DARLINGTON have a strong Blyth Spartans influence in their squad and replicating the Northumberland club’s form at the end of last season would be a huge boost to play-off hopes.

Under Alun Armstrong’s guidance, Blyth charged into play-off contention by winning eight of their final ten league matches, resulting in a sixth-place finish.

It was a remarkable run of form including a sequence of six successive wins, one of which was away to champions Stockport County.

Darlington’s toughest game of their run-in, in theory at least, will be Tuesday’s trip to Boston United, who occupy the highest position of the final ten teams Quakers face.

Today’s opposition at Blackwell Meadows, Farsley Celtic, are 11th and with waning play-off ambitions having lost three of their last four games.

“It’s very tight and it’s going to take a good run to get in there,” said Armstrong.

“Every game is big now. I’ve looked at things, and at Blyth this time last year we were worse off points wise.

“I think we took 26 points out of our last ten games up at Blyth. That was phenomenal, a ridiculous record. We drew two and won eight.

“A lot of the teams around us have got to play each other, so they’ll take points off each other, and that’s when you’ve got to try and catch up when they’re playing each other.”

Among Quakers’ ten remaining opponents are Leamington (currently 17th), Curzon Ashton (20th), Kettering (19th) and Bradford (22nd), but the manager dismisses the suggestion such fixtures lend themselves to relatively simple wins.

He said: “People might say we’ve got a decent run-in with teams like Kettering, Bradford, Leamington, Curzon, but they are the worst ones to play against because they’re fighting for their lives to get out of the bottom.

“People might say those are bankers, but they’re not, those are the toughest ones.

“It’s going to be a very interesting run-in.

“We’ve achieved what we said we wanted to do, and that’s to have a cup run to get people excited, and start sniffing around the play-offs. If we can overachieve then great.

“Hopefully we’ve got people dreaming again of us challenging.”

Darlington faced Farsley on the first day of the season, losing 3-1 with ex-Quaker Nathan Cartman among the scorers, and it is a game remembered for a poor playing surface.

They had no such issues on a substandard surface seven days ago at AFC Telford, winning 2-1.

“You could actually play on half of the Telford pitch, maybe three-quarters,” said Armstrong. “Where the sand was it was horrific, you just had to shift the ball from there, but on the other side of the pitch it was heavy but the ball was rolling alright.

“Farsley was horrific. The grass was far too long, the ball wouldn’t roll so it was in the air the whole game. Telford was bad, but at least some of it was playable.”

Not that Quakers can boast of a playing on a plush surface at Blackwell, and Armstrong admitted: “The grass has disappeared, it doesn’t seem to be getting looked after in my opinion. It gets cut and that’s about it. It’s maintained as a rugby pitch, not a football pitch.”