Having watched his team fold in the face of a direct approach 10 days ago, a tactical tweak is in Alun Armstrong’s thoughts ahead of Saturday's trip down the A1 to Kettering.

The previous away game a week last Tuesday at Southport saw Darlington put in a poor performance, unable to deal with a series of high balls into the penalty area and the 3-0 defeat was thoroughly deserved.

A similar style is expected of Kettering, who are one position below Quakers having played four fewer fixtures.

“We know what to expect and hopefully the lads have learned from the Southport game, which was dire,” admitted manager Alun Armstrong.

“I need to decide whether we go with three centre-backs to deal with their long balls, but I cannot go too expansive away from home.

“I need to take some of the responsibility for what happened at Southport. If we had beaten Leamington the previous weekend, I probably wouldn’t have gone with two centre-forwards at Southport, I probably would’ve gone more solid.

“But when you’ve drawn a home game that you expected to win you end up chasing your tail a bit in going for a win, and it proved costly.

“There were errors from everyone, not just the lads, me included.”

Much depends on the availability or otherwise of Danny Ellis, who has been nursing abdomen and calf complaints.

But George Smith was not part of the travelling party when Darlington headed for Northamptonshire this afternoon.

Armstrong said: “George is still shy for this weekend, we’re hoping to introduce him back into ball work next week.

“Would I have risked him on a pitch like Saturday’s? I doubt it.

“We’re better with Danny and George in the team, we know that, but the lads have got to step up and take responsibility.”

Luke Charman starts a three-game suspension after being red-carded in the dying seconds at Southport having been involved in an altercation with Jack Bainbridge, though he would be absent anyway due to injury.

Jack Lambert replaced Charman for last weekend’s 5-1 win against under-strength Guiseley, whose starting XI had an average age of 19.

“Jack has been brilliant and we’ve got to find a way of getting him in the team. I’ll look at different formations,” said Armstrong.

“Luke has quite a bad shoulder injury from that fracas at Southport. I don’t know how he was sent off there, he was the one pinned down and now has a shoulder injury, but the referee sent him off.

“He’ll miss three games and we’re hoping he’ll be back for Boston, that’s what Danny has pencilled him in for. He can still do a lot fitness-wise, but he can’t do contact.”