HAVING reached the high point of their season so far, the question now is how far can Darlington go?

This was meant to be a transition season, one of progression, a year in which to build some foundations.

It has undoubtedly been all of this, Alun Armstrong and assistant Darren Holloway creating a feelgood factor, fans having endured a couple of mediocre years now firmly believe better times lie ahead.

Quakers’ 3-0 win at the weekend against Alfreton Town was their joint-biggest of the season, their sixth victory in seven league matches and takes them to seventh and the play-off positions.

For the first time this season when his team’s good form and play-off talk was mentioned post-match, Alun Armstrong did not mention his rebuild remit.

Instead, referring to the pack of clubs jostling for position in the top half, he said: “It’s extremely tight. Back-to-back wins gets you up in them positions, but back-to-back losses would soon get you out of them!”

Though hardly a declaration of war on the top seven, it was notable he did not downplay Darlington’s position, though he did warn about the immediate challenges ahead.

He was referring to Guiseley on Tuesday and Chester on Saturday, away fixtures against teams above Quakers. Come through those unscathed and all concerned really will be looking up.

In his first year as the club’s manager, maintaining the current level of positivity generated is Armstrong’s aim and continuing to achieve more than his predecessor would do just that.

He has already succeeded in doing better in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy than Martin Gray and Tommy Wright, with the next target being to better the 16th and 12th positions of the last two seasons, something Quakers are on course for – they have more points now (39) than they had at this stage in either 2017-18 and 2018-19 (25 and 30).

Saturday’s three-point haul was rarely in doubt from the moment Adam Campbell opened the scoring on 19 minutes, an individual effort after dribbling deep into enemy territory, skirting past some half-hearted challenges before firing across goal.

Darlington did not maintain their momentum, allowing Alfreton a few glimpses of goal during the remainder of the half, but the visitors were as poor as their recent form suggests and did not unduly trouble Chris Elliott.

Alfreton have won one of their last ten matches, Saturday’s defeat nailed on from the moment Campbell made it 2-0 early in the second half, beating the offside trap by running to a Will Hatfield pass and calmly beating goalkeeper Jordan Wright for his 12th goal of the season.

Hatfield had received the ball after a powerful header from centre-back by Sean Reid, the midfielder dropping back after Terry Galbraith limped off at half-time in his 300th appearance for the club with an ankle injury.

Reid excelled and could find himself in defence on Tuesday at Guiseley, though Armstrong said: “He doesn’t want to be at the back because he loves scoring goals, as everyone does!

“But I knew he would be an asset for us and he has proven his worth again by being able to drop into defence and play like that. You would not have thought he was a midfielder watching him play that second half.”

With the midweek match in mind, Campbell was denied the chance of a hat-trick as Armstrong withdrew him with 20 minutes to go, and substitute Gary Martin came close to getting a first goal for his hometown club after racing away from a defender.

The final say was had in injury time by Justin Donawa, turning home at close-range after getting on the end of a free-kick by Jack Lambert.

It was Donawa’s fifth goal in his last six league starts, his ninth in total. It is a record coupled with the 23-year-old’s speed and aerial ability which means he is sure to be noticed.

Lambert is now likely to return to Scunthorpe United following the conclusion of his two-month loan, and he said: “If that’s the last ball I kick for Darlington it wasn’t a bad one! Loved every minute and what a set of lads. Whatever happens now happens. So good to see us up that table where we belong.”

Armstrong wants to bring in a left-back on loan with Michael Liddle (hamstring), Alex Storey (groin) and Galbraith all sidelined.

He said: “Everything is going rosy at the minute, the only disappointing thing is the niggles and the injuries. Three left-sided defenders, Alex, Tez and Lidds.

“I’ve got to knock on some doors. I don’t like spending money but if needs be I’d like to. It’s not an expensive one, it’s not as if it’s a lot of money, but I might have to loan someone out to create the funds to get someone in."

He added: “I thought we were immense, the lot of them. The lads were a different class, the ugly side of the game was there, the footballing side was there and the pleasing thing was the goals were there too.”