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Darlington Preview

By: Richard Lord
Date: 16/01/2006

TUESDAY night sees the Mariners travel to Darlington for the rearranged League Two match, which was originally cancelled in mid-December because of a frozen pitch. A victory will put Grimsby back at the top of League Two.

Home > 2005-2006 Season > Previews > Darlington (a)

Darlington started the campaign as promotion contenders but their progress has been halted through inconsistency. Their present league position only leaves the play-offs as a realistic target, but with teams queuing into the bottom half of the table holding similar aspirations, the task will be a little more complicated than the current two-point gap suggests.

The Quakers will find some confidence from their impressive home record, which includes seven wins and two defeats. However, it's their away form that has prevented Dave Hodgson's side from mounting a serious promotion challenge - with the early-season victory at Blundell Park being just one of two wins on the road this campaign.

In goal is Kasper Schmeichel - the son of former Manchester United stopper Peter, currently on loan from parent club Manchester City. Defender Matt Clark has made over 150 appearances for the Quakers and he'll be partnered by David McGurk, who has recently returned to the side following a loan spell at York City. Former Middlesbrough and Hearts midfielder Phil Stamp hasn't played much this season, but came on as a sub in Darlington's 2-1 win against Peterborough at the weekend. Up front is Paul Hopkins, a loan signing from Everton. He scored against Peterborough and is likely to be paired with another loan singing - Kyle Lafferty, who's on the books at Burnley.

Grimsby go into the game with no new injury worries reported from the gutsy win over Mansfield. It means that manager Russell Slade will stick to the same team where possible - but with the emergence of John McDermott from the treatment room, he might be tempted to start the club captain, with Matt Bloomer making way. Gary Croft has also recovered sufficiently, but the form of Tom Newey is likely to keep Croft out of the starting eleven.

Darlington lost their danger man in Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu when the DR Congo man moved to Cardiff as soon as the transfer window was opened. Clive Wijnhard also made a permanent transfer away from the club, signing for Macclesfield - the club he'd been on loan with earlier in the season.

Town's away form looks impressive, but their most recent performances on the road have been anything but impressive. However, their determination to grind out results when the performance has been lacking is something the team has acquired over the course of the season.

The incentive of winning their game in hand and topping the league as a result should be enough to spur the Mariners on. Darlington have their own play-off ambitions and it all makes for a close game.

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