King's Lynn 3 Darlington 0: Reality check as Quakers lose to league leaders

Alun Armstrong watched Darlington lose at King's Lynn
Alun Armstrong watched Darlington lose at King's Lynn

DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong admitted that Quakers were second best in their top of the table clash at King's Lynn.

Quakers’ eight-match unbeaten run came to an end in disappointing fashion against the full-time side, after two careless passes led to two Linnets goals in the first half, but nevertheless they are still in second place going into tomorrow’s game at Buxton.

As Armstrong said, the players must react from the jolt of this defeat against a quicker and sharper team, which emphasised the difference in spending powers between the two clubs. It was something of a reality check.

“I thought we gave them the first two goals,” he said. “We were sloppy in possession straight away, and the gameplan went out of the window when they scored two goals like that.

“I was really disappointed in the manner, once the second goal went in, that we didn’t react really well and our heads dropped.

“To be fair to Kings Lynn, they were brighter and sharper than us. They kept running beyond us and could have scored more goals.

“I had to change things by bringing on two subs before half-time and match them up to make sure we stemmed the flow. I felt for Rosey (Danny Rose) and Haze (Jacob Hazel) but I had to do it because we were being over-run.

“I told the players exactly what we needed to do at half-time, but we dropped 20 yards deep and allowed them to score a third goal. The players have to take these things on board, there are some experienced players in the dressing room and so there are no excuses.

“By all accounts that was the best King’s Lynn have played at home this season, but we gave them a massive lift with that first goal.

“I’ll never have a go at lads for wanting to get on the ball, it’s when they’re hiding from team-mates and they’re under pressure, that’s the problem I’ve got with it.”

King’s Lynn were given the boost they wanted after just five minutes. Quakers lost the ball on the halfway line, and Josh Barrett was able to run to the edge of the box, switch the ball to his right foot, and curl a delightful effort over Darlington keeper Tommy Taylor into the top corner.

Quakers slowly edged their edged their way back into the game, and forced three corners, the third of which was cleared to Adriano Moke, who struck a right-foot shot that Linnets keeper Paul Jones touched over the bar.

Quakers’ defending wasn’t as good as previous games, and they were open to quick counter-attacks. Former Coventry player Jordan Ponticelli broke through one-on-one on the left-hand side, and Taylor smothered well at his feet.

It was only a brief respite though. Quakers gave the ball away in a dangerous area again, allowing Barrett to get away down the right and set up Ponticelli to stroke the ball past Taylor.

Armstrong’s response was to take off Rose and Hazell, replacing them with newcomer Joe Leesley and Jack Lambert, and changing formations using wing-backs instead of orthodox full-backs.

But there was no way back for Quakers just after half-time when Barrett found space to pick up a through ball and lob it over Taylor.

Quakers nearly pulled one back when the hard-working Felix dispossessed a defender, ran into the box and set up Lambert, whose low effort was pushed away by Jones.

There was another chance on 75 minutes when Moke cut in from the right, played a one-two with Lambert, but fired over the bar.

But Quakers’ weakness at the back was almost exposed again when Michael Clunan got round the back on the right and set up Gold Omotayo, but his point-blank effort was saved by Taylor.