DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong has had a frustrating week attempting to strengthen his squad for tomorrow’s home game with Chester.

He was furious with his team’s display in the 3-0 defeat at Leamington on Tuesday and said that he was “massively hurt” after the setback, which left Quakers 16th in the table.

Defensive errors cost goals, but Quakers’ need for a bustling centre forward was also obvious.

He had hoped to bring in a teenage striker from a Championship club in time for today’s game, but even though the player concerned travelled on the team bus to Leamington, the loan deal fell through.

Armstrong has hit a brick wall with other possibilities. It is understood he has gone as far as agreeing moves with a couple of targets, one of which was with him last season at Blyth Spartans, but Quakers being reluctant or unable to pay a small transfer fee to their respective clubs has proven decisive.

He said: “Everyone knows we need a big lad, but he needs to look after the ball as well, and not just be a lump up there.

“We need him to back in, hold the ball up – just like Tyrone O’Neill was doing – and in turn that frees up other forwards.

“I’ve never stopped looking, even on the way back from the game on Tuesday night I was contacting people. Unfortunately, finances dictate what we are, and I have to stick by that. It’s getting frustrating.

“I’m not going to splash the money because we’ve had this cup run, we’ve just got to be sensible with it. I would love to get one or two in just to help this squad.

“I’ve been onto four or five players this week to try and get them in. We had one, but unfortunately it fell through – someone in that number nine position, different to Campbell and Thompson, is so hard to find.”

Quakers have lost their last two league games against Telford and Leamington, conceding six goals in the process.

The manager added: “We seem to have come down to earth massively after the FA Cup run, unfortunately this does happen after such exposure and good performances, you end up coming down on a low.

“We had a good chat after the Leamington game. It was an even game until the first goal, there wasn’t much in the game, and it was very scrappy.

“But again, mistakes cost us goals – every time we make a mistake, we seem to concede for some reason and that shouldn’t be happening. I’ve told the lads that we must be better at that.

“The heads went down a little on Tuesday, and they can’t be doing that just because we’ve conceded a goal.

“We’ve got a quick fix on Saturday, but it will be a difficult game. We’ve got to stand up and be counted and find ways of getting results. We’ve got to keep digging in – I know what’s required and so do the players. The application will still be there from the lads, we’ll get that all day long.’’ Armstrong, with six wins from 18 games this season, admitted: “I was massively hurt on Tuesday, and so were all the players.

“The last time we went there we won 2-0, but Leamington are a decent side. They’re physical, direct, long throws, free kicks – but that’s 75 per cent of the teams in this league, and we’re probably one of the teams who are a little bit different.

“We are what we are, and that’s the way I want to play. Some of the football we’ve played is good at times, but we’re just missing that final bit – we know what it is.

“We need the fans on our side. The lads have been immense so far. Yes, the results haven’t been great in the last couple of weeks, but they’ve enjoyed the Cup run and given the fans something to shout about. The fans have still got to believe in these lads – they know we’re a couple of players short. We can’t just use that as an excuse, but we’ve just got to get on with it and use what we’ve got. “ Armstrong adds three players to the squad who missed the Leamington disappointment.

Goalkeeper Liam Connell, centre-half Louis Laing and left-back Michael Liddle all return, but there’s an injury doubt over skipper Terry Galbraith, while Jordan Watson missed training on Thursday because of sickness.

Chester come to Blackwell Meadows in third place in the table, having lost just once away from home this season.

Quakers have arranged their game at Guiseley for Tuesday, January 7. The original game was postponed in October because of a waterlogged pitch.