ALUN Armstrong feels Darlington fans have their club back – and admits his frustration at the season derailing his play-off hopes.

Quakers have finished 11th in National League North after the campaign was curtailed officially last week.

The season was a more enjoyable one than the morose nature of the previous campaign under Tommy Wright.

They finished six points short of the play-off zone, but still had nine games to play. Their last game, on March 14, was a disappointing 4-2 home defeat against Farsley Celtic.

But Armstrong believes his side had enough about them to make up the shortfall to the top seven if the season hadn’t been stopped short.

“I said when I came to the club last May that the season would be one of team building and consolidation in the league and try and get the connection back between the fans and the players / club and I believe those aims have been achieved,’’ he said.

“We brought in several players who improved the team, and in turn have provided some great entertainment.

“I set the team up to attack and score goals, but we didn’t take enough of the numerous chances we created. I would like to think that we have won some very entertaining games this season, and at times the quality of our football has been excellent.’’

He admitted in a statement on the club website: “There have also been times when we have been too inconsistent, sometimes we produced an unexpected below-par performance after a very good one with individual errors getting punished at every opportunity.

“I believe that if I can add some more quality players to the squad, then we can be more consistent in terms of results. I really thought that we could make a late bid for the play offs after the Telford away win, which I thought was one of our best performances of the season. Unfortunately, the lockdown means that we will never know.’’

David Johnson, the club’s chief executive officer, paid tribute to Armstrong in his first season in charge of the club.

And he called on fans to rally round and help provide the funds to give Quakers a real chance of success when next season does eventually get underway – whenever that may be.

“Alun, his staff and the players did an excellent job, and gave us some very proud moments, especially in the FA Cup. No-one will forget Joe Wheatley’s late equaliser at Walsall!’’ he said.

“We are in turbulent times at the moment, but we will endeavour to back Alun financially as much as we can with his team building for the new season, whenever that will be.

“I know these are tough times but please if you can continue to support the Boost the Budget and buy season tickets. Commercial revenue will be tough next year as companies emerge from the lockdown with tighter purse strings than before.

“We therefore need your help to ensure we have a decent playing budget to support Alun. At the end of the day we will manage with whatever we get but recognise next season may be difficult.’’

And Armstrong added: “I think many of you will agree we are not a million miles away from being a top side and I have already started thinking of the squad for next season – whenever that might start – back in January and hopefully with your financial support through the Boost the Budget scheme alongside the other initiatives that the club has in hand, then hopefully I’ll be able to bring in the quality of players that we need to launch a really serious promotion challenge next season.’’