DARLINGTON will take encouragement from their previous successes this season as they enter a challenging week.

They play three games in eight days, away to both Guiseley (tenth) and Chester (third), and they start at home to Alfreton on Saturday.

While the Derbyshire club are 13th, two places behind Quakers and in poor form, their style of play means manager Alun Armstrong is expecting a tough assignment at Blackwell Meadows.

He compares them to Solihull Moors, the National League side Darlington defeated in the FA Trophy ten days ago, while Quakers also overcame Alfreton in September.

It finished 2-1, Tyrone O’Neill and Justin Donawa scoring, and four months on Armstrong reflected: “It was a massive win. We conceded a goal after about three minutes and we weren’t great in the first half, we went against everything we had talked about before the game.

“They’re a very similar to the team we’ve just played, they’re direct and the ball gets put in the box straight away, but second half we dominated and we couldn’t score until we got two late goals in two minutes.

“We thoroughly deserved the win and I think the that was the start for us. The second half was the best we’d played for a long time and the lads took belief from it.”

After losing 2-0 last week to Harrogate Town in the Trophy, Darlington are bidding to continue their fine league form.

Five wins out of their six in the National league North puts them third in the form guide, but Alfreton had not won in eight matches in all competitions until they beat third-bottom Curzon Ashton 2-0 a fortnight ago.

Armstrong added: “They’re up and down, but I know what Billy Heath’s teams are like. He has them really fired up, they’re aggressive and physical and similar to Solihull.

“It’ll be a physical battle again, we just have to make sure we play our football. It’s difficult on the pitch, it doesn’t help. It looks fine from the side, but it cuts up, it’s bobbly and the last few games it’s been difficult to dribble with the ball. It’s the same for both teams, so we have to get on with it.

“We have lads who like to dribble and link the play, whereas Alfreton are more direct and they’ll have runners off the front man.

“But we’ve got a volunteer in which is fantastic. We’ve got Rodney Dale on there, he’s a landscaper and has his own business, and is working on it for us which is great. He brings his own equipment and that’s what you get at this club, fans who are willing to help us out.”

Armstrong made one change to his starting XI last weekend, Gary Martin for Jarrett Rivers, but is sure to make more against Alfreton with both Sean Reid and Joe Wheatley now available, while Michael Liddle has a hamstring strain and will be replaced by Jordan Watson.

Reid was cup-tied having played in the Trophy this season for Morpeth, while Wheatley has missed three matches with a groin issue.

Armstrong said: “Joe will be back for Saturday. He had a tweak in his groin area, but it’s been nice to rest the lad. If we didn’t have the options I would’ve had to ask him to play through it.

“To totally rest him and not even have him on the bench has done him the world of good and has recharged his batteries for Saturday.”

In Wheatley's absence Omar Holness recalled for two games in the Trophy, while Jack Lambert was also involved, though his loan expires after today and Armstrong has indicated he will return to Scunthorpe.

“He has done smashing for us, but we’ve got a lot in that position at the minute,” said the manager.

“Sean Reid can play as a No. 10, Adam Campbell can play there, Omar did well, we’ve got David Atkinson coming back. There’s quite a few midfielders there and I probably need to move one or two out.

“Osagi Bascome probably needs to go out on loan to give him some game time because he hasn’t played for two months.

“It’s great having the options at the moment but it’s going to be upsetting for some lads who are not going to be in the squad.

“They’ve all got a big part to play – look at what’s happened to Lidds. You got an injury and all of a sudden you’ve got to be ready to take your chance, that’s the message I’ve given to the lads, be ready for your chance and take it when it comes.”