HAVING put an end to their FA Cup hoodoo, Darlington are aiming to do the same when they turn their attentions to the FA Trophy tomorrow.

Quakers are at home to Gainsborough Trinity in the third qualifying round, a low-key fixture in comparison to Wednesday’s televised replay with Walsall in the FA Cup at a packed Blackwell Meadows.

Though frustrated not to have overcome the League Two side, reaching the first round represented a fine achievement for a club that had been starved of FA Cup excitement.

They played five games in the competition and won three of them, while it was their first time in the first round proper in eight seasons as a fan-owned club - they had fallen at the first hurdle in each of the last four years.

It has been a similarly miserable story in the Trophy. While Quakers won it in 2011, since becoming fan-owned progress in the competition has been limited, with their last victory coming in 2015 against Mossley at Heritage Park.

After Wednesday’s narrow defeat, manager Alun Armstrong said: “The lads were a little bit flat afterwards but they put in unbelievable effort and made Darlington proud, but it still hurts to lose.

“I’ve told the lads that if they can perform like that in the five games we’ve had in the FA Cup it would be enough to get us to the semi-finals of the Trophy.

“I’m not saying we’re going to win it because there’s National League clubs in it, but if I can find that elusive striker we could give some teams a good run for their money.”

Seven days ago Darlington were battered 5-1 at Brackley, conceding five times before half-time, and Armstrong added: “This is it now, this is our level. I’ve told the lads a Brackley performance doesn’t happen ever again, you’ve set your standard in these matches against Walsall, if we don’t perform like that again then there’s something wrong because there’s no reason why they can’t do it every week.

“I don’t want to see our levels drop, I don’t want to see the intensity drop.

“They’ve given me two fantastic games against Walsall, they had an off day against Brackley, which I knew they were going to do, you could feel it.

“They had an excuse because the replay was coming up, but there’s no excuses now – I want that intensity and energy in every game.

“I want the same desire in the way the lads are defending and I want a bit of quality to make sure the lads start winning games.”

Armstrong last season guided Blyth Spartans to wins over Marske, Lancaster and Boreham Wood to set up a trip to Leyton Orient in the third round.

There is £3,750 on offer for tomorrow’s winners, significantly less than was available on Wednesday when £36,00 was up for grabs.

Nonetheless, Darlington made £36,750 from three FA Cup wins, plus another £33,750 from BT, and Armstrong admitted: “People probably thought we celebrated a bit too much when we drew at Walsall, but we wanted the draw because that brings in the TV game.

“It has shown that Darlington are alive and kicking and want to progress back up the leagues.

“If there’s sponsors out there, if there’s people who want to get involved in the club then I’m sure the chief exec would welcome them with open arms.”

Osagi Bascome and Justin Donawa are back in the reckoning after returning from international duty and Jack Lambert, on loan from Scunthorpe United, could make his home debut.

Gainsborough Trinity are second-bottom in the Northern Premier League, one level below Quakers, with the only two wins in their last eight matches both being high-scoring Trophy successes: 4-0 against Dunston and 5-3 at Tamworth.

Quakers and Gainsborough shared some high-scoring fixtures when they met in the National League North in 2016-17 and ’17-18. At home Darlington won 5-2 and 4-3, while at Gainsborough there was a 3-3 draw and a 3-1 defeat.

In the Gainsborough squad is Kingsley James, who was a team-mate of Quakers’ Will Hatfield at Guiseley.