STEVE Watson is keen to strengthen his squad in a bid to boost Darlington's National League North survival hopes.

After a winning start for Watson at King's Lynn at the weekend, Quakers slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Southport on Tuesday night that leaves them seven points adrift of safety.

Next up for Darlington is the visit of league leaders Tamworth, who are on a six-game winning run but Watson will approach Saturday's match as he does any other.

"I'm really reluctant to say it's a free hit because we're Darlington Football Club and it shouldn't be a free hit against anyone," said the new boss.

"When you play top teams and you're not doing so well yourself, I suppose people will say that. But we'll be looking to get the three points and we'll see if we can do anything this week regarding recruitment."

After Tuesday's defeat, Watson is relishing the opportunity to get to work with the players again on Thursday night in training. Time on the training ground has been limited since Watson's appointment but he's quickly identified the areas that need to take priority when the squad meet at Eastbourne Sports Complex.

When Watson hasn't been working with Darlington's players, he's studied footage of his side and upcoming opponents - as well as trying to make full use of his contacts book in a bid to strengthen his squad with fresh faces.

"Me, Terry (Mitchell, assistant manager) and Alex (Jenkins, performance analyst) have done a load of work identifying players and looking at opposition but time spent with the players has been really short," said Watson.

"I'm looking forward to getting back in with them on Thursday and using that time as wisely as we can.

"They're a good group of lads to work with, they're honest, but you saw (on Tuesday night) when you needed that little bit of quality and calmness...I've met the lads four days really, that's all I've had with them.

"I'm looking forward to getting a good session in on Thursday. We have a game on Saturday against a team who are flying high. We have to accept they're going to be buoyant."

Watson felt Quakers let themselves down in the final third at Southport.

He said: "We created a lot of good opportunities rather than chances. We got into some good positions but it didn't quite drop for us, We didn't work the goalkeeper and you can't win a match if you don't work the keeper.

"I don't think there was much in the game. It dropped for them in the first half then obviously the second goal was an off the post ricochet and they reacted quicker.

"I don't think one team was better than the other but that's been the tale of the season so far. We haven't put chances away and we didn't really get up the pitch as much as wanted to.

"We need to be braver and get the ball through the midfield. We were patient, we went from side to side but no clear cut chances dropped.

"We have to create more clear cut chances, be a bit braver on the ball and we have to get a lot more sharper in and around their box.

"We had to defend too much (at Southport). If we're not holding up the ball or playing in their half then we're going to be defending for a long spell, that's what we have to work on for Saturday, the confidence to get up the pitch and create more."