TWO away games, two 3-1 defeats.

At Farsley Celtic on the opening day of the season, when Darlington played on grass that did not appear to have seen a lawnmower in weeks, there could be no complaints last night at Curzon Ashton who play on an immaculate playing surface.

Darlington’s downfall was their defending because, as at Farsley, errors littered their game.

All three Curzon goals should have been avoided and manager Alun Armstrong was frustrated with his team.

“For the first 20 minutes we played some good stuff, we were in the ascendancy, but some unknown reason we took our foot off the gas,” he said.

“I don’t know if it was tiredness or what, it wasn’t an instruction.

“It was the same old story for all the goals. The first one was a basic error at a free-kick, we didn’t attack the ball and the second was laughable.

“We’d just got ourselves into the game with a fantastic goal, and then gifted them a goal like that. It was laziness. We didn’t clear our lines quickly enough, we idled out.

“It was so annoying, it was a basic schoolboy error.

“The third one, there were too many people standing and watching. Josh didn’t get a clean header, but there were too many people not reacting. Lidds held his hands up, but I think there were others who didn’t react quickly enough.”

Armstrong made one change to the starting XI from the side that cantered to a 3-0 success against Kettering Town on Saturday, giving Josh Heaton a start as Terry Galbraith had a dead leg and Darlington started well, getting bodies forward and creating chances.

Curzon goalkeeper Cameron Mason reacted sharply to turn away a Tyrone O’Neill header after good work by Jarrett Rivers.

Middlesbrough loanee O’Neill then found space in the penalty area, ghosting between defenders to get his head on a Jordan Watson cross, but the effort was over.

With Galbraith dropping to the bench, Heaton marshalled a defence that was rarely troubled in the opening stages.

There was a long-range Robert Evans shot, but it sailed over the fence behind the goal joining the collection of balls that Darlington lost to the overgrowth behind the stand during the warm-up.

Darlington kept a good shape, restricting the home side to harmless sideways passes and little penetration.

A quick Darlington move started and finished with O’Neill, the youngster playing a ball out wide to Rivers who burst down the right and beat left-back Josh Askew before firing in a low cross that O’Neill fired over under pressure.

Curzon, unbeaten this season, finished the half stronger, however, eventually taking a grip as Quakers ceded ground.

Callum Saunders climbed above Louis Laing to meet a floated cross from the right, his header going wide.

The home side got the goal they had been threatening on 42 minutes, the first of three in a frantic finish to the half.

A free-kick on the right was floated in, Andrew Halls won the first header and it rebounded off the bar, striker Sean Miller reacting quickest by heading into the net.

But Darlington levelled in the 45th minute, O’Neill getting his first goal in Quakers colours.

Rivers played a ball into the penalty area, Will Hatfield knocked it on and O’Neill was on hand to force the ball home at the back stick.

Having responded to falling behind in the best possible manner, Darlington reacted to equalising by conceding again, sloppy defending to blame in first-half injury time.

Watson’s clearance went into opposition territory play and was seized on by Mason, the keeper quickly blasting the ball back into Darlington’s half where the defence had not cleared their lines, the ball bouncing over them and in nipped Miller to beat Chris Elliott.

It was a frustrating end to the half for Darlington who deserved to be level at the break but the game was taken away from just before the hour when Curzon made it 3-1 through Sinclair.

The wide man, son of former England international Trevor who was in the stands, smashed home after a weak Heaton header went straight to Curzon, and Sinclair rode a couple of challenges before scoring.

Darlington were all over the show at this stage. It had been a largely even first half, but there was a spell after the break when they were unable to clear from inside their own half, unable to get a foot on the ball with Curzon looking like adding a fourth goal.

Armstrong made a double sub, replacing Heaton and Rivers with Galbraith and Justin Donawa, but with one of his first touches Galbraith’s pass was intercepted and only a poor shot by Michael Elstone meant it stayed 3-1.

Elliott saved to keep the score down when Evans let fly from 20 yards, but Darlington did show some fight and Thompson should have pulled one back.

Played in by Campbell, he had only the goalkeeper to beat from seven or eight yards, a gift, but he blasted over.

You know it’s not your night when he’s missing chances like that.

Donawa’s pace got him into a shooting position on the right but the shot went out of the ground and with it went Quakers’ flagging hopes of rescuing a point.

Mo Ali did clear off the line an O’Neill shot in on added time, and that was as close to scoring as Quakers came in the second half.