SEVEN wins are needed to hoist Darlington into a play-off position, that is the view of Alun Armstrong ahead of his team's home match against promotion contenders Brackley Town.

Last season he steered Blyth Spartans into the play-offs, and to repeat the feat with Quakers he has set a target of 21 points from the last 12 games.

Quakers are 11th and on 44 points - Bradford PA took seventh spot in in each of the last two seasons with 63 and 65 respectively.

A swift upturn in results is required, however, as Darlington have not won in four matches, losing two and drawing two having hit a barren patch immediately after a season high, the midweek win at Guiseley to go sixth in the table on January 21.

Armstrong said: “If you look at the bigger picture it’s three losses in 12 league games, so that’s not bad. But I’d rather win one game and lose the other than draw two in a row because you get more points that way.

“We need a win to try and stay in that pack and we need one to get the confidence back up.

“I’ve looked at the games left and we probably need another 21 points. We’ve got to go for 21 from 12 games.”

They meet a tough opposition in Brackley, who have the best defensive record in the division and last year only champions Stockport County conceded fewer goals.

The fifth-placed Saints are a team Quakers have lost four of their last five meetings with, including a 5-1 battering in November, though several Darlington players were ill at the time and the situation led to teenagers Mason Hurworth and Reece Armstrong making an appearance as substitutes.

“Brackley are always a really good and organised side,” said Armstrong. “Everyone knows what they’re like, they’re hard to break down and they’ve been like that for years with the same players.

“We’re going to have to be at our best in terms of movement off the ball. Mind, for the first 20 minutes at their place I didn’t think we were too bad, Thommo hit the post and we couldn’t gone 1-0 up, and all of a sudden we’re 5-0 down at half-time. The last 25 minutes of that half were horrific."

Brackley recently went five matches without a win until beating Chester 3-2 seven days ago. On the same day Darlington drew 2-2 at Hereford an it felt like two points dropped for Armstrong, despite Omar Holness equalising late on.

He said: “Looking back at it, we had the clearer chances to win the game. Cams was one-on-one and I didn’t realise how good a chance that was at the time.

“There were a couple of more opportunities that we had to go 2-0 up at half-time and to see the game through, but they got back into it, and if you look at their first goal it’s a pure fluke because he tried to cross it.

“Our goals were a different class. Hereford might think they could’ve cut out the cross for the first goal, but their kid was sprinting to stop Justin and he wasn’t getting near him.

“The second was one of our best goals of the season, the team-play. People have tried to say he’s offside, but I’ve looked at it and he’s not.”