JOSH GOWLING was encouraged by his Darlington side's performance even though they were knocked out of the FA Trophy as they lost 2-0 to Scunthorpe at Glanford Park.

The signs were quite ominous again when the full-time home side, who beat Quakers 4-0 in the league earlier in the season, scored after eight minutes, but unlike the 8-0 thrashing at Chorley on Tuesday, Quakers kept their composure.

Even though the home side scored a second, Quakers fought back well and gained some respectability as they improved in the closing stages.

“The big thing was that we got a reaction to Tuesday coming to a place like this,” said Gowling. “People questioned our commitment and what we’re about on Tuesday.

"Yes, we didn’t start this game as well as we wanted, but you couldn’t question the mentality, work-rate and endeavour that the lads put in.

“From the last 15 minutes of the first half, I thought we dominated and in the second half, we had the best chances. I was pleased with the performance.

"I thought we were brave in possession and passed the ball well. Scunthorpe were organised with their press, but I thought we passed the ball well through them at times. I thought we kept the ball well, created opportunities and for large periods of the game, we matched Scunthorpe.

“However, we need someone with a voice to organise, to tell players to pick their men up for their first goal. It cost us the second goal because from our attacking phase we left a man free out wide to set up their goal.

“I don’t like losing, but Saturday was about performance and getting something to build on and I feel that we got that.”

Despite making seven changes in the starting line-up from the Chorley game, Quakers went a goal down on eight minutes when Ross Barrows flicked the ball between two defenders for Connor Smith to control ten yards out and fire across goalkeeper Tommy Taylor into the bottom corner of the net.

Darlington fans feared another thumping at that point, especially when Scunthorpe scored their second on 24 minutes. Kallum Griffiths’ low cross from the right was held by Scunthorpe keeper Ross Fitzsimons, and he quickly released the ball in the space behind Griffiths for Smith to exploit, and he set up Jacob Butterfield to score with a left-foot shot from the edge of the box.

But Quakers showed more resilience, and nearly pulled a goal back when Griffiths volleyed Jonny Ngandu’s corner towards goal, and Andrew Nelson was just wide with an overhead kick.

Quakers had more of the ball when Will Hatfield came on for Jim Simms at the start of the second half, and he put an early effort over the top.

Scunthorpe didn’t really break Quakers down thanks to an effective offside trap, and for the closing stages Akwasi Asante came on for some much-needed match practice, as did Cameron Salkeld.

After Taylor saved a 25 yarder from Butterfield, Quakers nearly scored at least once in the closing stages.

Salkeld made a good run up the left, and his low cross was pushed away only as far as Ngandu, whose shot was cleared off the line.

Asante then showed his experience by setting up Ngandu to fire just wide, then Ngandu set up Salkeld who ran into the box and had a shot blocked.

Considering their league position, a Trophy run was never a realistic possibility for Quakers, and now they’ve got two big home league matches this week against Warrington on Tuesday evening and Rushall Olympic on Saturday afternoon.