THREE days after recording an eye-catching FA Trophy upset Darlington must do it all over again if they are to reach round three.

On Wednesday they overcame Solihull Moors in a replay, a notable feat given that the opposition were a full-time team currently positioned in the National League play-off positions, and so too are Harrogate Town.

The ambitious North Yorkshire club are third in the table, seven points ahead of Solihull, and travel to Blackwell Meadows as favourites for the round two tie.

“It’s a free hit for us because Harrogate are flying and they’re a really good side,” admitted Darlington manager Alun Armstrong.

“They are going for promotion to the Football League, so we’ll give it a good go, we’ll give it our all and see what happens.

“I’ve seen highlights of them and they are a good side, there is no getting away from it.”

Harrogate have won six of their last seven games, 50 per cent of those victories being against Hartlepool United with one of them in the last round of the Trophy to prevent a Darlington v Pools derby.

They are no strangers to Quakers. The teams had a pre-season friendly in July, Town winning 2-1, while they have three former Darlington players in their squad.

Will Smith, a defender who was on loan to Darlington from Barnsley last season, midfielder Josh Falkingham and forward Mark Beck.

They also have experienced ex-Sunderland striker Jon Stead, and Armstrong added: “We played them in pre-season and they have some good players – Stead and Beck are a different class – so we know what to expect from them. They’ve got Josh Falkingham in there, they’re organised at the back, and they want to go for it in the Trophy. They can see themselves winning it so they are going for it, but it’s anyone’s now.

“I would love nothing more than to win the game on Saturday. We’re not expected to, but the team and the squad is getting stronger.”

Armstrong is pleased with his team’s progress, the season kick-starting on December 7 with a 2-0 home win over Chester.

Darlington have kept four clean sheets in eight matches, winning six of them, and Armstrong said: “We’re defending properly, we’re not taking chances, we’re backing each other up constantly, there’s a lot of organisation there, a lot of talking.

“The defending was top drawer on Wednesday. There was a shot Chris Elliott saved, but other than that I cannot remember any clear chances they had.

“I contemplated making a change in the first half, but it was a case of staying in the game and what I like about us now is that we are more resolute.

“The team is getting tougher and harder to beat.”

While Darlington won with a second-half goal by Omar Holness and came close to adding to their tally against a one-dimensional Solihull side which has the best defensive record in their division, the first 45 minutes saw Quakers under the cosh.

“Solihull have the best defence I’m led to believe, and you can see why, but not many teams in the National League play the way we do,” said Armstrong.

“That’s not being disrespectful, that’s truthful. I’ve seen it and I’ve seen League Two as well, they’re very similar.

“Each to their own, but you can see the way I want to play and it would be no good asking our players to play like Solihull, it would be pointless. We actually were for the first 25 minutes, going back to front quickly, all we needed was two clean passes and we were out of defence.

“The message was be brave, trust each other and play a pass to feet rather than looking for the Hollywood ball, get on the ball.”

Joe Wheatley failed a fitness test on Wednesday due to a muscle problem and will be given another opportunity prove his availability.

Darlington-born striker Gary Martin has arrived on loan from Icelandic club IBV and has received international clearance so is available. 

Quakers have requested permission from South Shields to name Liam Connell in their squad. He was ineligible on Wednesday as he was not available for the first game between the sides before Christmas, and he will not be selected if Shields say no.

Darlington and Harrogate, whose manager Simon Weaver was at Blackwell on Wednesday, have agreed to not have a replay in the event of a draw after 90 minutes, so there could be extra-time and penalties.

Darlington also played at home to Harrogate in the FA Trophy in November 2017, Reece Styche scoring twice on his debut in a Friday evening game which Quakers lost 3-2.

Winger Joe Leesley scored twice too, but the Harrogate winger has this week joined Stevenage on loan for the rest of the season.