Martin Gray believes Darlington 1883’s 4-1 win at Warrington Town left the Evo-Stik North leaders looking distinctly “average”.
And the Quakers boss insists such a convincing victory dispatches a “very strong message” to the rest of the league about his side’s promotion credentials.
Darlington produced their best performance of the season to hand The Wire their first defeat in 17 games.
A brace apiece from David Dowson and Amar Purewal were enough to claim the three points, though Ciaran Kilheney grabbed a late consolation goal for the hosts.
And having fielded a weakened team in last Wednesday’s Doodson Sport Cup defeat to Ossett Town, Gray believes victory more than justified that sacrificial decision.
“We were very strong today, everybody was at the top of their game,” he said.
“The result sends out a very strong message to everybody that we will be challenging strongly for promotion for the rest of the season.
“I thought we made Warrington look average, because our all round play was very good.
“My decision to rest players during the week for the League Cup tie was proven correct because they were all very sharp.”
Sharp enough that on 20 minutes Leon Scott won possession in midfield, Stephen Thompson split the Warrington defence with a through ball and though home goalkeeper Josh Cook got a hand to the ball, Dowson’s effort made it 1-0.
Six minutes later, the goalscorer latched onto Jonny Davis’ pass to double the lead.
The home side simply were not in it, and by the hour mark they were long gone.
Terry Galbraith crossed, Purewal headed in.
And in the 81st minute, the Quakers sealed victory when Thompson and substitute Nathan Fisher combined to set up Purewal again.
Kilheney fired in a consolation strike during added time, but it was far from enough to deny Darlington the season double over Warrington Town.