Darlington were relieved to record their first win in seven matches.

At Blackwell Meadows, they beat swept aside mid-table Hereford 3-0, a much-needed win lifted them to fifth in the table.

There has been a question mark over Quakers’ defence as they have thrown away seven points from winning positions in three away games, but a new pairing of Jake Cooper and Jassem Sukar in the middle of defence provided the platform for victory.

Hopefully, Quakers have now turned the corner, and they can now increase the three-point gap which exists between them and eighth placed Gloucester. They might not catch the top three, but finishing fourth or fifth would give them home advantage in the qualifying round of the play offs.

"It was a much-needed win," admitted manager Alun Armstrong. “The biggest thing for me was confidence for the lads. We did reasonably well, but conceding goals has been the monkey on our backs in the last few games.

“We’ve been working on a few things in training. I decided to put Jake Cooper and Jassem Sukar in the middle of defence because I thought they would be more mobile for us and get us higher up the pitch. I thought Coops was outstanding, and I was delighted for the back four and Tommy our keeper.

“That’s why I keep harping on about an extra session so then we can work on things. We don’t have the time at the moment unfortunately and when players drop out because of injuries, it ruins the whole gameplan.

“We’ve got to give the lads credit. We were well on top without creating too much to begin with, but once we got the first goal, you could see that we were going to score a few more after that.”

Darlington created some good chances in the first half, notably when Andrew Nelson drilled the ball into the six-yard box where Kaine Felix somehow scooped the ball over the top.

The home side took the lead on 38 minutes when Jassem Sukar’s long ball forward was nodded down by a defender, under pressure from Hazel, for Jarrett Rivers to fire past the keeper with a half-volley from 20 yards.

“What a sweet strike from Jarrett,” said Armstrong. “That lad has been through a lot – he’s had Covid twice, and he’s struggled both physically and mentally.

“To put performances in like he has over these last two games is a credit. He ran 18 kilometres against Fylde, they don’t run that much in the Premier League. He’s a proper team player.”

There was a big turning point on 63 minutes. A good Hereford break ended with Dan Jarvis having a powerful shot saved by Taylor, who only got a fingertip to the follow up but Cooper was covering behind him to clear off the line.

Quakers went straight down the other end and scored. Andrew Nelson found Felix on the right with a 30 yard pass, and raced to the far post for Felix’s return ball. The former Sunderland youngster miskicked with the goal at his mercy at first, but he recovered and stabbed the ball home.

Armstrong said: “Nella started the move when he played it out to Kaine Felix, and he hasn’t stood admiring it. Instead, he ran into the box to the back stick and got on the end of the return ball as centre forwards do.

“He gained a little piece of luck which he’s deserved for what he’s gone through in the last 18 months. What he’s been through, and what he’s doing now, is massive. I want to keep playing him and Jacob Hazel together, we’re better when we have two strikers up top.”

Quakers weren’t really troubled after that, and the afternoon was complete when Alex Purver and sub Ben Liddle helped the ball into the Hereford box for Hazel to shrug off a defender and score with a left foot shot, his 20th of the season.

Darlington are at Farsley on Tuesday when they hope to include new signing Dec Howe, a striker with Cleethorpes Town, in the squad.