DARLINGTON’S defeat of Blyth Spartans had been a long time coming, believes Reece Styche, the Quakers striker who added to his goal tally in Saturday’s 3-0 win.

It was the team’s biggest win since beating FC United 3-0 in September, which was also the last time Quakers had kept a clean sheet.

Nineteen games in league and cup during the intervening period had been played, during which time Darlington changed managers, oversaw a number of personnel changes in the squad and won just three times.

Slowly, however, Tommy Wright’s men appear to be turning the corner, with some better performances and results of late, form they hope to take into this weekend’s encounter at Bradford Park Avenue.

“That performance has been coming and we could’ve won by more,” said Styche, whose second-half goal was his ninth in Quakers colours.

“I don’t think it was offside for the goal in the first half, and my header in the second half should’ve gone across the keeper, so we had some good chances and I don’t think we were troubled at all.

“We were happy to get three points, but just as happy to keep a clean sheet because it had been a long time coming.

“Things like that install massive confidence in the squad.

"There’s times when we switch off a bit and lose our concentration, but as players we’re at this level for a reason.”

For the first time since their opening matches of the season Darlington are now undefeated in four fixtures, while Wright’s side have suffered narrow losses to York and Salford.

“If you look at the performances, we haven’t been getting hammered by teams,” added Styche. “Defensive errors have cost us. You make one error and that’s it, you get punished.

“I was speaking to a lad I played with at Tamworth, he was asking what it’s like here. I told him it is brilliant, I said ‘Even though we’ve been going through a bad patch, I’ve never heard them boo us’.

“I think they can see we’ve been playing well against these so-called top teams with the big budgets, we’ve matched them stride for stride.”

Including his record at Tamworth over the first three months of the season, Styche now has now 19 goals in 24 appearances, his nine Darlington goals coming in just ten games in black and white – Shaun Reay managed the same feat at the beginning of 2012-13.

Styche also won the penalty from which Stephen Thompson opening the scoring with his 80th goal for the club, though Blyth were not convinced that Ryan Hutchinson had fouled the forward.

“It was a penalty 100 per cent,” said Styche. “I said to him ‘You’re sliding in the area when I’m just about to have a shot, it’s a penalty all done long whether you clip me or not’. Why would I have gone down? I want to shoot, I want to score.

“I didn’t want him sent off, I don’t want anyone to get sent off, but I had a big bust up with their winger, the tall one. He went down holding his face, I called him a cheat and asked him why he was trying to get someone sent off.

“If players are going to cheat to try and get someone sent off that makes them a coward, as far as I’m concerned.

He went down holding his face and shouting at the lino that I had swung for him, but I hadn’t even touched him. Things like that really frustrate me.”