DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong witnessed his side surrender a two goal lead to lose 4-2 at Gateshead and he put that down to David Wheater’s injury in the second half and ‘schoolboy’ errors in defence.

Four goals in the last 30 minutes ensured the Heed kept their place at the top of the National League North table but now leaves the Quakers with a mountain to climb in their remaining four games of the season if they want to climb into the play-offs. The first of those comes against second placed Brackley this weekend.

The away side surged into their early lead through Nathan Lowe’s stunning free-kick and Jack Lambert’s penalty but as the game wore on, they were hit by consistent attacks from Mike Williamson’s side.

“The first hour we were really comfortable and I thought we were deservedly leading the game.” Armstrong told the Northern Echo.

“We nullified Gateshead, a really good side who like to play their football and we got them frustrated. There wasn’t any issues and then the big man (David Wheater) gets a little tweak in his groin so he comes off.

“We replace him but then it unfortunately falls to pieces. It’s not nice when it happens. You can see it and people are still doing schoolboys errors unfortunately which cost you the game.”

Gateshead have earned themselves a reputation for playing attacking football which has seen them net over 100 times in the league this season. But they found more joy away from their usual slick style of play and found their way through more conventional routes to the disappointment of the Quakers boss.

“The first one (goal) was some good clever play but we get caught on the wrong side. The last three, all three, were abysmal. You’d have a go at your kids in school football for defending like that. It was just watching balls over the top, a headed clearance and kicked clearance.

“Being underneath the ball as a centre half is just unbelievable. So really bad defensively when you look at them three goals but for an hour we were so comfortable. Never saw that coming at all. It just shows you how big Wheats is for us.

“He organises everything and puts himself in proper positions. I say to some of the lads that are learning, you have got to look at that. He’s so calm and his positional sense is unbelievable. You could see in the first half that he didn’t take any privileges and he was clearing the ball in defence. Defend first and that’s what we never did in that last half an hour.”