THERE has been no downplaying the FA Cup fever from Alun Armstrong, who describes tomorrow's match at Tamworth as massive for Darlington and his players.

They are seeking to make it into the draw on Monday for the first round proper when clubs from Leagues One and Two enter the fray, while prizemoney of £18,750 is at stake.

That would double Darlington’s money having already pocketed £18,000 from the competition so far, a bonus for all concerned because the club, wisely given past experiences, this year did not budget for making any progress.

Buoyed by winning four matches in a row, including FA Cup away ties at Trafford and Leamington to reach this stage, Darlington will be backed by a good following at Tamworth.

“People might say you should treat it as a normal game, but how can you with the history behind it for Darlington,” admitted Armstrong. “It’s a massive game for the club and the players.

“That’s how I’ve sold it to the players, it’s their opportunity to get themselves noticed, to get themselves in the first round against a good team and put themselves in the shop window.

“We’ve got to try and grasp this opportunity.”

The game will be played on an artificial surface at The Lamb, which Tamworth installed in the summer of 2016 – in the league they have won three and lost two at home.

“It’s not a bad pitch, I’ve been there before with Blyth,” added Armstrong.

“The game is usually a lot faster and if your passing isn’t precise the ball goes out a lot.”

Armstrong is wary of complacency against opposition from the Southern League Central Division – one level below Darlington - pointing out that Tamworth are also in very good form.

They will fancy their chances given they are second and have lost only one of their last ten matches.

“I’ve watched the highlights of their last few games and it’s not going to be easy,” warned Armstrong. “They’ve got pace about them down the sides, they’ve got a bit of physicality about them so it will be a tough, just as tough as the last two.

“We’ve got to make sure the lads are right at it and all I can do is make sure they’re up for it as much as possible.

“If we repeat the last four weeks we’ll not have a problem, but there’s a thin line between complacency and confidence.

“They haven’t lost many recently and the way they’re going they’ll be promoted into our league, so it’s not as though we’re going to have an easy game – it’s a massive opportunity for them and us.

“We’ve got to make sure we put in the performance I know we’re capable of, not let each other down, continue what we’ve been doing and then the result will take care of itself, but by no means will this be an easy game.

“At the very least we’ve got to bring them back to Blackwell if we cannot get the job done.”

Any replay would be at Blackwell on Wednesday, though clearly Quakers hope to get the job done at the first attempt and they are boosted by the return of Ben Hedley after he served a one-match ban last week, while Armstrong hopes to call on Stephen Thompson who has had a groin problem.

Armstrong explained: “It would be daft not to put Ben back in at right-back. We won last Saturday without him, but it will just give us better balance to put Michael Liddle back on the left.

“Thommo trained on Tuesday with the physio, we hope he has no reaction before Saturday and fingers crossed we can get him involved at some point.”

Louis Laing, now fully fit after a hamstring strain, may have to wait for his recall as Alex Storey, signed from Sunderland RCA as a stand-in due to injuries, has impressed during his three appearances, and Armstrong explained: “Laingy is back and raring to go but he understands the situation.

“I love him in my team because of the way he plays, but Alex has done fantastic and has earned his place.”