Matlock Town’s opening home league game of the season ended with management, players and fans alike feeling frustrated as it finished 1-1 with Skelmersdale United.
The Gladiators never even reached the height of mediocrity in a scrappy first half which ended with them trailing to Daniel Burns’ strike in the 27th minute.
It was painfully obvious that joint bosses Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins had made their feelings known during the interval.
Matlock were back out for battle six minutes before their opponents and the officials and went on to almost exclusively dominate the second half.
Skelmersdale had to play the final 33 minutes with only ten men after midfielder Benito Lowe was sent off for kicking out at Laurie Wilson.
Two minutes later Wilson had Matlock level but the hosts failed to make their extra man count with some wayward shooting and a lack of guile and patience and so had to settle for their second draw of the season.
Ted Cribley replaced Jamie Yates in the one change to the starting line up after the opening day stalemate at Corby, but Michael Williams, a midfielder who can also operate as a striker, was on the bench following his move from troubled Ilkeston earlier in the day. In a scrappy start there was little to enthuse the crowd with goalmouth action being at a premium. Matlock were enjoying most of the play but there was early frustration as they were caught offside three times in the opening 13 minutes and ten times in all during the opening half. The breakthrough came when Dwayne Wiley allowed a crossfield pass to sneak under his foot and Burns on the right had a clear path, keeping calm to slide a low angled effort past the exposed Arran Jameson.
Substitute Williams made Fearon work forcing him to dive smartly to his left to grasp a low strike but two minutes after Lowe’s dismissal, which also brought Wilson a booking, Matlock drew level from their first goal of the campaign.
After Cribley was upended on the left and Bodie booked for booting the ball away, Wilson curled a teasing free kick into the danger area, the ball beating everyone to find the far corner.
Now the stage was set for Matlock to complete the job, but again the offside flag played a prominent and sometimes dubious part in foiling the hosts.
So Matlock had to reflect on not only what might have been, but what should have been. Skelmersdale were there for the taking and the Gladiators had let them off the hook.
MATLOCK: Jameson, Marsden (Yates 78), Wiley, Wilson, Yates, de Girolamo, Cribley, Griffiyhs-Junior, Newsham, Green (Williams 46), McManus (King 78). Subs not used: Todd, Travis.
REFEREE: Aaron Bannister (Pontefract).
BEST GLADIATOR: Laurie Wilson.