DARLINGTON had to show some of the battling qualities that were too often absent last season in order to achieve Wednesday’s win, grinding out a 1-0 victory when under pressure for large parts of the second half against Kidderminster Harriers.

Darlington won only 11 of the 21 matches in which they scored the first goal in 2018-19, perhaps the best example of the team’s vulnerability coming against Saturday's opponents Hereford.

Quakers blew a two-goal lead in March at Edgar Street, Tommy Wright’s team going 2-0 up before managing to lose 4-2.

Eight months on and Quakers have won six matches in a row – three in the league, three in the FA Cup - and they aim to make it seven against Hereford.

Ironically, when the teams met at Blackwell Meadows a year ago, Quakers snatched a point after being 2-0 down with goals by Dave Syers and Jordan Nicholson, who is now at Hereford alongside fellow ex-Quaker Reece Styche.

Nonetheless, Wright’s successor Alun Armstrong believes there is more mettle about the current Darlington players with whom he was delighted after Wednesday’s performance.

“When you’re on a run the opposition want to be the one that beats you, they want to be the ones that stop you,” said the manager.

“We’ve got ex-Darlington players coming back and that adds a little bit of spice, but I think they’ll see a totally different Darlington team to the one they were playing in previously.

“There’s no way that these lads will be a push over.”

Armstrong’s cites Michael Liddle’s attitude as being typical of the team’s mental strength, the left-back having played on Wednesday despite feeling under the weather.

It is five weeks since he completed 90 minutes away to Alfreton despite suffering a broken nose, physio Danny O’Connor resetting it during the game.

In contrast, Kidderminster’s Rhys Williams was immediately substituted after suffering a broken nose in a collision with Tyrone O’Neill.

“Full of flu and absolutely dying but I asked him to play and that’s what you get from him,” said Armstrong of Liddle, one of the players he brought him with from Blyth Spartans.

“He typifies what we are about, him and Will Hatfield.

“Their kid came off with a broken nose, Lidds played on with a broken nose a few weeks ago, that’s the difference in mentality in the youth I think. You stay on, you battle though.”

Goalkeeper Liam Connell had incorrectly believed his final match was Wednesday, but will play the final match of his loan from South Shields.

Quakers have been in discussions with his parent club regarding turning the 34-year-old’s stay into a permanent move and are optimistic they can come to an agreement.

Third-choice at Shields, Connell is desperate to join Darlington and play in next week’s FA Cup first-round tie at Walsall, when Quakers are expecting to take around 800 supporters.

As well as making a fantastic save in the dying moments on Wednesday, Connell cleanly caught a series of crosses in achieving a third clean sheet in his fourth appearance – Quakers had managed two in 13 before his arrival.

In front of Connell is now a settled defence, one in which Alex Storey has been an unsung hero, Darlington winning all five matches since he joined on a dual-registration basis from Sunderland RCA, though he has put a spanner in the works in the best possible way.

The centre-back signed as cover with Louis Laing injured and Josh Heaton having left due to not starting regularly, but he has exceeded expectations and now Laing cannot get his place back.

Armstrong said: “That kid has come in and taken to it like a duck to water – he’s keeping Louis Laing out of the side and I never thought that was going to happen.

“I’m not one for changing things if they’re not broken.

“Once we sorted out the right-hand side on Wednesday with Alex and Ben Hedley, there had been a few distance and positional problems, that was probably Alex’s best game so far.

“He was stepping in and he never lost the ball, so he has shown he can play.”

Having moved up five places to 11th on Wednesday, the five clubs immediately above Darlington in the table are all within two points, one of which is Hereford who have not won any of their last four matches.