MAKING mistakes has been Darlington’s downfall in each of their two games so far, something that needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes a habit.

In the opening days of the campaign manager Alun Armstrong has seen his team show a vulnerability if they concede first, as has happened in both games so far and on each occasion it has been due to an individual lapse.

It was Louis Laing seven days ago at Farsley Celtic, and Luke Trotman on Wednesday against Gateshead, both responsible for stray passes that were intercepted and capitalised on by grateful opponents.

“Confidence seems to sap out of them,” said Armstrong ahead of Saturday's home game with Kettering Town.

“If it’s a wonder goal you’ve conceded them you accept it, the problem when it’s a mistake is that mentally as a team you start to think ‘here we go again’.

“All four goals we’ve conceded have been individual errors. Trots tried to play a pass inside, but he’s got to put his foot through it there and clear the decks.

“Yes, we don’t lump the ball forward, but the pass wasn’t there to play.

“It’s decision making. Trots was a little bit rusty, he hadn’t trained on Monday because of the travelling, but second half he got into the game much better and got over that blip.

“Mistakes are costing us. Gateshead never played through us, they had set-plays and that was it and a mistake cost us a goal.

“They defended ever so well, as you’d expect with Mike Williamson playing, they were nice and solid, and they won’t concede many goals.

“It was a much-improved second half performance from us. We need to be brave on the ball, not just in the tackle but brave on the ball.

“It would’ve been a travesty if we hadn’t taken a point, we thoroughly deserved it, but I had a go at them after the game because there was a 20-minute spell after conceding.

“It’s football, you’re going to concede goals, you’re going to make mistakes, it’s about how you react to it.

“We had a go at them at half-time, told them to put things right and they did, and they were much better in the second half.”

Before half-time, however, Stephen Thompson almost scored an eye-catching equaliser, his piledriver rebounding off the underside of the crossbar.

“It deserved to go in from Thommo,” said Armstrong. “It was a great bit of play, he’s rifled one and I thought it was going in, and then it bobbles around in front of Tyrone O’Neill and he couldn’t get his feet sorted. He did brilliantly when he came on.”

O’Neill, on loan from Middlesbrough, played his way into contention for a starting spot against Kettering after making an impact as a substitute on Wednesday when replacing Jamie Holmes, who is a doubt today with a knee injury.

With a game to play on Monday at Curzon Ashton, Armstrong can be sure to utilise his squad and knows he must make at least one change as Trotman will miss the remainder of the season with an Achilles injured sustained on Wednesday.

As the right-back is out of contract next summer there is a chance he will not play for Quakers again.

Armstrong needs a Plan B with options including shifting Michael Liddle to right-back with Jordan Watson slotting in at left-back, or start Josh Heaton and switch to 3-5-2 which is how Quakers ended their midweek match.

Like Farsley and Gateshead, Kettering were also not in the National League North last season.

“Not a lot,” was Armstrong’s frank response when asked how much he knew about today’s visitors.

“The first three games are all against teams new to the division, Farsley and Kettering came up and Gateshead came down. It’s all new and it can be hard to find out about teams that far away.”

One encouraging note from Wednesday was the size of the attendance, an indication that Darlington supporters have been enthused by Armstrong and his pre-season signings.

It was 1,989, and even accounting for 301 Gateshead fans it represented a higher number than attended Quakers’ first home match of last season against Curzon.

It was also substantially more than the 1,145 that watched Darlington's final match of last season against Leamington.

Armstrong added: “The fans deserve more and hopefully they’ve seen enough from this team to see it’s going to be a decent season.

“The football has changed a lot, hopefully the fans have seen that and I can’t thank them enough for their support because they were outstanding – they never shut up in the Tin Shed.

“It was a shame we didn’t get the win, but hopefully they’ll continue to get behind these lads and keep believing in them because I do.

“I believe in what we’ve got in that dressing room, we’ll win more games than we’ll lose.”