A WIN is required if Darlington are to revive flagging play-off aspirations this weekend.

They want to keep their season alive as long as possible, to maintain a competitive element rather than allowing their final fixtures to be played out in midtable mediocrity, which is a position Saturday’s opponents occupy.

Quakers go to 14th-placed AFC Telford, a team with little to play for given that they are 16 points clear of the drop but well adrift of the top seven and with only one win in their last five matches.

However, that is one more than Quakers have managed in five games, Alun Armstrong’s side having dropped to tenth by taking two points from the last 15 available.

In reality, they have been on the periphery of the play-off fight throughout the campaign, spending most of their time between ninth and 15th positions, experiencing only a fleeting glimpse of the top seven when rising to sixth in January before quickly dropping again.

As the team which has scored the fewest goals and conceded the most in the top half off the table, Quakers need to be better at both ends of the pitch, though bringing in a striker remains one of Armstrong’s ambitions.

“We’re not far away and it will click eventually,” said Armstrong, who has brought back Jack Lambert on loan from Scunthorpe United.

“We’re planning for the future as well as this season, and we know we’re not far from being a top-seven side.

“Goals win you games and for all the dominance we had in the first half on Saturday we never capitalised on it. We had loads of lovely football, but we were lacking that bit of magic you need to score a goal. And little things like that cost money.”

Last Saturday Darlington drew 1-1 with Brackley, leading 1-0 for most of the second half before conceding cheaply.

The game saw an eager Omar Holness return to the side for his first league start since early December, and Armstrong said: “You could see Omar wanted to impress. He deserved his start because he has done exceptionally well and his attitude has been spot on.

“That’s what you want from your squad, you don’t want people moaning because they’re not in the team, and that’s what I’ve got here, a great group of lads who all support each other and get behind each other.

“They don’t want someone to have a stinker so they can take his place next week, they want each other to do well and that’s the kind of environment we’ve got here and we’ve got to keep it going.

“I’ve got to pick my players carefully when I strengthen the squad because they’ve got to buy into what we’ve already got because it can upset your dressing room.

“I’d rather have 11 lads fighting for each other on the pitch than one lad who might score goals but it a pain in the backside. I want lads who will work for us constantly.

“I had a great changing room at Blyth too, although a lot of them were there prior to me coming in. But the players I brought in had to match what I had, and that’s the key.

“It sounds daft, but there are a lot of players with egos, and I’ll not bring egos in because it’s a team you want. Not being funny, but there shouldn’t be any egos at this level.”

Last week Telford drew 3-3 at play-off contenders Spennymoor Town, a result few would have bet on at half-time when Moors were 3-1 down and a man down too, but Telford collapsed in the second 45 and conceded an injury-time equaliser.

Darlington lost 3-2 at home to Telford in November, a game Quakers led 2-0 at half-time before Marcus Dinanga scored a second-half hat-trick.

Lambert made his first Darlington league start in that game, one of ten appearances he made during which time he scored two goals in his first spell with the club.

His return for the remainder of the season is not costing Quakers a penny as Scunthorpe will pay all of his wages.

After Lambert's previous Quakers loan ended in January he went on loan to Blyth, who this week sacked Lee Clark as manager.