DARLINGTON assistant manager Darren Holloway is looking for more spark and energy from his players in their local derby at home to York City today.

Quakers come into the game on the back of some recent improvement, which unfortunately wasn’t rewarded at Chester in the FA Cup on Tuesday when they were beaten by a lucky late goal. In the league, they have picked up four points from their last two games, with central defender Jake Cooper signed on loan from Rotherham a fortnight ago, part of the reason for that improvement.

“We’re hoping for a good reaction from going out of the FA Cup,” said Holloway.

“The lads applied themselves relatively well, we just missed that spark and a bit more energy.

“We defended a lot better and look a lot more resolute, and we hope that will continue against York. If we add that bit of spark and imagination further up the field to help us put chances away, then we can get in the driving seat in games.”

Quakers defence has improved noticeably in their last three matches with only two goals conceded, the second of which at Chester had a large slice of luck about it, a mishit shot turning into a perfect pass for a goalscoring opportunity.

“We’re hoping now that the defence will be more resolute and iron out the little mistakes. It’s still a work in progress, and we want it to improve.

“We’re more confident now as a back four and as a team than we were at the start of the season.

“People need to time to build partnerships with each other, not just at the back, but all around the field. Jake Cooper has done extremely well since he came to the club and has settled in really well. He’s given Alex Storey a bit of confidence, and Kallum Griffiths and George Smith have both played a lot of football in their careers, so the back four is coming together.”

When the two sides faced each other at Blackwell Meadows on Boxing Day 2018, Quakers won 5-1, with striker Andrew Nelson on target twice.

Nelson, who went on to Dundee and Torquay after that before returning for his second spell, is now slowly recovering from injury, but not quite ready for a regular start.

“We decided to give Nella some minutes from the start at Chester in midweek, and that benefitted him. We need to look at the bigger picture with him before we get him firing on all cylinders.

“Alongside him, Luke Charman has been unbelievable with his workrate and goals, and Jake Cassidy has become the foil we’ve been looking for. He never gives centre halves a minute’s peace – I think Cass will end up scoring more goals this season than he has done previously.”

Quakers will be hoping that summer signing Cassidy will be at his combative best against his previous club, who released him after a season at Bootham Crescent.

Holloway wants the fans to play a part this afternoon as Quakers chase their first home league win of the season.

“We know we’ve had a stuttering start to the season. If the fans get behind the lads, then the lads will repay them.”

York, meanwhile, will include former Quakers keeper Pete Jameson and striker Mark Beck – Darlington’s Kallum Griffiths is also facing his old club – and currently lie 12th in the table, with two wins and three defeats from their league games so far.