Darlington produced one of their best all round performances of the season to beat league leaders Fylde.

The brilliance of Luke Charman produced the only goal of the game, but it was their all-round defensive performance in the second half, which was backed to the hilt by the fans, that guaranteed the points.

Manager Alun Armstrong praised the desire of his players to hold on to the points as Fylde piled on the pressure, although goalkeeper Tommy Taylor didn’t have all that much to do, because of the dogged defending in front of him from all of his team mates.

“It was a very tense game, and the fans helped us massively in the closing stages of the game,” he said.

“I could sense during the week in training that it was coming together.

“We knew that we were in for a tough game, but I thought the gameplan worked incredibly well.

“I thought that every single one of the lads showed so much desire to get the result, that I don’t think the fans can complain. “Joe Wheatley was fantastic considering he’d been out for so long, and that he and Alex Purver were superb by stopping their dangerman, Nick Haughton, from playing.

“I’m delighted that we got that little bit of luck with Tommy’s fantastic save – he deserved that clean sheet.”

Fylde started the game hoping that Quakers might concede an early sloppy goal, but the home side were ready for them and matched them in the opening stages. Armstrong had moved Jake Cooper across to right back from centre half, in a back-four.

With Wheatley back to his best on his first start since his absence, Quakers slowly got on top.

Charman saw a volley from a Jarrett Rivers cross flash just wide after six minutes, and was a handful for the rest of the half.

Darlington nearly scored on 21 minutes. Ben Hedley found Rivers with a good diagonal ball on the right, and the winger crossed for Will Hatfield to head just over.

But Charman’s persistence helped him find the target on the half hour.

Wheatley controlled the ball well on the edge of the box and threaded it through for the former Newcastle striker who turned quickly and lashed the ball across goalkeeper Bobby Jones into the top corner for his tenth goal of the season.

Armstrong added: “I thought that Wheats did lovely to slide Luke in, and I’ve seen Luke do that in training every week. He rifles them in left foot and right foot.

“The kid has so much ability – I thought his performance was reminiscent of his Swindon one in the FA Cup last season, when he was up front on his own, holding the ball up and bringing others into play, and creating openings for himself and others.”

It was a different story in the second half as Fylde put some concerted attacks together.

However, Darlington keeper Taylor didn’t have all that much to do, because he was well protected by a strong defence which was well commanded by Danny Ellis and Jake Lawlor.

There were only two occasions when he was called into serious action. The first when Nick Haughton hit a low shot that he pushed away one-handed, and the second led to his save of the season of so far, an athletic one-handed stop from a point blank effort by Jack Sampson.

That preserved Quakers’ first clean sheet since October 9, and it also knocked Fylde off the top of the table.