Corby Town’s debut in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division proved to be somewhat low-key as they shared a 0-0 draw with Matlock Town at Steel Park.
After wholesale changes to the squad during the summer, Tommy Wright’s new-look team produced a committed display to kick-off the new campaign, although they seemed to lack a cutting edge that would have ensured a winning start.
Perhaps that’s something that will come in time but a clean sheet would have been most welcome to the manager who saw his team of last season leak goals every single week.
It is, of course, very early days but there were enough encouraging signs from the Steelmen in what proved to be a scrappy affair at times.
Corby started brightly enough and, as they did for the majority of the contest, they saw plenty of the ball without ever really unlocking the solid Matlock defence.
Connor Kennedy’s shot, which came after some neat build-up play from Andre Johnson and Ball, was deflected just over the bar before Johnson was only able to head off target from a decent Liam Marshall delivery.
Johnson forced a decent block out of goalkeeper Arron Jameson, who recovered well after dropping a cross under pressure from Kennedy while, at the other end, Steelmen stopper Aidan Grant backpedaled well to tip Anthony Griffiths jnr’s cross over the bar.
There were chances at both ends early in the second half with Grant making a decent save from Dwayne Wiley’s header.
Once that had happened, the Steelmen broke upfield and won a free-kick 20 yards from goal and Callum Ball was out of luck as his low effort clipped the outside of the post.
With the game scrappy and neither side really taking a grip, frustrations boiled over when Jameson reacted angrily to a challenge from Oneil Odofin.
That led to a mass brawl with four yellow cards being dished out, Jameson fortunate not receive a red for his retaliation.
Both sides showed signs of trying to snatch a winner late on but it was the Steelmen and Ball in particular who had the better chances to do so.
The frontman should have done better than to sky an effort high over the bar after good work from substitute Danny Draper and Ben Milnes.
But Ball did hit the target with five minutes to go, again after a nice bit of skill from Milnes to create the opening, and this time Jameson produced a decent save to deny him.
In fairness, on the balance of play, a draw was probably about right.
Clean sheets were few and far between for the Steelmen last season so to get one on the board early on will be pleasing for Wright and his players.
And this draw will look a lot more useful if Corby can follow it with a first win of the campaign at Halesowen Town on Tuesday night.
Steelmen: Grant; Kennedy, Anton, Gascoigne, Odofin (sub Draper, 79 mins), Marshall; Webb, Taylor, Milnes; Johnson (sub Revan, 79 mins), Ball. Subs not used: Aridegbe, Parkes, Crawford.
Matlock: Jameson; Marsden, A Yates, De Girolamo, Wiley; J Yates (sub Todd, 75 mins), Griffiths jnr (sub Travis, 58 mins), Wilson, McManus; Green (sub King, 80 mins), Newsham. Subs not used: Edgson, Pierrepont.
Referee: Matthew Smith.
Bookings: Jameson (retaliation), Odofin, Travis (both fouls), Ball, Marshall (unsporting behaviour).