DARLINGTON manager Steve Watson says his team lost too many individual duels after slipping back towards the relegation zone with a 3-2 defeat at rivals Rushall.

This was probably one of the worst performances since Watson took charge, with so many mistakes and so much carelessness throughout the side, which now means that Quakers are just two points above the relegation zone having played a game more.

Quakers still need at least two wins from their remaining five matches, but there might still be some salvation off the field – Rushall need to build a covered stand behind one of their goals by the end of March and work has barely started.

“It was a very open first half, but we were far too deep as a team,” he said.

“We weren’t against people enough and we lost too many individual duels. With the space and opportunities we had in the first half, we should have killed the game off.

“One of our big strengths recently has been defending our box and blocking shots, and that wasn’t there.

“You’re going to have offdays, but we can’t afford them. We weren’t anywhere near where we have been this season – we were a bit slow and a bit laboured. We’ll have a look at why, and get ready for the next game.”

Quakers started the game well and created some promising openings. They took the lead on 13 minutes when Toby Lees picked out Jarrett Rivers with a good crossfield pass, and Rivers played Cedric Main through, and he coolly beat Jacob Weaver for his third goal of the season.

They could have scored more in the opening twenty minutes, with Cameron Salkeld playing a good 1-2 with Will Hatfield, but his shot was blocked, while Hatfield and Matty Cornish also had shots stopped by the Olympic defence.

But after Owen Osenia headed into Tommy Taylor’s hands and then set up Sam McLintock to have a shot pushed over the bar by the keeper, the home side equalised.

Quakers didn’t clear a right wing corner, and Alex Fletcher set up Walsall loanee Ronan Maher to fire across Taylor into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Quakers sat too deep after that, which encouraged the home side. Oseni burst through the middle, rounded Taylor, but then sidefooted into the side netting, before they took the lead.

Maher was allowed too much space on the left to control a crossfield pass, run into the area, switch to his right foot and then curl the ball past a helpless Taylor.

Quakers though hit back on 45 minutes when Cornish played a right wing corner into the near post for Tom Platt to have a shot blocked by Weaver, and the ball lopped up into the air for Main to nod home his second.

However, Quakers let themselves down again in stoppage time when once again a setpiece wasn’t cleared, and Owen Farmer struck a low shot that beat Taylor.

Rushall looked more likely to score in the second half. Taylor pushed a low shot by Farmer around the post, then Oseni got into a great position again from the left but fired wide.

Oseni missed an even better chance to finish the game when he broke down the middle, shrugged off sub Jake Lawlor, but blazed his effort over the bar. Maher, who had caused problem all afternoon, then danced through the Darlington defence down the left, and he fired across the face of goal.

With debutant Aidan Rutledge up front, Quakers posed more of a threat for the last fifteen minutes. The sub headed wide from a Scott Barrow cross, and then seemed to be elbowed in the face as he was running through.

Kallum Griffiths popped up in the area, but his pullback for Hatfield was intercepted, and then he headed a Mitch Curry mishit shot into the keeper’s hands.

But Quakers knew it wasn’t their day when sub Mitch Curry found space in the box, but Weaver saved his effort at full stretch.