Darlington promotion hopes were at risk - Raj Singh

Raj Singh
Singh removed Mark Cooper as manager with the club's hopes of a return to the Football League in mind

Darlington chairman Raj Singh says he parted company with manager Mark Cooper to salvage the club's Blue Square Bet Premier promotion hopes this season.

The Quakers are 14th after 18 games going into the FA Cup fourth qualifying round weekend, 11 points behind Cambridge in the final play-off spot.

"One of the reasons for moving now was to give the next guy enough games to turn it round," Singh told BBC Tees.

"It'll give somebody a good chance to get us in the play-offs, definitely."

Singh added: "On the form we've had it looks like we're a million miles away at the moment, but we've all seen someone come in and win four or five games on the bounce and you're up and away.

"We've got 28 games left, so that's enough time as long as we get that bit of luck, hit the ground running and steer clear of injuries.

"I have no doubt we have a good, strong squad on paper."

Cooper's exit came just five months after the FA Trophy final success against Mansfield at Wembley, an occasion Singh described in the club's statement as "the club's greatest day ever".

"We had the day at Wembley which all the Darlington fans savoured, and we thought we were going to build on that," the Teesside businessman said.

"As far as what went wrong, it's not one particular thing because people are saying we're not scoring enough goals and we're letting in a lot of goals.

"Some people are saying the signings that Mark has made haven't worked out, so I think it's a combination of things. Once things start to go wrong people start pointing fingers and making their own judgements.

"The top and the bottom of it is we haven't delivered."

Craig Liddle, who led the Quakers youth team to the FA Youth Cup third round last season, will take temporary charge of the club for Saturday's FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie with Hinckley United.

However, the intention is to have a new manager in place for the following weekend's league fixture at AFC Telford United.

"The applications are coming in, we've had a few, and the phone hasn't stopped ringing," Singh continued.

"It's about trying to make up your mind and bring the right person in to get the best out of this squad."

BBC Tees has online commentary of every Darlington game with Ray Simpson and Kevan Smith.