SO disappointed was Tommy Wright with Darlington’s first half display at Boston United that he says he would like to have made five substitutions.

His faith in certain players had gone unrewarded, he made three half-time subs and his was a team transformed in the second half, deservedly winning 2-0.

If only last summer’s transfer dealings had been as easy to rectify.

The team is 18th and will finish in the bottom half of the table after a season in which expectations will not be met, Wright’s budget was cut three times, attendances have dropped and some fans now want a change of manager.

The root of the problems remains last summer when seven players joined and not all have provided value for money.

One has left (Liam Hughes), two are out of favour (Jonny Maddison and Jonny Burn) and while the remaining four started on Saturday, three were hooked during the break: Tom Elliott, Alex Henshall and Jordan Nicholson.

Elliott and Nicholson have been two of the squad’s better performers this season, but Henshall’s impact has been minimal.

He impresses in training, says Wright, giving Luke Trotman a tough time, which is why he keeps getting in the team.

It is a perfectly reasonable explanation – there would be little incentive for a player if a manager was not going to recognise a willingness to impress during the week.

Yet Saturday was another of Henshall’s underwhelming outings. Withdrawn in the half-time cull, it left on the pitch only Simon Ainge of last summer’s seven, who is a much better defender than the forward he was signed to be.

“I told the lads if I could make five subs I would, it was that bad it really was,” said Wright.

“I take it to heart, especially the final third stuff, because we had worked on it Thursday. We ran drill after drill, but then we get to today and I didn’t see any of it.

“What I did see was bad body language and players arguing with each other. Changes needed to be made and I was really pleased the lads livened up and put in the second-half performance.

“I’m more frustrated than I am disappointed with the first half because I believe in these lads, they are good players. I get frustrated because I pin my hopes on them and I know we’ve prepared right.”

It had been an unorthodox starting XI, Stephen Thompson fulfilling the lone forward role, but it quickly became evident change was required with Boston having the better of the contest.

Wright reacted around 15 minutes in, switching from 4-3-3 to 4-2-1-3 and moving personnel around.

It worked. Quakers turned the tide and Nicholson found space to cause problems.

Wright’s faith in his starting XI had gone unfounded, but he deserves credit for making the alterations to good effect, though he remained eager to offer some forthright views and make substitutions at the break.

“I wanted to get into the changing room and explain why I was making the changes rather than drag them off in the first half, but I don’t think anyone would’ve batted an eyelid if I had done,” he said.

“I wanted to regroup and get across the instructions I wanted. It was important the lads knew what they were doing at set-plays rather than just throwing people on.

“We were lucky to go in at 0-0, Jake Turner made a great save.”

Turner had stopped a Jay Rollins shot from a tight angle, and Terry Galbraith cleared off the line from Jonathan Wafula at the end of the first half, but the difference between the two 45 minutes was stark.

Within 15 minutes of the restart Darlington led 2-0 and they were in command for the remainder of the game.

Darlington switched to 4-4-2, sub Wilson Kneeshaw on the left-wing, Thompson on the right and up front were the pace of Harvey Saunders and the hustle and bustle of Kit Elliott, who got the first goal on 58 minutes.

The move began with Omar Holness sending Thompson racing away before Luke Trotman and Romal Palmer got involved to give Elliott possession, and he steered home a composed finish from 12 yards.

“Kit would’ve been in with a chance of starting,” explained Wright. “But he played 90 minutes for Huddersfield on Wednesday so they didn’t want him to train with us on Thursday.

“If he is going to be in the starting line-up he needs to be training with us and not just turning up on a Saturday.”

It was the teenager’s maiden goal and two minutes later left-back Ben Jackson, also on loan from Huddersfield Town, scored his first too.

After a Palmer pass Jackson dribbled into space and let fly with a goal of the season contender from 30 yards, giving goalkeeper George Willis no chance.

Boston recently recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with York, but such a prospect was never on the cards here, Darlington were in control as they completed a league double over the Pilgrims.

“We looked rejuvenated end energised in that second half, lads knew we could go on and win the game,” added Wright.

“Once we got that second goal it was professional, the lads didn’t gamble in the wrong areas and saw the game out well.”