STEVE Watson has been recognised for his exceptional work in leading Darlington to safety after being named as April's National League North Manager of the Month.

It's a deserved gong for Watson, whose Quakers side went unbeaten in the final month of the season to secure their unlikely safety with a game to spare.

Darlington looked destined for the drop when Watson took charge at the end of December. At that stage, Quakers had won just four games all season and the appointment of Josh Gowling earlier in the campaign had been a disaster.

But Watson inspired Darlington, who went on a remarkable run, winning 12 of 21 games, including 10 from their last 14.

After successive defeats at the end of March, Watson got Darlington back on track in April. They kicked off the month with a crucial 3-1 win at Warrington and then followed that up with home victories over Southport and Farsley Celtic, the latter win securing safety. Quakers then drew 0-0 at Chester on the final weekend of the season.

Darlington moved quickly to tie Watson down to a new longer-term contract, with his popular assistant Terry Mitchell also extending his stay at Blackwell Meadows.

The award-winning boss has already turned his attention to the future.

After signing his new deal, he said:  "Promotion has to be the next step in the next couple of seasons. That's what we have to aim for.

"Obviously we want to improve next season but that's the ultimate plan, to get to the other side of the table, to be knocking on the door of the play-offs and get this club out of the league.

"That has to be the plan. You hear a lot of managers playing it down, I'm not playing it down, that's where we need to be and what we need to aim for."

Brackley Town winger Morgan Roberts won the Player of the Month award for April. Brackley face Boston in the play-off final this Saturday.