The honeymoon is over, says Martin Gray.
Now is the time for his Darlington 1883 players to stand up and be counted and for supporters to remain patient.
The Quakers suffered a second successive home defeat courtesy of Northwich Victoria’s Brian Summerskill, whose side’s M6 traffic problems forced kick-off to be delayed by half an hour.
Thereafter, Amar Purewal and Chris Hunter volleyed over and, as the hosts increasingly dominated the second half, Nathan Fisher and Purewal went close, Stephen Thompson was denied by former Gateshead goalkeeper Tim Deasy and Curtis Edwards fired over.
They could not, however, find a way through but, while disappointed by back-to-back defeats at Heritage Park, Gray drew on the game’s positives and reflected on the progress the club have made in a short space of existence.
He said: “We can’t afford to give teams a lead, we were punished for our mistake.
“The first half was the worst we’ve played this season. In the second half, we changed our game plan and saw real positives.
“The lads are starting to understand the pressure which comes with playing for this club, but we have to remember we’ve only been around for 18 months.
“We’re through our honeymoon period and everybody has to be patient.
“There are going to be poor performances along the way. We have still achieved an awful lot.”