DARLINGTON play in Norfolk for the first of two treks inside eight days in the inappropriately named National League North.

In a division containing Hereford, Brackley and Leamington, next weekend Quakers play away to Gloucester City while on Saturday afternoon they face King’s Lynn Town, who have made a fine start to the season.

They are second behind York City having lost just once, on the opening day of the season, since winning promotion from the Southern Premier Division Central via the play-offs.

The form of the opposition means it is, on paper at least, Darlington’s toughest fixture so far, and one that represents a journey of around 3hrs 20mins, though they have at least prepared as best they can by staying overnight in Norfolk after travelling yesterday.

Not since prior to administration in 2011-12 has a Darlington team travelled the day before the game, but manager Alun Armstrong had his request accepted with two loyal supporters admirably footing the bill.

Gavin Ellis paid coach company H Atkinson and Sons the cost of travel to King’s Lynn, while Alan Robson has covered the cost of the team’s hotel stay.

Manager Alun Armstrong said: “We’re very grateful for their generosity, as it is crucial for the team’s preparation.

“I’d spoken to the club about staying overnight, I suggested it at Blyth last year.

“You know what the fans of this club are like, you know they’re always going to get behind you.

“It’s worked a treat and hopefully we can do the same for Gloucester.

“It’s about giving the lads the best preparation. Travelling on the day, it’s a killer. A couple of hours you don’t mind travelling, but when you’re doing five hours it’s tough to play football after that.”

Three points would make the journey home much sweeter, particularly having taken only one from six over the Bank Holiday weekend in their matches against Altrincham and Bradford (Park Avenue).

Armstrong was disappointed in his team’s display against Bradford, a 1-0 defeat that saw Tyrone O’Neill play as a substitute, a decision that the manager suggested he regrets.

He said: “We’ve got to be better, quicker and cuter with the ball to break teams down, because that’s what teams are going to start doing against us [defending in numbers].

“I had it at Blyth as well, the way we played, teams used to just sit back and be compact and try to catch you on the counter.

“We were playing the ball far too slow, it wasn’t good enough. But to do that you need the options within the lines, which is why we missed Tyrone in there.

“I tried to freshen it up. Was it my fault, should I have started Tyrone? It’s easy saying that now, but you try to use what you’ve got.”

O’Neill had dropped to the bench having played at Altrincham two days earlier despite having been ill, and Armstrong added: “Tyrone should’ve come off on Saturday.

“I wanted him to give me an hour because he’d been ill but we needed him, because of the way Altrincham play, to be that link.

“He was doing it smashing, but then he blew up and we were going to take him off, but then Stephen Thompson got cramp so he had to come off to be ready for Monday.

“So Tyrone was dead on his feet on Saturday after playing 90 minutes having not eaten much or slept for two days.”

Omar Holness could replace Osagi Bascome, with Armstrong admitting: “Osagi wasn’t anywhere near what he normally is, his tempo has dropped a bit and he might need a breather.”

Michael Liddle remains sidelined with a knee ligament problem while and Terry Galbraith has a hamstring strain which means his chances of starting are 50/50.

Seven games played, Darlington have won twice and lost three times and are yet to win on the road.

“It’s been very up and down,” said Armstrong. “Sometimes you’re getting great performances, but Monday was probably the worst we have played.

“I couldn’t fault the lads’ effort, but I expect that every week.

“We created enough opportunities, the stats say it was 20 odd shots, so we should be scoring goals when you have that many chances.”

At the Walks Stadium in games against Kettering, Hereford and Curzon Ashton, King’s Lynn have won all three of their home matches 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1 respectively.

Much-travelled striker Michael Gash has scored five times already. The 32-year-old counts among his former clubs Barnet, Ebbsfleet, Kidderminster, and York City who paid £55,000 for him in 2009, while he scored against Darlington for Cambridge in September 2011.