DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong admits that he lost his temper with his players at the half-time break of their 2-2 draw at Croft Park.

Armstrong, who was manager of Blyth before he took the Darlington job, saw his team concede two sloppy goals in a below-par opening half before he gave the players a half-time rollicking, and that prompted a rousing second-half fightback that got the fans strongly behind them and saw Andrew Nelson score his first competitive goal in two years.

“I was so frustrated again, because we did loads of work in training on Tuesday and Thursday and we tried to build on the second half against Bradford PA,” said Armstrong. “But it doesn’t matter what tactics you do, it’s about desire and wanting to go and head the ball.

“It’s the first time since I came to Darlington that I’ve really lost it with the players at half-time. Players weren’t working for each other and not stopping crosses because they were that worried about what was going on behind them.

“Their little men scored goals – it was absolutely shocking defending. At 2-0, it looked as if we had given in – I went through the whole lot of them. I spoke before the game about going to war, but we were steamrollered in that first half.

“I had to change things at half-time for my own sanity. I got a response in the second half, we looked much more solid, and we could have won the game. There was only going to be one team who would win it.

“I was delighted for Nella when he scored the equaliser. We have to be patient with him because of his injury, and once we get him firing, we’ll be fine.”

Once again, Quakers gave themselves a mountain to climb by conceding twice.

After Will Hatfield had an early low shot saved, Blyth took the lead on nine minutes. Veteran Robbie Dale whipped a free-kick from the left into the Darlington penalty area, where JJ O’Donnell was first to glance the ball neatly past the helpless keeper Tommy Taylor with the rest of the defence static.

After a period of Darlington pressure, Blyth scored a second goal which had some statuesque familiarity about it. Karl Byrne had time to cross from the right, Lewis MacNall was under no real pressure, and he firmly headed past Taylor.

With the game running away from them, Quakers needed a lifeline, and Charman provided it on 42 minutes with a great piece of skill.

He controlled a throw-in from George Smith, turned quickly past a defender, and fired left footed across Blyth keeper Alex Mitchell into the corner of the net.

That goal, Armstrong’s half-time blast and the substitution of defender Lexus Beeden for midfielder Jarrett Rivers changed the dynamic of the game.

Quakers nearly levelled on 53 minutes when Hatfield crossed for Charman to volley towards the bottom corner, but Mitchell produced a good left-handed save.

It became proper blood and thunder stuff, and after Purver was booked for a foul, he was subbed for Nelson.

The former Sunderland striker didn’t waste any time in getting involved. He headed a Hatfield corner against the bar, and then when the ball dropped, reacted first to triumphantly side-foot into the net to secure a welcome point.