DARLINGTON’S stunned manager Alun Armstrong admitted he was shocked by his team’s first-half performance when they started the season with a defeat at Farsley Celtic.

It was 3-0 at half-time, Quakers going on to lose 3-1 at The Citadel which saw hundreds of Darlington fans show their support.

Armstrong was disappointed not give them a win to cheer.

Instead his new-look team, which had seven debutants in the starting XI, were guilty of poor defending.

The first goal came after a loose Louis Laing pass was intercepted, the second after Nathan Cartman was unmarked inside the penalty and the third following a long throw-in that was allowed to bounce inside Quakers’ penalty area.

“I was in absolute shock at half-time, I couldn’t believe it,” admitted Armstrong.

“I’ve never seen us defend like that in training or in any of the games.

“I thought we started the game quite brightly, the first ten men minutes was quite lively.

“Listen, we’re going to make mistakes because of the way we play. I said to the lads beforehand, pick your moments when to play. They didn’t and we got punished for it.

“It was a great strike to be fair, the first goal, but the biggest thing that hit me was that we went into our shell a little bit and that’s not good enough.

“We picked it up a little bit and the second goal comes and it was just really poor defending. I cannot defend the lads, they know their jobs and they did go into their shells. I was really shocked by that and really disappointed by them.

“The third goal was schoolboy stuff. Me and Daz were fuming and the lads know it.”

With the grass long and surface uneven, Farsley’s pitch was poor – Rotherham recently refused to play a friendly there and cancelled it an hour before kick-off – but Armstrong refused to use it as an excuse.

He added: “You can’t give anyone a three-goal head start, it doesn’t matter who you are, very rarely are you coming to come back and get a result.

“Fair play the lads, they did much better in the second half, but it’s easy when the pressure is off.

“There’ll be no excuses on Wednesday, we’re going to carry on doing exactly what we’ve been doing and make sure we make a much better fight of it.

“We probably got bullied a little bit in all honesty, and that was disappointing.

“After the pre-season we had we just never saw that coming, but it’s up to me to fix and the lads to make sure that they don’t do it again.

“They’re extremely disappointed because they know they let the fans down.”

Darlington are at home to Gateshead on Wednesday.