DARLINGTON supporters could be forgiven if they are unsure what to think of their club’s current situation.

Are they showing signs of a revival on the field while making prudent decisions off it, or are they so challenged financially to the extent they have had to cash in on leading scorer Reece Styche?

The truth, usually, is somewhere in between and that’s perhaps where the fans would be best served looking in this instance.

What is not in question is the table. Quakers have climbed six places recently and are four points outside the play-offs after stringing together some improved results.

Beating Boston United 1-0 made it three wins in five league matches with only one defeat and three clean sheets.

It was achieved despite again not coming close to the exciting standards set earlier in the season and Boston scored an own goal, but Quakers were comfortable.

Remarkably, just as at FC United of Manchester last week, the opposition again had two men sent off, the goal coming when it was 11 versus 11.

Victory meant back-to-back wins for the first time this season and it came a day after appointing a full-time commercial manager in Craig Morley, most recently with Durham County Cricket Club.

This is surely a step in the right direction for a club that has long been crying out for someone to fulfil such a position, to bring in revenue and attract the business community to Blackwell.

While Morley’s arrival may have been among the talking points before the match, supporters were soon digesting news of Styche’s shock exit which emerged an hour before kick-off.

The charismatic striker today completes a move to Alfreton, the Derbyshire club filling the gap created by selling Tom Denton to Chesterfield, and it is a tough one to take for fans and manager Tommy Wright.

They are losing someone who scored 18 goals in 33 games, who played a major role in the club avoiding relegation last season, who helped secure a money-spinning pre-season friendly with a unique goal celebration – plus the £20,000 prize – while he also netted a further five goals this season including a hat-trick at Brackley.

Though an exact figure has not been revealed, the transfer will pocket Quakers a fee higher than the one they paid to Tamworth last November.

There are those who would suggest it smacks of a lack of ambition. Perhaps the same people have already forgotten the financial scrapes Quakers have gotten themselves into in recent years.

In light of their customary early exit from the FA Cup, astute management of finances means tough decisions such as these are necessary if Darlington are to avoid another calamity.

While a shame to see Styche leave, he and Simon Ainge had not struck up an effective partnership up front. Now elevated to first-choice selection, this is Harvey Saunders’ opportunity to make a name for himself.

The 21-year-old set up the only goal on 11 minutes, driving away down the left and sending over a cross that Ainge hit the post with, but Ashley Jackson was unable to stop the rebound hitting him and going into the net.

And on 19 minutes Boston were given their first red card, Ben Middleton seeing red for a very late challenge on Jordan Nicholson.

“He was lucky prior to not already have been booked, and had he been he probably wouldn’t have made the second one,” said Wright. “He was reckless, he had been warned twice already and then does that.”

Boston switched to 3-4-2 and the set-piece delivery of Ben Davies was their most potent weapon with tall strikers Gregg Smith and Gavin Allott the targets.

Quakers coped, however, and in open play they were solid enough. They had again changed formation, starting with a 3-5-2 despite Ben O’Hanlon being unavailable due to a hamstring strain.

Wright explained: “We were 3-5-2 to try and hit them in the wide areas and with Jordan Nicholson in the middle it was always going to cause their back four a problem.

“Jordan was lively, it was the best Stephen Thompson has played for a while and the two centre forwards are striking up a relationship, so I was happy with them.

“Having a solid base of three at the behind them with two holding midfielders, I didn’t feel threatened and I felt we could hurt them in the right areas.”

There were few real chances for either side, neither team on top , and midway through the second half Quakers changed formation to close out the contest.

Wright explained: “When we went 4-4-2 we didn’t look as fluid, but we did look more solid and I was played with the game management when the lads were running the clock down and killed any flow Boston had.”

Five minutes from time Boston goalkeeper George Willis charged out of his area and clattered into Saunders, a red card the inevitable consequence.

“The goalie knew what he was doing, there was no way he was going to let Harvey go past him,” said Wright.

He added: “We’ve won two games on the spin and find ourselves four points off the play-offs.

“Hopefully we can get more points on the board and next time we play at Blackwell we’ll get an even bigger gate, that’s got to be the aim.”