DARLINGTON manager Josh Gowling believes that his players are in a much better mental place as they prepare for tomorrow’s home game with Chester.

Quakers have yet to win a league game in eight attempts at home this season – both their league victories have been away from home at Alfreton and Farsley – and with three out of the next four league games at Blackwell Meadows, this is the right time to start winning and climbing the table.

And Gowling believes that last Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Farsley will provide the platform for his side to climb away from relegation trouble.

“It’s been a while since we’ve won at home, so we need to turn that form around,” he said. “We need to pick up points to get us where we want to be in the table, but Chester are one of the promotion-chasing teams just like they were last season, so it will be a tough game.

“We showed the lads the good and not-so-good things of Tuesday’s defeat at Peterborough. We were good in the first half before Peterborough scored, but in the second half we became very safe and predictable and went direct, which didn’t get us anywhere. We need to be brave, get on the ball and keep pushing.

“If Kallum Griffiths had scored at 0-0, I think we’d have won that game comfortably. Instead, we conceded a poor goal which knocked the stuffing out of us a bit. We have to be better than that.

“We’ve got to be more clinical when chances come along. The best teams are clinical when they get their opportunities, and that’s what we need to be.

“Since the Spennymoor game, we’ve come on in leaps and bounds with our first win and the way that we’re playing, but at the moment when we’re on top, we need to score. We need to be a bit more careful with the final pass, shot or delivery.

“We’re the architects of our own downfall at times, then it becomes very frustrating for the players. Then when you’re frustrated and you get a chance in front of goal, and you miss it, it puts even more pressure on them to score.

“I believe that we are in a better place mentally. Yes, we lost in midweek, but getting three points at Farsley last Saturday was a massive plus. In good long periods of games we have been playing well. Hopefully, if we score first, then we’ll be comfortable.”

Quakers are the second-lowest scorers in the league with just 12 goals to their credit – only Banbury are worse – and only three clubs have scored fewer than their seven goals at home. Quakers have only taken the lead once when Gowling has been in charge, and that was last Saturday at Farsley.

Chester come to Blackwell Meadows in eighth place in the National League North table, and unbeaten in their last four league games, the last two being away wins at Curzon Ashton and Southport.

They’re still in the FA Cup, and have a first-round replay at York to look forward to on Tuesday after holding them to a goalless draw last weekend.

Darlington will be missing Tom Platt tomorrow, with the midfielder suspended for one game having picked up five bookings in the league.

Centre-half Jake Lawlor will have a fitness test on the back injury which kept him out of the 2-0 defeat at Peterborough Sports on Tuesday. Mitch Curry and Jordan Windass are also missing because of injury.

Gowling is expected to drop Jacob Hazel and recall Andrew Nelson.