has been disappointing in midfield, but at centre-back was outstanding, winning every challenge, and deserved the prolonged applause that greeted him being announced man of the match.

“He wanted to go centre-half when we put Aingey there,” revealed Wright. “On Monday we had a chat, we worked on it on Tuesday and Thursday and today we put it into practice.

“He will be the first one to admit that he’s not fit enough to play central midfield.

“He’s been honest with me, we’ve had a great chat and the challenge was set to me: give me the centre-half that I’ve been craving.

“He was powerful, he was dominant but he’s more than that. He was spraying balls about, leading, making us tick. It was an outstanding performance and it could not have come at a better time for him.

“He had a lot of criticism a couple of weeks ago and rightly so, he knows that, but he answered a lot of critics today and I’m pleased the fans gave him a standing ovation.”