Caretaker boss Mick Tait is a positive manager but even he struggled to find favourable words to describe Saturday's goalless draw at home to Macclesfield.

"The worst performance I've seen in the ten games I've been in charge," was Tait's post-match synopsis of a drab affair which, if nothing else, extended Quakers' unbeaten run to six games.

Perhaps Tait is becoming a victim of his own success after recording five wins, three draws and a defeat in his opening nine matches in charge.

Certainly expectations were high prior to Saturday's game with in-form Quakers looking to secure win number four on the trot against a depleted Macclesfield side, winless in their previous five league games.

But like one famous football pundit once said 'Football is a funny old game' and while you will have found few smiles in the Darlington ranks at the full-time whistle, David Moss's side will have been more than satisfied with their point.

After the game Tait admitted there was no shying away from a poor game which produced two red cards - one for each team.

"It was a bad performance and I've told the players that," said Tait

"They know that, although I didn't really need to tell them."

Barry Conlon was shown the red card in the second half for kicking the ball at David Eaton, despite the ball being in open play, and Macclesfield debutant Michael Carr was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence after 74 minutes for holding back Clark Keltie.

"What Barry's done has looked very aggressive but he's done nothing but kick the ball," explained Tait.

"Their lad was on the ground, the ball was in play and how it was a sending off I will never know."

This was an off-day that Tait will accept as long as it doesn't happen too often.

"If we get one bad game in every ten I'll be happy with that," he added.

"I think it was a fair result in the end because neither side really deserved to win.

"They had one chance, we had one chance and that's all there was to the game.

"The rest of the game was played in midfield and I thought both defences did well when called upon.

"All in all it was a poor game for the fans and a poor game for everybody really."

Tait made one change from the side which won at Hull with on-loan goalkeeper Andy Lonergan coming in for his debut.

And although the Preston shot stopper rarely had a save to make, he impressed when called upon.

"I thought Andy was excellent," said Tait.

"He looked very composed and dealt with quite a few back passes very well.

"What caught the eye more than anything was his handling."

The game's first incident saw Carr go into the referee's notebook after just 32 seconds when he went through Ashley Nicholls, although the slippery surface may have played some part in the infringement.

The pair reversed roles a couple of minutes later when Nicholls gave Carr a taste of his own medicine with a similar challenge and the former Ipswich youngster was lucky to get away with just a talking to from the referee.

The first opportunity of the game came the visitors' way when Matt Tipton found space down the left before cutting in and with Quakers defenders backing off, the striker let fly only to see his effort go high and wide of Lonergan's goal.

Macclesfield 'keeper Steve Wilson was then called into action when he saved Richard Offiong's header comfortably from Richard Hodgson's searching cross.

Quakers were awarded an indirect free-kick just inside the Macclesfield box after 24 minutes when Clark Keltie was caught in the face by the high foot of Silkmen defender Michael Welch.

The resulting free-kick was played out to Keltie whose low drive was palmed away by Wilson.

Richard Offiong came close on the half hour mark when he picked up Nicholls' charged down shot before turning his marker and firing just wide.

With time running out in the first half, Eaton turned skipper Craig Liddle inside out down the left before bearing down on Lonergan only to see Liddle lunge in with a challenge which did enough to put off the winger.

Matt Clarke and Richard Offiong were replaced by Ian Clark and Neil Wainwright at half-time as Tait reverted to 4-4-2.

But before Wainwright could make any kind of impact, Quakers were reduced to ten men with less than ten minutes of the second half played.

Conlon reacted angrily to a challenge from Eaton and with the Macclesfield winger grounded, the big Irishman appeared to kick the ball off his body.

A brawl ensued between both sets of players and when the referee eventually calmed things down Conlon saw red.

For the second week running Quakers were made to play the majority of the second half with ten men, with Clark playing as lone striker.

However, Macclesfield's one-man advantage was to last just 20 minutes when Eaton was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

With time running out, Kyle Lightbourne broke down the left before crossing for Tipton who glanced his header wide.

And a minute later Clark should have done better when he stooped to head Hodgson's cross wide.

Result: Darlington 0 Macclesfield Town 0

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