THREE wins in a row had given Darlington supporters a glimmer of hope, reason to be cheerful at the end of what’s been a deeply disappointing season, but there were more jeers than cheers yesterday.

Quakers completed their away game programme with a lacklustre defeat at Guiseley, who were energised by their fight to avoid the drop.

A first-half goal was enough to see them stay up and inflict a 16th defeat on Tommy Wright’s team, one more than last season, and bring to an end Quakers’ mini run of wins.

A fourth win would only have succeeded in adding more gloss to the campaign, and papering over the cracks achieves nothing when it is clear Darlington, a team 16th in the table, need change if they are to improve in 2019-20.

Nonetheless, clearly the 444 Darlington supporters who travelled to West Yorkshire yesterday wanted a win, or at least an encouraging performance.

They got neither. Darlington were poor in the first half, improved in the second 45 but were ultimately second best to a team that had won one of their previous 19 games.

“The lads didn’t nail the game-plan at all,” said Wright. “Guiseley clearly had more to fight for than us, but we had told the lads how they were going to play and we played right into it.

“We got sucked into the lack of tempo that Guiseley wanted, giving away cheap free-kicks, and we gift-wrapped them the three points.

“We had chances in the second half, but we’re clutching at straws to say we deserved something.

“We didn’t set any kind of tempo and we were outfought for everything all day.”

Goalkeeper Jake Turner was to thank for Darlington avoiding a dreadful start, saving Kingsley James' fourth-minute penalty, awarded after Simon Ainge was adjudged to have impeded Kaine Felix.

It was Felix, however, who gave Guiseley the lead on 17 minutes, a simple goal scored after what should have been a harmless ball over the top, but it was enough to undo Darlington.

Terry Galbraith was beaten to the ball by Felix and the pacey forward, who hit the post when the teams met in a 0-0 draw earlier this season, kept his cool to beat Turner.

It was almost 2-0 when Felix caused problems down Darlington’s left, cut inside and got a shot in that was not far wide.

Not giving the opposition goalkeeper any cause for concern made for a poor first 45 minutes from Darlington.

The only time Marcus Dewhurst was called into action before the break was when his clearance was charged down by Harvey Saunders, recalled due to Wilson Kneeshaw’s injury.

Guiseley goalkeeper Dewhurst is the son of Rob Dewhurst, a defender who older Quakers supporters may remember playing for Darlington in the 1991-92 season when the club were relegated.

Fast forward 27 years and it was Guiseley potentially facing the drop, but they showed a determination to claim the points that Quakers could not match.

Only one team looked like they wanted to win, and it took 41 minutes for Darlington to have an effort at goal, Saunders heading over after a right-wing cross by Jordan Nicholson.

A fortnight after a good second-half showing saw Darlington secure a win at Boston United, they needed something similar at Nethermoor Park and there were signs of a Quakers resurrection in this Easter Monday fixture, but ultimately Darlington fell short.

Stephen Thompson tried an optimistic effort from 35 yards or so. It would have been a remarkable way to mark his 300th appearance for the club, lofting the ball high over Dewhurst, but it went over the crossbar too.

Guiseley’s Will Hatfield drove the ball into the outside of the side-netting after a move that began inside the hosts’ half when Cliff Moyo outmuscled Nicholson, a moment typical of the day: the Lions showing more brawn, more desire.

Thompson slipped when he got a shot in after receiving a pass from overlapping left-back Ben Jackson, and Omar Holness shanked an attempted cross into the car park behind the goal.

Unlike at Boston when he made a triple substitution at the break, this time Wright waited until the 70th minute before making any changes, withdrawing Tom Elliott, Nicholson and Saunders, who seconds earlier had a shot saved by Dewhurst.

In their place came Osagi Bascome, Joe Wheatley and Alex Henshall, and it was the latter who wasted Darlington’s best chance after what had been an excellent move that started in the right-back area.

Luke Trotman exchanged passes with Bascome and charged forward, playing another one-two as he went before the ball found Henshall deep inside the penalty box, but he scuffed it wide of Guiseley’s goal.

It was a big chance wasted by a player who has been unable to justify the seemingly endless faith Wright has had him in this season.

Quakers did not come close to scoring again, suffering a defeat that Guiseley greeted by celebrating fulsomely knowing it ensured survival in this division, though results elsewhere meant they would have survived regardless.