You don’t need coaching badges or years of top-flight experience to work out what happens if players can’t even hit the target.
It took 85 minutes on Tuesday night for Spalding United to force goalkeeper George Willis into action.
However, Matlock Town’s number one wasn’t needed to show his shot-stopping skills in the penalty shoot-out after this bore draw.
Strikers Jamie Graham and Jake Newman both sent spot-kicks high over the bar as the Tulips were knocked out.
For the second successive season Spalding’s exit from the League Cup came against Derbyshire clubs on penalties, having lost at Ilkeston in the quarter-final last term.
There won’t be too many concerns about losing the tie with bigger priorities ahead to get into the play-off pack for promotion.
But there should be some worries about a failure to hit the target and create clear-cut chances – particularly as the Tulips played against 10 men for 40 minutes and couldn’t break the deadlock.
Matlock – in the bottom half of the Premier Division – looked more likely to score even with that disadvantage.
Michael Duggan was only required to make a couple of routine saves thanks to those in front of him providing some protection.
Skipper Nathan Stainfield was certainly the star of the show with a typically strong display up against Matlock player-manager Mark Hume.
Stainfield and left-back Adam Jackson led by example with support from Paul Walker and Neal Spafford to keep a clean sheet.
Central midfielders Sam Murphy and Dan Lawlor also impressed with their work-rate but that’s basic stuff.
There was energy and endeavour but not enough enterprise.
Despite trying to get the ball wide as the best outlet for goalscoring opportunities, Spalding struggled to open up the Gladiators’ defence.
They needed a spark and so often this season that has come from Josh Moreman.
This time, though, he was unable to find that moment of magic which would have surely changed the game.
The opening period was a real battle with no quality on the ball as possession kept being handed over again.
The second half was not that much better in terms of entertainment but at least Spalding seemed set to take some control when Matlock assistant-boss Scott Maxfield was dismissed on 50 minutes for foul and abusive language to referee Alistair Wilson.
Instead, the Tulips still couldn’t get going and they needed a last-ditch hook on the edge of the six-yard box from Stainfield to deny Hume.
Substitute Dan Banister’s shot was blocked but the only attempts on target from Spalding all came in the final five minutes.
Willis tipped over a 20-yard drive from Lawlor, Moreman’s low effort was easily held and Banister fired at the goalkeeper’s legs.
Thankfully after such a dull game, under competition rules there was no extra-time and penalties settled the tie.
Moreman got Spalding off to the perfect start but both Graham and Newman failed to hit the target.
Craig Nelthorpe missed a chance to win it and, after Stainfield levelled with the Tulips’ fifth spot-kick, Joel Purkiss beat Duggan to send Matlock through.
Spalding should not be too disappointed with the result having held a higher-level side over 90 minutes.
But the performance could have been much better and more creative.
Now the Tulips must focus on climbing the table with stability on and off the pitch.
4-4-2: Duggan 6; Walker 7, Spafford 7, Stainfield 8, Jackson 7; Griffiths 6 (sub Banister 49 mins, 7), Lawlor 7, Murphy 7, Thurlbourne 6 (sub Newman 63 mins, 6); Graham 6, Moreman 6. Subs not used: Sanders, Lockie.
4-4-2: Willis; Fallowfield, Coates, Yates, Nelthorpe; Gaughan (sub Travis 40 mins), Cribley, Wilson, Maxfield; McManus, Hume (sub Purkiss 70 mins). Subs not used: Algar, Holland, Harcourt.
Moreman (1-0); Wilson (1-1); Graham miss; Fallowfield (1-2); Walker (2-2); Cribley (2-3); Newman miss; Nelthorpe miss; Stainfield (3-3); Purkiss (3-4).
Maxfield (foul and abusive language).
Fallowfield, Graham (fouls); Spafford, Travis (dissent).
Nathan Stainfield – another excellent defensive display from the skipper who led by example and showed his class.
Leek Town (A) – First Division South, Saturday.