8:00am Monday 16th April 2012
By Craig Stoddart
Neil Wainwright described the mood in the Darlington changing room as deflated after the team's 2-2 draw with Bath City confirmed Quakers' relegation.
Darlington went into Saturday's match at The Northern Echo Arena knowing that anything other than a win would seal a place in the bottom four of the division.
Craig Liddle's side were on course for a 2-0 victory, bringing to an end a 17-match winless run, but two late Bath goals extended that run to 18 games and condemned Quakers to the Conference North next season.
"Everyone was deflated in the dressing room and trying to come to terms with it themselves," said Wainwright, who was replaced midway through the second half because of an injury.
"I think I stood in the shower for 20 minutes. You don't know what to do with yourself.
"I came back to help out because Craig was in charge. It wasn't in my script for us to go down, but it's happened.
"I came back to Darlington to help prevent this happening, but it's not been the case.
"At 2-0 up in the last ten minutes we were saying on the bench 'this is it, this is the win'. But all of a sudden they scored two good goals and it's ended up 2-2."
Wainwright returned to the club at the beginning of last month, playing in nine of the 18-game run without a win.
He added: "I would say it's my worst low. The last three weeks have been bad with poor results coming one after another, the manner of some of them as well.
"We've deserved more out of some games but not got it through bad luck or mistakes, and then you go to Lincoln on Monday and everyone had a stinker.
"The pivotal game for me was Telford. We were 2-1 up at half-time and three points adrift, but by full-time we were eight points adrift. Then Newport won a game in hand so we were 11 points adrift.
"I know we were 11 points adrift before today, and had we won we would've been eight points adrift of Newport, who we play on Tuesday. So they could've started to get nervous.
"Don't get me wrong, we knew what sort of mammoth task it was and that it was improbable, but we were still going to try and do it."
Wainwright has been nursing a calf problem, as has Paul Arnison, and the 34-year-old winger says that playing through the pain barrier has been necessary to avoid relying too heavily on youth.
Three teenagers - Scott Harrison, Rob Ramshaw and Dale Hopson - have all suffered injuries that Liddle said are due to playing too frequently during their formative years.
Wainwright added: "A lot of the lads are playing with knocks, but we don't want to risk young kids playing.
"I've had to come off with my calf today, that's been ongoing for about four weeks, I know Drewe (Broughton) was struggling to be fit today with a groin and Arni was playing with a tear in his calf.
"Playing Saturday and then Monday last weekend was just too much for some of us. I couldn't move in the game at Lincoln and I know some of the other lads were the same.
"But you can't take the chance of putting these young boys in for something that they are not particularly ready for."
Marc Bridge-Wilkinson will have an operation on his hernia problem this week, which will rule him out of Quakers' three remaining matches.
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