DARREN Edmondson is refusing to panic in the wake of Barrow AFC’s poor start to the campaign.

The Bluebirds’ agonising 2-1 defeat at unbeaten Cheltenham Town means they have collected only four points from the maximum 15 available and leaves them hovering just above the National League relegation zone.

AFC went ahead through Aaron Downes’ 44th-minute own goal on Saturday, but a Kyle Storer header levelled matters on 72 minutes.

Barrow left Whaddon Road empty-handed after Rob Dickie’s header found the net with just two minutes of normal time remaining.

But with the Bluebirds losing key players to injury, illness and suspension – including important attacking duo Andy Cook and Dan Pilkington – their battling display deserved some reward.

The AFC boss criticised his side’s lack of killer instinct, plus their attacking play and decision-making in the final third.

But after just five games, is he reaching for the panic button?

Edmondson said: “No, not at all, we’ve got things to work on but in general play, we matched a Cheltenham side that is at full strength.

“We’ve got injuries, don’t forget, which hasn’t helped and which means you are having to chop and change formations, squad players and bringing people in who are just a little bit off fitness-wise as well. That makes it harder.

“But we got into some really good areas today and I’m gutted for the players and also the 100-plus fans that travelled, they were fantastic throughout the game.

“We’ve got to regroup again this week, make sure we work hard in training, learn from it and continue to improve.”

Despite being without key personnel, Edmondson refused to make excuses for his side’s third successive away defeat of 2015/16.

He added: “Our choices in the opposition’s penalty area, in and around that area, has not been good enough and that has cost us.

“For a whole 90 minutes, we matched a Cheltenham team, and in spells, I thought we were the better side at times.

“We broke away well in the second half but if you don’t get the second goal at places like this then you are going to come under pressure at some point and, in the last 15 minutes, they were very direct.

“They got it wide, they put it in our box and inevitably one comes and then they’re pushing at the end and then your game becomes frantic, a little bit distressed and players make poor decisions.

“We had chances to get the second. It’s just that final pass, that final cross, it wasn’t put in the right place.

“The movement, also, isn’t good enough to get in there.

“The players are very deflated to lose 2-1 when they didn’t deserve to lose this game.

“But football is football, and if you don’t take your chances then ultimately you might pay the cost and we have done again on the road.”

Edmondson will also review the Robins’ two headed goals as the manager questioned the quality of his side’s marking, with Dickie’s winner arriving from a corner.

Barrow are confronted with good opportunities to kick-start their campaign as they host bottom club Southport on Saturday before heading to second-from-bottom FC Halifax Town next Monday.

With AFC still hunting their first away win of the season, Edmondson said: “It’s a must now not to get beat over the weekend and get some pride back in there, and make sure we learn from this.

“I think that in all the games we’ve shown that in spells we’re as good as other people.

“But both penalty areas have been key for us in the three away games especially, and we haven’t been good enough.”

Edmondson is hopeful talismanic striker Cook will be declared fit to face Southport this weekend, while centre-back Danny Livesey is expected to be okay despite being forced to withdraw from the action during Saturday’s defeat due to his dead-leg injury.

Injured wing duo Dave Symington (hamstring) and Pilkington (groin) are doubts.

Winger Benjamin van den Broek has joined Barrow by penning a one-year deal. It is hoped he will receive international clearance ahead of Saturday’s game.