It’s doubtful there will be many worse or less entertaining ties in this season’s FA Cup than the lack lustre 0-0 draw between Matlock Town and Whitley Bay at the Autoworld Arena on Saturday.
The score totally reflected the game in which defences dominated with both clubs showing little attacking invention.
It meant Matlock having an unwanted midweek long journey to the north east for a replay, having failed to stamp their authority over the Northern League outfit when they had home advantage.
There were few positives to take from the game for the Gladiators, apart from the welcome clean sheet after some distinctly below par defending in their previous two matches, plus they did not lose after having been reduced to ten men in the 52nd minute.
Nicky Travis came on as a half time substitute for Harry Coates and his afternoon was cut dramatically short when referee Liam Jones brandished a straight red card for an elbow on tall Bay schemer Philip Lumsden.
With a man advantage Bay would have been expected to have the territorial advantage at least, but because they showed a lack of ambition, Matlock’s one man shortage was barely noticed.
The first sniff of an opportunity came as Matlock broke from a 13th minute corner for the visitors for Micky Harcourt to combine with Joel Purkiss, but the move broke down jet as many others would frustratingly do later on.
It was an error ridden contest, many of them unforced and it was 29 minutes before either goalkeeper was tested as Andrew Jennison gathered an Oscar Radford header.
Harry Coates, back in the side, received a 31st minute booking for fouling Bay’s top scorer Adam Shanks. The striker had scored four in midweek against Bishop Auckland, he scarcely got a look in against Adam Yates who again was on top of his game and one of the few players on view to emerge with any credit.
Three minutes later Niall McManus, stuck in traffic en route to the ground, came off the bench to attempt to inject some life into the game but even he was not his usual bright spark as the match meandered along not even reaching mediocrity.
A promising attack on 43 minutes ended with Ted Cribley’s effort being blocked before a second Cribley shot was deflected wide for a fruitless corner.
McManus had a low drive saved by Jennison at the start of the second half, but soon came the red card followed by bookings later on for Shanks and Matlock’s Ben Algar and McManus.
A long range Lumsden strike sailed into the garage grounds at the Town End before his part in the tussle with Algar which saw the Matlock man booked also ended in a caution for him as well.
A 25 yarder from Purkiss was comfortably gathered by Jennison and then at the other end George Willis did likewise from a shot by Alex Kempster, this being Bay’s best and only chance in the 84th minute.
It was Matlock though who came closest immediately afterwards and noticeably it was from a set piece. They won a free kick centrally from twenty five yards range and Purkiss stepped up to beat the wall and crack his shot against the underside of the bar with Bay then gratefully clearing their lines.
That was the last act of a thoroughly forgettable tie.
MATLOCK TOWN: George Willis, Micky Harcourt, Oscar Radford, Liam Gaughan (Niall McManus 34 mins), Adam Yates, Harry Coates (Nicky Travis 46 mins), Ted Cribley, Liam Needham, Joel Purkiss, Danny Holland, Ben Algar.
Subs not used: Scott Maxfield, Mark Hume, Ryan Pugh.
WHITLEY BAY: Andrew Jennison, Stephen Gibson (Joshua Day 89 mins), Christopher McDonald, Richard Flynn, Michael Laws, Christopher Reid, Samuel Norris, Callum Anderson, Adam Shanks (Robbie Williamson 63 mins), Philip Lumsden, Alex Kempster.
Subs not used: Stephen Young, Aristotte Guerrin, Daniel Gladstone.
REFEREE: Liam Jones (Hucknall).
BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates.