PAINFUL to watch and instantly regrettable. Darlington’s defending was as bad as the clips of them singing that spread across social media the night before the game.

Friday night in Norfolk saw Quakers’ newest signings undergo a team bonding session by way of an initiation ceremony that worked a treat for morale, but it was followed by Saturday afternoon’s dispiriting showing at King’s Lynn Town.

Quakers had held their own for the most part against in-form opposition, there was little between the teams, until two aberrations early in the second half led to two goals that inflicted defeat.

Another one. That’s four in eight games, with defensive errors now part and parcel of Darlington matches.

Such have been his regular laments about slack defending, Alun Armstrong admitted he has begun to sound like a broken record, and he was not referring to any of the tracks murdered by his players on Friday.

“If you look at the goals it’s basic errors, I keep going over it,” said an angry Armstrong.

"The lads are shouting and arguing in there.

“At the end of the day King’s Lynn didn’t have to do anything to score those goals.

“We never get opportunities like that, we’ve got to manipulate the ball, switch it to try and get them openings, but you can’t give goals away like that.

“I sound like a broken record, it’s ridiculous.”

That a frank exchange of opinion took place in Darlington’s changing room at least demonstrates the players’ emotional investment – they’re not going through the motions, they know they can do better.

Armstrong added: “You need that. It’s no good just sitting in there just moping and accepting it.

“I want them to have a go at each other, I want them to tell each other that they’ve done something wrong, that’s what they should be doing.

“And they’ve got to take it in the right way to make themselves a better player.

“I don’t mind, it shows that they care. They hate losing, they really do, but they’re feeling sorry for themselves and it’s my job to pick them up for Wednesday.”

Wednesday sees bottom-of-the-table Blyth Spartans visit Blackwell Meadows when anything other than a home win would be a poor result, which is the last thing Armstrong needs bearing in mind his team lost at home to second-bottom Bradford PA last week.

As disappointing as results have been, with Quakers now 18th, some patience and understanding with what is a new team is required.

Error-prone but also injury-hit, three of Saturday’s back four were stand-ins.

Terry Galbraith missed out due to a hamstring issue that will probably keep him out of Wednesday too, Michael Liddle is in the same position while Luke Trotman is out for the season.

Current centre-backs Josh Heaton and Laing both came close to scoring with headers at first-half corners, while Will Hatfield saw a volley saved.

“First half, I didn’t think there was much in it,” said Armstrong. “They’re a good side, they rotate their midfielders really well, Michael Gash up front is a handful, but I don’t remember them having that much of a chance in the first half.

“Chris didn’t have a save to make, but the keeper made a save from Laingy’s header and they cleared another one off the line.

“That’s what makes it frustrating, it was probably a good away performance, we looked solid, but then we switched off and got punished.

“We looked comfortable in the first half at the back. In midfield King’s Lynn had a little bit of joy, but we sorted that out, but you cannot make mistakes like that – when we do benefit from other teams making mistakes like that?”

The first goal came after goal kick on 51 minutes, King’s Lynn knocking the ball on and Heaton made the wrong decision in not challenging for the ball and in nipped Chris Henderson to score past Elliott.

Henderson added the second soon after, this time after Heaton was caught the wrong side of his man, the Linnets midfielder bursting though and executing a calm finish for 2-0.

King's Lynn are now unbeaten at home in the league for 12 months, but Armstrong said: “First one, Josh has just got to put his foot through it, I don’t know why he’s waiting for Chris Elliott, Chris didn’t say anything. The second one, he’s stood square and let the runner go.”

Darlington’s heads dropped, they lacked the creativity and confidence to find a way back, though it might have been different had Campbell been awarded a penalty at 1-0.

He was booked for simulation, but protested his innocence vehemently during and after the game.

Thoughts now turn to Wednesday, a fixture with a team that have drawn one and lost six of their seven games, and as well as the squad’s various injury concerns Osagi Bascome and Justin Donawa are now on international duty.

“We’re down to the bare bones unless I can get a couple in,” added Armstrong. “We know we need a fullback and a target man. It’s still a work in progress.

“We deserved to come away with a point if it wasn’t for those mistakes. You could see their heads go down a little bit, they lost their momentum.”