A NORTH-EAST team, playing in black-and-white, who hope this week will mark a turning point after a traumatic few years and a difficult start to the season. What’s good enough for Newcastle United is good enough for Darlington. And who needs Saudi Arabian investment funds when you’ve got Luke Charman banging in the goals like there is no tomorrow?

Charman’s seventh goal in as many league games proved sufficient to see off a hard-working Hereford United side, enabling Darlington to record back-to-back victories for the first time this season and lifting them into the top half of the National League North table.

Had things turned out differently, the Durham-born 23-year-old might have been benefiting from Saudi Arabian riches given that he started his career in Newcastle’s academy and captained the Magpies’ Under-21s side in the EFL Trophy before he was released by Steve Bruce in the summer of 2020.

Darlington sensed an opportunity, and while it has taken a little while for Charman to fully spark into life, he is now displaying the kind of form that once marked him out as a promising talent on the professional stage.

“He’s flying,” said Quakers assistant Darren Holloway, who continues to stand in for Alun Armstrong as the Darlington boss recovers from emergency hernia surgery. “I think it’s just about a consistency level with Luke. His work rate is getting better and better, along with his link-up play.

“He’s simplifying things, which we were on to him about because when he does that, he looks like a player. On top of that, he’s chipping in with those goals, and long may that continue. Hopefully, he’ll continue to reap the rewards for the hard work he’s put in.”

Charman settled things in the eighth minute at the weekend, glancing home a deft header after full-back Ben Hedley swung over a cross from the right.

Darlington had chances to extend their lead, most notably when Will Hatfield lashed over with the goal seemingly at his mercy at the start of the second half, but for the majority of the game, Quakers’ main focus was on keeping Hereford at arm’s length.

They achieved that impressively, thanks largely to the efforts of veteran centre-half Danny Ellis, whose arrival from Farsley Celtic at the end of last month has transformed Darlington’s defensive resolve and organisation pretty much at a stroke, and the goalkeeping heroics of Tommy Taylor, who controlled his 18-yard box superbly and chipped in with three or four excellent saves when called into action to protect his side’s clean sheet.

Taylor kept out a fierce first-half shot from Ben Pollock, son of former Middlesbrough midfielder Jamie, and produced an even better stop in the second half to parry away Ryan Lloyd’s fiercely-hit strike.

“Tommy came and claimed a lot, which gives the defence a lot of confidence,” said Holloway. “He made one or two saves, and we just weathered the storm enough to get the three points.”

Having swept aside Telford seven days earlier with a display of free-flowing attacking play, this was a much grittier Darlington performance, although it was no less notable because of that.

In the opening two months of the season, Quakers’ soft underbelly meant they were much too easy to play against. That flakiness has disappeared, replaced with a solidity and structure that augurs well for the future.

“They can go back to this,” agreed Holloway. “It’s a monkey off their backs because they’ve ground a result out and got a win. I think that can only breed confidence."