Final Score: Ramsbottom United 3 Darlington 0
Furious Darlington manager Martin Gray tore into his players after Quakers sank to a humiliating and thoroughly deserved defeat at lowly Ramsbottom United for whom Jon Robinson scored a hat-trick.
Quakers were caught cold with two early goals that they never looked like recovering from against a team that were second-bottom at the start of play.
There wasn’t enough urgency in Darlington’s play, their passing was sloppy while defensively they were woeful, however, Ramsbottom deserve credit.
They were organised defensively, worked extremely hard for each other and attacked Quakers’ weaknesses which was down the flanks.
Gray was livid after the match, blasting the players in the changing room.
“I’m very very disappointed and I’ve let the players know exactly how I feel,” said the manager, whose team have now conceded nine goals in their past three away games.
“I won’t accept it, I won’t accept defending like that, that’s not my team.
“You’ve got to die for the cause and put your neck on the block. You’ve got to do the basics right, do the horrible side of the game and get back to the mentality we had last season of keeping clean sheets.
“They had two attacks and scored two goals. Both of our full-backs didn’t stop the ball from going into our box.
“It wasn’t good enough and I’m absolutely furious with the character tonight, the mentality and not doing the horrible side of the game.”
Holes appeared at the back from kick-off and it did not take long for the Lancashire club to score, Robinson side-footing home from close-range when he ghosted in unchecked to meet Philip Dean’s low delivery from Quakers’ right-back area.
The fourth minute goal made it a miserable start for Darlington, but they could have fallen behind even earlier as Dean had lifted over an effort when meeting another cross from Darlington’s right.
Ramsbottom were enjoying attacking down that particular flank where Chris Hunter did not look comfortable, though the second goal came from the opposite flank.
With Leon Scott dropped, Terry Galbraith switched to left-back and he was unable to stop Dominic Smalley’s cross which was headed home at the front post by Robinson.
It was weak defending typical of Darlington’s first half when Ramsbottom could have scored more.
Watching his new team-mates falling 2-0 behind after only 13 minutes to a side second-bottom of the table, new signing Nathan Fisher would have been forgiven for having second thoughts.
After international clearance did not come through in time, he watched from the stands.
Darlington’s defensive woes were typified when Mark Bell rolled the ball to Jordan Robinson when the defender had his back turned.
They escaped that scary moment, and they eventually forced chances of their own as they gradually improved.
David Dowson, back in the team at the expense of Andy Johnson, put a shot wide when one-on-one while Alan White headed straight at the keeper from a corner and Galbraith long-range effort pawed away by keeper Grant Shenton.
The keeper then had to make two top saves. Amar Purewal was denied when one-on-one, though the Darlington player should have made more of the chance, and then the Shenton kept out Stephen Thompson’s follow-up after a magnificently struck Curtis Edwards volley was blocked on the line.
“We created a lot of chances in the first half, so that’s two games in a row we’ve done that and not scored.
“I’m not going to be too hard on my forwards because they usually score goals, but we’ve defended very poorly tonight as a team and we’ve got to be more ruthless in the final third,.
“We had chances to score goals at crucial times in the game. Amar and Dowson both had only the keeper to beat.”
It would have been 3-0, however, had Bell not saved at close-range from Gaskell, who looked to be in an offside position, while early in the second period White stopped the same Ramsbottom forward from scoring when he rounded Bell, only for Darlington’s captain to stop the ball from rolling in.
Hunter’s frustration with Dean became clear when the right-back clattered into the winger and earned a deserved booking.
Earlier this month Quakers managed to win 3-2 having been 2-0 behind at the break.
The key to Quakers’ comeback that day was scoring an early goal in the second half, something Edwards had chance of doing last night but somehow missed an empty net when he met Chris Moore’s low cross.
And within a minute it was game over when Robinson wriggled away from Galbraith in the penalty area and smashed the ball beyond Bell.
There was half an hour to play and Gray sent on Bruno Pilatos and Paul Robinson, but neither provided a spark while Andy Johnson, a half-time sub, was only on the periphery of the action.
Ramsbottom remained competitive, diligently maintaining their shape and while Quakers made a go of it with Paul Robinson seeing a shot deflected that Shenton just got a hand to, a comeback was never on the cards.