Nicky Eaden offered few excuses after Kettering Town slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Darlington as he admitted the hosts “came out on top in all departments”.
The opening week of the Poppies’ return to the Vanarama National League North has turned into a baptism of fire.
The fine 2-1 home win over AFC Telford United is now a distant memory after it was followed by a 2-1 midweek defeat at King’s Lynn Town and now a decisive defeat in the north-east.
And Eaden believes his team have been “a bit naive” as they struggle to adjust to life at a higher level.
When asked whether the scoreline reflected the overall game, Eaden said: “I would say the score was a fair reflection.
“I wouldn’t say it was one of those games that could have been six or seven but Paul White has had to pull off some good saves again.
“I just felt like the chances they were creating were good ones and the ones we made weren’t as clear cut.
“In the last two games, we have come up against two good sides. But I think some of our players have been a bit naive at times.
“I said to them at King’s Lynn that we needed to be better on the ball. I’m not talking about turning us into Manchester City and passing the ball out from back to front.
“But there are times when a player receives the ball and is looking to put someone in as soon as they get it instead of retaining possession, showing a bit of patience and stringing some passes together.
“Most of the time, playing the simple pass is the way to go and we aren’t doing it.
“And on Tuesday I couldn’t fault them for their effort. They stuck at it and we stayed in the game until the very end. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say the same on this occasion.
“Darlington’s front four - their two wingers and two men up front - looked sharp and caused our back four problems.
“In fact, they were just better all over the pitch than us. On the day, they had more better players than us in each position and they came out on top in all departments.”
The Poppies will now try to snap their two-game losing run when they take on Chester at Latimer Park on Tuesday night.