IT must have felt all too familiar to Darlington legend Alan Walsh, who was a spectator on Saturday for the match against Gloucester City when his former club suffered another defeat.

It was their fifth in ten games, four of them coming in their five winless away fixtures.

With almost a quarter of the season already played Quakers are leaking goals and languishing in 17th, the same territory of the table Darlington usually occupied in the early 1980s, albeit in Division Four, when Walsh was banging the goals in.

He was sold to Bristol City in 1984 and still lives locally so popped along to Evesham, where Gloucester are based, but there was no danger of him seeing Stephen Thompson, on 97, match his 100-goal club record tally.

In a scrap between two average teams Darlington came off second best, beaten 2-1 by a team that had conceded 14 goals in their previous five games combined, injury-hit Quakers well short of their best as well as their first-choice XI.

After what has been an indifferent start to the season, Alun Armstrong will be relieved to have reached this stage though not with the sum total of Darlington’s efforts.

Seventeenth is the same position they held at this time last year, despite having one point more this time around, while Darlington are yet to keep a clean sheet away from Blackwell Meadows.

The schedule is now less demanding, however, with no midweek matches in the immediate future – potential FA Cup replays aside - and that can only be good news for a squad that needs a breather.

Ten games in the first 36 days would be demanding for a Premier League club and their almost infinite resources, it places unnecessary strain on part-time teams, particularly when injuries hit hard.

At some point all of the following have had, or continue to have, a fitness issue preventing them from playing: Luke Trotman, David Atkinson, Michael Liddle, Terry Galbraith, Joe Wheatley and Jamie Holmes, while Justin Donawa and Osagi Bascome have been on international duty.

Tyrone O’Neill became the latest to be hit by the jinx on Saturday, unable to play the second half after being whacked by goalkeeper Josh Bradley-Hurst and the young striker on loan from Middlesbrough was much missed.

“I’m over the moon there’s no midweek game,” admitted Armstrong, whose side are next in action on Saturday at home to York City. “It’s madness the amount of injuries we’ve picked up in the first month, it’s ridiculous and something needs to change.

“When we get an injury everyone seems to get deflated. You can see it. You cannot do that, you cannot feel sorry for yourself and say ‘there’s another one, not again’.

“It’s up to me to deal with that. I just do not know what we’ve got to do to go through a game without picking up an injury. There’s no pulls or strains, there’s been nothing that could be avoided.

“They’ve all been kicks or lads have been clattered. Tyrone got clattered twice today. It’s been injuries you cannot control and that’s frustrating.”

Armstrong is not using injuries as a sob story, yet the reality is that his team is way off what was planned in pre-season.

He said: “I cannot use that as an excuse. I’ve got what I’ve got.

“I’ve got to keep working with the lads, it’s up to me to prepare the team and I thought we had done that today.

“First 15-20 minutes I thought we were well on top, but the energy stopped, we took our foot off the gas and let them play which was getting balls into the front man and midfield runners beyond him and that cost us the first goal.”

That came on 23 minutes, midfielder Joe Hanks allowed to burst through midfield unchecked to meet a team-mates’ knock-down before firing past Chris Elliott.

For the fifth game in a row Quakers conceded first, but just like against Blyth last Wednesday they soon hit back with Adam Campbell the scorer again.

It was his fifth goal of the season, tapping in a loose ball after Bradley-Hurst spilled Thompson’s shot.

There looked likely to be more goals in a game that was 1-1 at the break with little between the teams, each having conceded their fair share this season, but without O’Neill Darlington lacked a threat aside from Jarrett Rivers’ penetrating runs which came to nothing.

Walsh hadn't brought his boots, so O’Neill was replaced by new signing Ben Hedley who went into midfield, leaving Campbell on his own up front and he had little service.

The Gloucester winner came with 20 minutes to go, Hanks’ second goal coming courtesy of a big deflection that wrong-footed Elliott after shooting from outside of the penalty area.

Armstrong sent on Brandon Morrison for his second senior appearance 364 days after his first, while fellow teenager Lucas Bell was introduced late on.

That Darlington were hoping for youngsters to rescue them a point says much for the options available.

“Brandon’s a big lad but it’s a big jump for these kids, to come on and play at this level,” said the manager.

“It’s not ideal bringing them on in a game like this, but we had to change it and was him or Josh Heaton going up front. He did alright, but has a lot to learn.

“Brandon challenged the keeper, the ball drops but there’s nobody in the area to put it into the empty net. When we’re at home we get people around the ball.”