It was an unhappy return to the Scarborough Athletic and the Flamingo Land Stadium for Matlock Town boss Steve Kittrick as his side lost 2-1.
Kittrick watched his side completely outplayed in the first half before an improved display in the second period at least offered hope of returning home with some reward.
But on the balance of the play Kittrick’s former club deserved the points. Matlock were hit further when top scorer Marcus Marshall was red carded after apparently making an abusive gesture to the crowd, who were taunting him as he was about to be booked for a foul on Kieran Glynn.
His 65th minute dismissal certainly stalled the Gladiators’ recovery but the damage had long been done.
Scarborough were two goals ahead by the interval through Josh Barrett and James Walshaw. It could have been more as Matlock were constantly stretched, their opening half performance being a massive extreme to their showing at Basford in midweek. Having been near to perfect then, on Saturday they could not have played much worse in the first 45 minutes.
Nathan Valentine, signed on loan from Stalybridge Celtic on Friday and another former Scarboroughian, reduced the deficit seven minutes into the second half, the Gladiators having made a double substitution at the break.
Dwayne Wiley was back in the side after injury, partnering Adam Yates in the centre, with Tomas Poole again occupying a right back berth and Spencer Harris featuring alongside Valentine in midfield. Chib Chilaka started in attack in what looked to be a strong Matlock line-up, midweek hat-trick hero Jordan Sinnott being ruled out through injury. Two more former Seadogs, Luke Dean and Bailey Gooda, were on the bench.
A lively Scarborough tore into Matlock from the start. Jon Stewart prevented the opening goal with a fine fifth minute save from a Walshaw strike after the veteran striker had sneaked in behind the Matlock defence. Stewart then did equally well to keep out Ryan Watson’s free kick only ninety seconds later.
Matlock needed some respite from the pressure, Chilaka battling gamely to rob former Gladiator Harry Coates on the right to force a corner which came to nothing.
Matlock had another escape when Walshaw nodded a cross from Isaac Assenso wide when he should have found the target but Scarborough claimed the lead they deserved on 18 minutes as wing back Josh Barrett had surged forward to glance in a wonderful cross from the right by skipper Michael Coulson.
Wayne Brooksby rose to plant a header narrowly wide as Scarborough’s domination continued, and the visitors were grateful for a 28th minute offside flag when Stewart upended Coulson as the striker danced around him. Referee Mathew Wright initially pointed to the spot before changing his mind.
But the Gladiators luck ran out just after the half hour when they lost possession on the half way line, the Borough again breaking at pace down the left through Coulson and Walshaw easily finished off his captain’s inviting low cross.
Matlock had scarcely managed a worthwhile attack during the opening half, one promising situation ending with Sam Scrivens crossing poorly for a redundant home custodian Tommy Taylor to collect unchallenged.
Stewart was called upon again to block from Coulson with Matlock needing a massive improvement in the second half.
James Tague and Luke Dean replaced Poole and Jack Rea, Matlock reorganising with Yates going to full back and Harris into central defence.
There was an immediate impact with Matlock at least now showing more serious attacking intentions.
Valentine marked his debut with a bullet like header from a Wiley cross from their first on target attempt.
A frustrated Marshall drove wide before probably Matlock’s best attack so far ended with a Tague shot drifting harmlessly wide.
Wiley gave away a needless free kick to earn an equally needless booking to join Walshaw in the referee’s notebook, Ben Gordon joining them later in the contest..
Chilaka was a whisker away from converting Gordon’s low ball in from the left before Marshall’s sending off.
A Harris shot forced the first of two quick corners but the last one was poorly delivered and Matlock were nearly punished on the counter, Scarborough winning a corner of their own which the Gladiators survived.
Walshaw missed from close range after fine approach play by Glynn and Coulson, the latter then firing into the side netting after a lung busting break.
The game ended with Scarborough in control, Stewart again being in the way to save a well struck Watson free kick before the hosts sensibly played corner flag football in the dying minutes.
It all resulted in a fourth successive league defeat for the Gladiators and 19th spot in the league. Once again good cup form has proved to be a false dawn when league business has resumed.
SCARBOROUGH ATHLETIC: 1 Tommy Taylor 2 Josh Barrett 3 Wayne Brooksby 4 Isaac Assenso 5 Harry Coates 6 Harry Spratt 7 Kieron Glynn 8 Peter Davison (16 Jack Johnson 87) 9 James Walshaw 10 Michael Coulson 11 Ryan Watson. Other subs: 12 Jake Gratton 14 Ryan Blott 15 Max Wright 17 Tom Morgan.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Tomas Poole (16 James Tague 46) 3 Ben Gordon 4 Jack Rea (14 Luke Dean 46) 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Nathan Valentine 8 Spencer Harris 9 Chib Chilaka (12 Luke Hinsley 72) 10 Sam Scrivens 11 Marcus Marshall. Other subs: 15 Bailey Gooda 17 Piteu Crouz.
REFEREE: Mathew Wright (Driffield).
BEST GLADIATOR: Jon Stewart.