NEIL Wainwright is aiming to put all his derby experience to good effect on Saturday - and admits the fans' pride is the Darlington players' number one priority.

The winger has played in five of the 143 fixtures that have been contested between Darlington and Hartlepool United and he is well aware what the game means to the Quakers faithful - with the away fans' near 1,000 ticket allocation already sold out.

Of the players who featured against Barnet last Saturday, only Wainwright, Joey Hutchinson and Simon Johnson figured in last season's Carling Cup defeat at Victoria Park, and the former Sunderland man wants to put that reverse firmly to bed.

The 28-year-old believes the win over the Bees last weekend can kick-start their bid to climb the League Two table, and a follow-up victory at Pools would put a four- point gap between them and their arch-rivals.

"We were saying that the run starts now," said Wainwright. "If we could get the win against Barnet then the run starts from there and we can pick up the results one after another.

"The game against Hartlepool is going to be tough and it's a massive game. I'm sure they'll be thinking the same. After the win against Barnet we'll be going there full of confidence.

"There will be a lot of pride at stake against Hartlepool and it's a game we want to win for the fans.

"I've played in more games against Hartlepool than anyone here now and I know how much they mean to the supporters."

But loanee left-back Evan Horwood has been ruled out of Saturday's clash after a scan revealed that he has cracked a fibula, putting him on the sidelines for around seven weeks.

He limped off after a crunching challenge against Barnet so will miss out on facing his hometown club.

Since Quakers were humiliated 5-0 at home to Rochdale, under the temporary stewardship of Martin Gray and Neil Maddison, Darlington have drawn one and won one and Wainwright believes the team is on track to start challenging at the top of the league.

"I think there are games where we should have been picking up the points where we haven't," admitted Wainwright.

"I thought we played really well against Hereford and we were unlucky not to get the three points. When you have games like that you wonder 'what's going on here?'

"We had to stick at it against Barnet and although the game was poor from our point of view, we battled through. It was like a huge weight off our shoulders when we got the second goal."

After sub Simon Johnson had eased the tension against Barnet with Darlington's opener, it was Wainwright's cross that secured victory when Joe Devera turned the ball into his own net.

The goal was the culmination of preparation by Gray, who Wainwright wants to see land the manager's job on a full-time basis.

"Martin made a point that they had a few tall lads at the back and he told us that we had to put a few crosses towards goal.

"I fired it across with a bit of pace and either one of our lads puts it in or one of their's puts it in.

"But Martin has been different class since he came in. The tempo of training has been really good.

"He gets everyone at it during the week and if you're sharp in the week, you're sharp on a Saturday."

* With their allocation having been sold out, Darlington have asked their supporters not to travel to Victoria Park on Saturday unless they have a ticket