STEVE WATSON couldn't have asked for a tougher start to his Darlington home career that a meeting with league leaders Tamworth – but he is determined to improve Quakers’ record at Blackwell Meadows.

Watson became Quakers’ third permanent manager of the season 11 days ago, and after two away games at King’s Lynn and Southport, he takes charge of his first home game tomorrow afternoon.

Winning at Blackwell Meadows has been a big problem for Quakers this season, as they have only won once and drawn seven times in 13 home league games, scoring just 12 goals in the process.  Only one club has a worse home return in the league. They also won an FA Cup tie against Workington, but then lost in the next round to Scarborough.

Watson is determined to start putting this right, although it will be a tough task against a team that has the best away record in the league, with eight wins and two draws.

“We shouldn’t be treating this as a free hit,” he said. “We’re Darlington Football Club. When you’re playing a top of the table team, and not in the best of form, people might look at it as a free hit, but we’re trying to get three points and planning for it.

“We’ve played two games so far. We’ve not been outplayed, we just haven’t had that killer blow in front of goal. I thought we did lots of things right at Southport, and we weren’t far away. We just didn’t take the opportunities when they came along.”

Watson, who has followed Alun Armstrong and Josh Gowling into the manager’s hot-seat, tasted victory by the only goal of the game at King’s Lynn last Saturday, but then Quakers demonstrated why they are the lowest-scoring team in the league by losing 2-0 at Southport on Tuesday night. They created some good opportunities, but failed to take them which meant that they failed to score for the 13th league game this season.

“We’re playing a team that is riding high, and we’ve got to accept that they are going to be buoyant," added Watson. "We’ve got to get back to not defending as much.

"If we’re not holding the ball, not playing in their half and not keeping possession, then we’re going to be defending for long spells. We’ve got to have the confidence to get up the pitch, and keep the ball in good areas.

“It’s my first home game, and the home record this season hasn’t been very good – but records are there to be broken."

Defender Kallum Griffiths and midfielder Jonny Ngandu are both hoping to be back after illness, while defender Cardo Siddik will have a fitness test on a knee injury.

New signing Scott Barrow, on loan from York, will make his home debut.

Tamworth were promoted last season, and have established a five-point lead at the top of the table following their 3-0 win at Warrington in midweek.

They won the reverse game by 4-0 at the Lamb back in October, when they outplayed Quakers from start to finish.