ANGRY Alun Armstrong held a dressing room inquest in the aftermath of his team’s defeat at Darlington, saying his team were “outworked” by Quakers and also labelled his out-of-form players as being “too nice”.

It was close to 6pm by the time the last of the Blyth players departed Blackwell Meadows after they had lost 3-0 to Quakers, continuing their miserable run of form.

Promoted last season as champions from the Northern Premier League, just as Quakers were in 2016, they maintained their momentum into this season, but a run of only one win in their last seven league games has seen Spartans slip to seventh, and Armstrong is frustrated.

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“There’s a bit of complacency there, thinking we’re going to win games, and that something will happen,” said the Blyth boss, who had two spells with Darlington during his playing career.

“You have to earn the right to play. We are where are in the table because we’ve worked hard, and then we’ve played well after that.

“But at this moment in time the lads think they can just play football and that something will happen for them, but we’re not matching the work ethic of the other teams.

“We’ve had a good heart-to-heart with them in there, said a few home truths, and we’re looking for a massive reaction now.

“Something has got to happen, it’s either them or me. Something has to change.”

After winning 3-2 at York City just before Christmas, Blyth’s solitary success has been a 4-0 win over Gainsborough Trinity, a run that has seen two defeats to Spennymoor Town, and losses to Alfreton and Boston.

Armstrong added: “You just need that win to get you back on track, but you’ve got to be hard to beat and at this moment in time we’re not.

“They’re not helping each other out.

“They’re a great group of players, but they’re too nice.”

Darlington went ahead in first-half injury time, Stephen Thompson scoring a penalty after Ryan Hutchinson was adjudged to have fouled Reece Styche, a decision that frustrated Blyth’s players, but their boss was focused on their defending.

He said: “I thought the first half was even and the penalty killed us. Was it a penalty? I don’t know, Hutchy said he didn’t get the ball but their kid dived. But it was poor defending before that, it was a straight ball and straight run, he should never get in. It was just poor defending.

“I thought the second half started alright, we were pretty even again, and then we give a free-kick away and there was a free header from there, and that killed the game.

“We then had to change it, and that opened us up massively. Everyone knows our frailties probably do lie defensively, and once we open up we are quite capable of losing a few goals.”

Darlington’s second and third goals came midway through the second half, by Styche and Dave Syers, Quakers completing a thoroughly deserved victory which takes them up to 15th.

Armstrong continued: “I think we gave the ball away far too much in the second half, our basic passing game just wasn’t there today, but fair play to Darlington, they worked their socks off.

“That’s what I said to our lads, we got outworked, Darlington wanted it more than us and that’s the biggest worry for me.

“Everyone knows what players are at Darlington. They are in a transition stage but they’ve still got some good players and I thought Stephen Thompson was the best player on the pitch.”