Game management and common sense went out of the window as Matlock somehow contrived to lose a game they were ahead in on 88 minutes and yet again concede three goals as hosts Halesowen Town won 3-2 on Saturday.
Matlock looked in control but again left joint managers Glenn Kirkwood and Craig Hopkins, plus their travelling fans, shaking their heads in disbelief as they fell apart in the dying embers of the game.
The day began badly with goalkeeper Phil Barnes out injured, Adam Yates missing through illness, Joe Doyle-Charles suspended and Lee Bennett unavailable.
It meant a league debut for Jordan Pierrepont in goal with Jan Yeomans, Ricky German and Curtis Morrison all starting.
The Gladiators could not have got off to a worse start falling behind in only the third minute. Brad-Lee Gascoigne should have headed clear for a throw but decided to nod back towards Pierrepont to concede a needless corner. The marking was poor as Spencer Weir-Daley headed in, Pierrepont getting a hand to the ball but being unable to it out.
Matlock looked for an immediate response with captain Shaun Harrad firing wide from a Ted Cribley assist but Harrad’s deft header from Jake Green’s cross in the ninth minute got them level.
Home goalkeeper Daniel Platt did well to keep out a 26th minute shot from Cribley while Morrison, probably Matlock’s best attacking player on the day attacking down the left, showed a glimpse of great skill to find room and see his shot cannon off a defender for a fruitless corner. Shortly before the interval Morrison headed a Michael Williams cross wide at the back post.
Attacking down The Grove slope after the interval, the visitors had penalty appeals rejected when Green and Harrad both had shots which were charged down, Matlock claiming a handball offence.
Weir-Daley slammed a 55th minute strike against the bar but two minutes later Matlock had a gilt edged chance to take the lead as Williams collected a faulty clearance from Platt to slide a low ball across the box, the ball bobbling as Harrad lifted the ball over a vacant net from close range.
But they did get the third goal of the game in the 62nd minute, Cribley cutting in from the right to see his low drive deflected past Platt.
Dwayne Wiley headed a corner from the left wide in the 77th minute, but all Matlock had to do now was maintain their momentum and also to take the sting out of the game to prevent an unlikely Halesowen comeback.
They failed on both counts. A goal out of nothing from a quick break on 88 minutes saw substitute Roland Agbor fire a low shot underneath Pierrepont.
Given Matlock’s defensive frailty at present, there was the worry that they could even lose and that worry became reality. The familiar failure to clear their lines again reared its ugly head as Ivor Lawton found space on the right and visiting supporters knew what the outcome would be. Lee Knight powered his header from Lawton’s cross past Pierrepont to give Halesowen three unlikely points to help in their fight against the drop. The final whistle shrilled seconds later.
Matlock: 1 Jordan Pierrepont 2 Jake Green 3 Jan Yeomans 4 Kieran Wallace 5 Brad-Lee Gascoigne 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Ted Cribley 8 Michael Williams 9 Shaun Harrad 10 Ricardo German 11 Curtis Morrison. Subs (not used) Jamie Jackson, Harry Limb, Chris Ondong-Mba
Ref: N Pratt (Staffordshire)
Best Gladiator: Curtis Morrison