Scarborough Athletic exited the Evo-Stik League Cup on Thursday night, losing 2-0 on the road at Atherton.
In a terrible game of football, Boro huffed and puffed against a workmanlike Atherton side, but failed to come up with the goods.
Boro gave runs to two debutants in Jorome Slew and Chris Dawson, while a handful of other changes were made.
Much of the first half was a non-event, though things finally began to warm up after the half-hour.
Jimmy Beadle crept onto a through ball, but his effort, the first shot of the game, was brilliantly tipped away by keeper Greg Hartley.
Then, with the second meaningful attack of the evening, former Boro man Glenn Matthews bullocked through three challenges and picked out Tom Morgan's top corner to open the scoring for the hosts.
Little happened the in the closing stages of the half and it was something of a blessing when Mr Bruce blew his whistle for the interval.
Ben Hardcastle smashed an angled drive just wide of the Boro goal just after the new half got underway, but the lull and the midfield war of attrition soon returned.
This was broken on the hour when, after a spell of Atherton pressing, David Sherlock popped up at the far post to head home the home team's second.
Having lost James Cadman to injury earlier in the game, Boro threw on youngster Ben Atkinson and Josh Wallace in the closing stages.
But Atherton stuck to their task and ground out a very dour win to book their place in the next round of the cup.