MELLOR THIRDS 2 ALDERMERE FIRSTS 2
Whether the 23 degrees of heat and bright sunshine was to blame is hard to tell but the teams played out a tetchy and generally uninspiring game in which several players lost their cool.
Mellor Thirds lined up in a 4-5-1 but lone striker Ian Arnfield did not get the support he craved.
Steve Baguley suffered a migraine shortly before the game and possibly playing out of position at right back did not look his usual assured self.
Mo Roberts in midfield hunted the ball tigerishly but sometimes too aggressively and was pulled up for three fouls in the first 20 minutes.
And the hard, dry surface did not seem to suit Mellor's normally fluent passing game.
Aldermere were relegated from Division 2 at the end of season 2011-12, winning just two games.
But they had a pacy winger plus a useful target man up front and provided Mellor with a few problems with the simple long ball.
Mellor spurned a great chance on two minutes, Rick Axford finding himself in the clear but did not trouble the keeper.
Aldermere replied immediately, a long punt upfield catching Mellor's defence off guard but Scott Waters made an excellent first parrying save and then followed up to catch a tame shot on the rebound.
On three minutes Rick Axford cut in from the right and his pass eventually found Marcus McNulty on the left who shifted the ball onto his left foot and cracked a powerful shot across the keeper into the far right hand corner for 1-0.
Marcus McNulty scores after three minutes
On 14 minutes the visitors were level. Mellor's attack broke down, Aldermere countered and sent a long diagonal ball to their nippy right winger who got behind Andy Kuehl and ran on to score.
Mellor almost regained the lead in 60 seconds.
A free kick found Dan Davies all alone six yards out but his header lacked direction and flew harmlessly wide with the keeper floundering.
Dan Davies misses with a header
On 20 minutes a mistake by an Alderemer defender sent the ball to Marcus McNulty 20 yards out and he gleefully drove it back into the bottom right hand corner of the net for 2-1.
McNulty scores his second
On 29 minutes Rick Axford chased a pass into the Aldermere area and collided with the visitors' keeper as he tried to smother the ball.
Rick Axford on the chase
In the aftermath an angry Aldermere defender threw the ball into Axford's face.
Refereee Stuart Liston deemed Axford's challenge to be dangerous and he was red carded, along with the defender, who was guilty of violent conduct.
Mellor looked reasonably comfortable at 2-1 but on 40 minutes another long ball caught out Mellor's back line and as a forward entered the penalty area Dan Davies pulled him back to concede a penalty. Davies saw yellow.
Neither Scott Waters or the net were able to stop the resulting shot which whistled through the rigging but a goal was awarded.
Aldermere score from the spot.
On 43 minutes Dan Davies had a header from a Lewis Jeffs corner tipped over.
Mellor had a lucky escape on 50 minutes when Andy Kuehl did not deal with a cross and a forward got in only to strike a powerful shot inches over.
On 51 minutes Matt McNulty came on for Baguley, Mo Roberts moving to right back.
A minute later Kuehl made an excellent run down the left and sent over a curling cross that Arnfield should have converted but he missed the ball four yards out.
Marcus McNulty then tricked a defender and galloped down the left to send another inviting cross over but it flew to safety.
On 61 minutes Marcus McNulty was shifted to left back and Kuehl was replaced by Tom Bradley who tried to help Arnfield up front.
Two more substitutions quickly followed on 65 minutes: James Archer for Jeffs and James Robinshaw for Arnfield.
On 75 minutes Mellor escaped again, an Aldermere forward firing against the inside of Scott Waters' right hand post and the keeper was grateful to clutch the ball on the rebound.
Tom Bright then became the fifth and final substitute on for Man of the Match Marcus McNulty.
On 77 minutes Robinshaw's snap shot cannoned back off the keeper's shins.
Mellor push for a winner.
Mellor threw men forward in search of a winner but there were no more clear chances and the game petered out for 2-2.
On a neighbouring pitch Mellor Fourths were well beaten 4-0 by Old Ashtonians' Thirds, who beat Mellor Thirds in the Cup last season. Here are some images from that game, courtesy of Mark Jordan.
Is that a high foot?
Phil Brown plunges to his right to save
Mellor defend a free kick
Phil Brown clears his lines
Rob Jordan controls the ball
The Seconds travelled to Tintwistle and were beaten 4-2. Man of the Match Danny Hayes scored Mellor's goals.
The Firsts hosted South Manchester and recorded an impressive 5-1 win. Dave Whelan netted three times from free kicks and Chris Coram and Ben Wade were also on the mark.