SMILES on faces, goals to cheer and three points in the bag well before full-time. It was just like old times for Darlington.

In the final few minutes fans were even chanting they wanted a fourth goal, it was that sort of day, a convincing 3-0 win wiping away months of misery and giving hope to the future.

Darlington were good value for the victory over Blyth Spartans, with several contenders for the man of the match award, something that’s rarely been said this season.

Beating an out-of-form Blyth – who are seventh, but dropping like a stone having won only one of their last seven league games – is perhaps not the toughest task in the National League North right now, but the manner of victory certainly boosts Quakers’ confidence as well as extend their unbeaten run.

They are now 15th, belief has grown among players and fans having gone four without a loss for the first time since the first four fixtures of the season, hardly a herculean feat, but a relative achievement nonetheless in this difficult campaign.

Relieved manager Tommy Wright said: “It’s been coming.

“The lads were brilliant. From the first whistle they continued the momentum they had from last Saturday. I challenged them to do it.

“They were up against a good team, it was a local derby, I told them to go and put a performance on for the fans and they did.

“Man for man they were outstanding and I couldn’t be prouder.

“We’ve shown in patches that we can be a good team. I’ve kept saying that we are a good team, that we aren’t far away, but let’s not get carried away.”

Wright’s right to be cautious, his team remains entrenched in the bottom half of the table, but momentum has now been created, kick-started by last week’s win at Leamington.

Having finished that game so well, a 3-2 victory, Wright started with the same XI that were on the pitch at full-time, so that meant recalls for Dave Syers, Phil Turnbull and the rejuvenated James Caton.

“The team talk was all about building on what we did in the last 25 minutes last Saturday, to do that we needed the same players on the pitch,” explained Wright.

“If I’d started with players who weren’t on the pitch for the last 25 minutes, they could’ve turned around and asked ‘what was the point in saying that?’

“The lads knew how we’d played with Phil dropping deep and making us tick, the full-backs getting involved, the wingers staying high and wide and Syers staying close to Stychey.

“They knew what I wanted, I didn’t have to go into too much detail because they’d done it last week.”

Last week, however, Leamington had played over half the game with ten men, and their league position illustrates they are a poorer team than Blyth, who traded chances with Quakers during an entertaining and even first half.

Blyth’s ex-Quakers goalkeeper Peter Jameson, who received a warm reception from the Tin Shed, was beaten once, but Syers’ header was ruled out for offside, while at the other end birthday boy Terry Galbraith, now 28, executed a finely-timed challenge to stop Dan Maguire pulling the trigger.

With Gary Brown on the bench and Darlington playing four at the back, Galbraith partnered Josh Heaton, who was again excellent. More of the same and scouts will come knocking.

Darlington goalkeeper Aynsley Pears, another talented youngster, played his part with two fine saves, the first when he flung himself to his left to keep out a Michael Liddle effort five minutes before the break, and it proved decisive as in added time Darlington took the lead for the fourth game in a row.

Reece Styche was fouled by Ryan Hutchinson, Blyth disputed the call, and Stephen Thompson blasted home his fifth successful penalty this season from as many attempts.

Wright said: “Players like Reece, they’re very good at using their body in the penalty area, they draw the foul. It was clumsy of their player and a bit naïve.”

However, having been unable to maintain 1-0 leads recently against York, Alfreton, Chorley and Leamington, there was a certain amount of trepidation, particularly amid a spell of Blyth pressure early in the second half.

Pears quelled fears, however, when he made a second super save, this time keeping out Dale Hopson, another former Quaker, and shortly it was 2-0.

The goal came on 57 minutes, scored by that man again Styche.

Having also provided an assist last week, Caton set it up with a cracking cross from the left following a Syers pass, pulling the ball back after taking a man on and then Styche converted for his ninth goal in ten appearances.

Alun Armstrong, Spartans’ boss, made a couple of substitutions and a tactical tweak. They almost pulled one back, Robbie Dale then hitting the post, but Blyth conceded a third on 73 minutes, Syers putting the game to bed.

“The goal I liked the most was the third,” said Wright. “They’re the kind of goals that make me happy – a little cross into the box by Thompson and bullet header, and that’s what Dave Syers brings.

“When he’s in that pocket of space behind the striker, he times his run to perfection and he scores goals.”

Blyth had a couple of sniffs at goal late on, nothing to worry Pears, who had the honour keeping Quakers’ first clean in 20 matches.

Wright added: “You want clean sheets, but you can become obsessive over them.

“What do you? Do park the bus at 3-0 up? I was enjoying watching the boys play. I loved the full-backs bombing on, and sometimes you’re going to get caught open.

“I would’ve been disappointed if the lads had conceded at the end, that would’ve been sloppy, but the way the lads played today was ‘chains off, go and enjoy yourselves’.”