Quakers conceded three times in the second half as they slipped to a disappointing home defeat against Southport.
Quakers never really clicked into gear against a hard working away side, who caught Quakers on the break in the second half, and punished the home side for some sloppy defending.
Quakers started the game facing the setting sun on a bobbly pitch.
There was an early stoppage in play when Terry Galbraith went down suddenly without anyone near him, possibly with a twisted ankle, that needed treatment , but he was able to carry on.
Southport had a chance on 9 minutes when Ross Hannah found space on the edge of the Darlington area, but fired harmlessly wide.
Quakers had an opportunity when Stephen Thompson got round the back of the defence on the right and found Reece Styche, but the top scorer delayed his shot and was crowded out.
1-0 Quakers took the lead on 18 minutes, Joe Wheatley found Styche 25 yards out, Styche charged forward and laid the ball off to his left for Josh Gillies to curl first time with his right foot past the keeper from ten yards for his ninth of the season.
Gillies nearly got a second five minutes later. Styche was brought down by David Morgan a few yards outside the box in a central position, and Gillies curled the free kick over the wall, and just an inch or so over the bar.
Quakers had a let off when Phil Turnbull lost possession 30 yards out allowing David Lynch to run through, but Galbraith got back and blocked his shot.
Joe Wheatley, who seemed to be everywhere in midfield, then played a 1-2 with Styche and struck a low shot that Worsnop saved.
Quakers had another chance when Styche, near the corner flag, played the ball inside for O’Hanlon, who crossed low into the middle for David Syers to put a diving header wide.
33 mins, 1-1 But Southport levelled on 33 minutes when Josh Heaton was short with a backpass — an uncharacteristic mistake by him — allowing Hannah to knock the ball over the advancing Aynsley Pears and roll the ball into the net.
Quakers replied with a good run by O’Hanlon that saw his shot blocked.
But Southport should have taken the lead in stoppage time when Osborne mishit a shot towards goal, but it fell nicely for Gilchrist, who nodded the ball tamely into Pears’ hands from six yards.
Darlington 1 Southport 1
Quakers made a change at half time, Jack Vaulks coming on for Terry Galbraith, and then made a second change on 57 minutes, Tom Portas replacing Luke Trotman.
Quakers nearly took the lead on the hour, when an inswinging free kick prompted a scramble inside the six yard box, and the ball was deflected wide
1-2 But Quakers went 2-1 down on 63 minutes when the defence was caught by a headed ball over the top, and Dion Charles ran on and beat Pears with a low shot.
Quakers nearly levelled on 73 minutes. Thompson cleverly beat his man on the right, and his powerful low cross was cleared as far as Wheatley, who took a touch and then blasted a right foot shot against the post.
1-3 Quakers went 3-1 down on 78 minutes, when the ball came in from the left hand side, Quakers were unable to clear, and Charles came in and beat Pears with a left foot shot.
Quakers nearly pulled a goal back immediately, Worsnop making a point blank save from O’Hanlon off a cross from the right.
Joe Wheatley was subbed by Harvey Saunders on 81 minutes.
1-4 And it was 4-1 on 85 minutes when a right wing corner fell for Howson, who hooked the ball past Pears.
2-4 However, Quakers pulled a goal back immediately when Harvey Saunders fired home, his second goal of the season.
Darlington 2 Southport 4
Pears, Trotman (sub Portas 57), Heaton, Galbraith (sub Vaulks 46), O’Hanlon, Turnbull, Wheatley (sub Saunders 81), Thompson, Syers, Gillies, Styche
Subs: Bancroft, Glover,
Worsnop. Richards, Kelly, Morgan, Howson, Marx, Osborne, Lynch, Gilchrist (sub Smith 81), Hannah, Charles
Subs: Dawson, Priestley, Doyle, Halstead