Matlock Town were again left kicking themselves as a late goal once more proved costly in Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Barwell.
Three times in the last four games the Gladiators have conceded in the dying embers of games and a total of four extra points have been thrown away.
It left joint managers Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins, plus the 50-odd Matlock fans who travelled to Leicestershire utterly frustrated.
To make things worse, the first goal also could and should have been avoided, a gift for Matt Stenson on 37 minutes.
A Shaun Harrad penalty levelled matters 17 minutes into the second half, but more lazy defending allowed substitute Owen Story to force in a late 88th minute winner for a cynical and direct Barwell outfit.
The hosts played to their strengths and there was controversy on the stroke of half-time when a Barwell defender accidentally fell on top of Harrod, who said he was then punched in the throat, leaving him flat on the turf, choking, and gasping for air. The officials missed the incident but it left a nasty taste.
The visitors gave a debut to striker Tyrell Waite, signed on loan from Boston United, and the initial signs from Waite and Matlock as a more potent attacking unit looked promising.
Waite was soon charging beyond the Barwell defence, rounding keeper Liam Castle only for his low cross to be cut out by home skipper Craig Stanley, who often acted as chief spokesman with referee Richard Cattell.
How Stanley escaped without a caution at the least is a mystery, but Barwell still only had three men booked in Nigel Julien, Stenson and Tom Bates, while Jake Green was the sole Matlock recipient of a yellow card for tripping Ryan Baldwin.
Waite went close on eight minutes, latching on to a cracking through pass from Adam Yates, but his low cross drive from the left narrowly whistled past the back post.
A speculative dipping effort from Bates was a touch too high before Luis Rose cut in from the left, but leaning back, he fired too high.
When Castle fumbled a Rhys Sharpe strike, he escaped with nobody picking up the pieces, this being quickly followed by Rose and Waite combining only for Rose to shoot tamely at Castle.
Barnes saved well from Bates before Stenson nodded wide after a corner had been played back into the danger zone.
Then Matlock handed the hosts a gift-wrapped lead, Sharpe’s faulty pass causing Dwayne Wiley to miskick and Stenson, with a clear run at goal, calmly slipped a low finish past Barnes.
The chances had begun to dry up for Matlock after the interval, despite them having their fair share of possession.
But when Waite showed pace was bundled over in the box by Liam Kay, Harrad’s explosive spot kick squared the contest.
Injuries to Nico Degirolamo and Sharpe saw Jayden Cotterill and Niall Flint introduced and Barwell increased the tempo.
Matlock looked to be defending with authority and appeared to have weathered the storm, but they fell asleep late on as Stenson was given too much space on the right to cross to the far post where Story had been left free to touch the ball home.
It was deja-vu as far as Matlock were concerned and yet again they had been severely punished for their errors.
BARWELL: Castle, Percival, Nisevic, Stanley, Kay, Julien, Baldwin (Whitmore 46), Heath, Stenson, Seal (Barlone 81), Bates (Story 68). Subs not used: Robbins, Gilchrist.
MATLOCK TOWN: Barnes, Degirolamo (Cotterill 68), Green, Doyle-Charles, Yates, Wiley, Rose, Sharpe (Flint 77), Harrad, Waite, Cribley. Subs not used: Blake, Wood.
REFEREE: Richard Cattell of Burntwood, Staffs.
MATLOCK MAN OF THE MATCH: Joe Doyle-Charles.