STEVE STAUNTON has his assistant manager to thank for ensuring his touchline tirades haven’t resulted in him being sent to the stands this season.

If any Darlington supporters required evidence of how much the club’s League Two survival means to the manager, a glance to the technical area during Tuesday’s encounter with Northampton showed that the gaffer’s commitment is as full-blooded as any of his players.

Experienced referee Keith Stroud will need to be on top of his game at Cheltenham this afternoon as Quakers look to reduce the gap on the third-from-bottom side.

Staunton has become the Neil Warnock of League Two, delivering a broadside to officials whenever he deems their decision-making has failed to meet his exacting standards.

“You’re not asking for anything, you just want fair and honest decisions,” said Staunton, following this week’s narrow defeat to the Cobblers.

Standing between the gaffer and a stern word from the fourth official was Kevin Richardson, who has grown accustomed to offering a protective buffer between Staunton and the men in black.

The assistant manager will again be keeping a close eye on matters at Whaddon Road today but he insists that Staunton’s tendency to “kick every ball” is a sign of his passion and will-to-win.

Richardson said: “The gaffer cares. If decisions go against us, or we see things that we know are wrong, then he says his bit. I know it is a difficult job and referees miss things, but that is what the fourth official and assistant referees are there for.

“The other night the referee could have been better and the linesman on our side in the first half was poor. Things like that will get managers at any level having a pop. We are trying to behave on the touchline but at the same time we ask them to improve their level of performance.

“The manager sometimes gets angry and then it’s my job to say a few words and calm him. But we are fighting for every little thing and we will keep doing that.”

Staunton made no apology for making his feelings known during Tuesday evening’s closely-fought encounter.

“Yes I got irate because I felt everything was going against us. I wasn’t doing it for show, I felt so aggrieved and disgusted for the players because of the effort they put in,” he explained. “They deserved better.”

On-loan goalkeeper Shane Redmond will get the nod ahead of Nick Liversedge this afternoon after impressing the Darlington management team with his organisational skills and willingness to bark out the orders. If terms can be agreed a long-term loan deal is on the cards for the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international.

“I thought Shane was excellent,”

confirmed Staunton.

“When I was Ireland manager he played for the youth teams. He broke his wrist when he was at Burton Albion at the start of the season but he’s been back in training for three or four weeks.

“I was in the market looking for a keeper, one deal broke down and I was speaking to (Nottingham Forest assistant manager) David Kelly and he happened to mention Shane.

He’s played for a couple of clubs on loan and he’s confident, and that gives the backfour confidence.”

Staunton also hailed the impact made by Gareth Waite, who has adapted quickly to league football since his move from Spennymoor Town this month. The manager added: “Gareth has played very well in his three games. In his first couple of games I felt we needed to break him in gently at what is a higher level of football for him. So he was played on the right to begin with so he could pick up the pace of the game, but he has taken to it like a duck to water.

I felt on Tuesday I would put him into the middle because of his size and his power. He loves a tackle and he can get box-to-box. He will improve technically.

“On Tuesday he showed quicker feet so he’s obviously getting used to this level.”

■ Darlington youngsters have a chance to spend halfterm time on a week-long football course next month.

The Quakers are holding the courses during the February half-term break (Monday 15-Friday 19) at Eastbourne Sports Complex in the town, when children can spend a whole day with the club for less than £10 a day each.

Boys and girls aged between five and 12 will be with the club’s Football in the Community staff from 9am to 3.30pm, for just £40 each for the whole week.

There’s an additional discount of £2.50 each per second and third child. To book, call 01325 387019, 07790 015410, or email