The Lilywhites returned to the Tameside Stadium looking for an improvement on their last visit in November, when they went behind with barely a minute on the clock, and they got it - this time it took Curzon three times as long to open their account for the afternoon.
Mossley's failure to deal with Douglas Pringle's run in the 3rd minute allowed the former Woodley forward to play the ball across the edge of the visitor's box. Following one fluffed attempt at a clearance it arrived at the feet of a surprisingly unmarked Michael Norton who made no mistake in finishing the opportunity that was presented to him.
It could, and possibly should, have been a whole lot worse for Mossley before the match clock had even ticked into double figures; Norton ballooning a golden chance over the bar by electing to scissor kick Rhodri Giggs' cross rather than control it and tap the ball over the line.
After weathering the initial storm the visitor's finally began to get a bearing on proceedings and they could have been celebrating the equaliser with their first shot of the game had Paul Garvey not fired Leon Henry's clever flick-on / through ball high over the goal frame.
The frantic opening to the match quickly dissipated though as both sides became locked in a dour, midfield battle that lasted until the 27 th minute when a lapse in Mossley's concentration allowed Giggs to scamper down towards the byline, from where he fired in an inch perfect cross onto the head of James Ogoo. Happily his accuracy wasn't quite as sharp and from a matter of feet he inexplicably headed the ball wide of the goal.
It appeared to be the wake-up call Mossley needed and they finally began to take the game to their host's and in doing so showed the Curzon defence to be something with a consistency more akin to jelly than concrete. Using pace and a wide range of passing, the home defence began to wobble spectacularly under their first sustained spell of pressure.
Paul Quinn and Henry tormented the Curzon full-backs and it was from a cross by Quinn that Gareth Hamlet forced David Carnell into making his first save. Mossley's momentum continued to build and 10 minutes before the interval they got their reward when Lee Connor met Paul Quinn's out swinging corner to powerfully head past Curzon goalkeeper.
Things got even better for the visitor's four minutes later when Hamlet and Paul Garvey combined down the right for the latter to swing in a deep cross to Jamie Miller. Getting in front of his marker, Miller planted a firm header that left Carnell once again clutching at thin air as the ball flew into the net.
Carnell finally managed to prevent a Mossley header from reaching the back of the net when he made a point blank stop to deny Paul Quinn four minutes after the restart but sadly, apart from another effort by Quinn 20 minutes later, it proved to be the only real act of intent from Mossley in the second period. Abandoning their assault on the Curzon goal, they instead chose to sit back and in inviting the Ashton side to attack them they paid a heavy price.
In the 56 th minute Mossley's defence was opened up like a seven year olds present on Christmas morning when Douglas Pringle was allowed cut in from the right and slot the ball past Ashley Connor for the equaliser. From that point on the pressure on Mossley's goal began to grow and the Lilywhite's defending became more desperate as half-chances came and went with increasing regularity for the Blues.
Just after the midway point of the second half Ashley Connor produced a fingertip save to keep out a Pringle shot from the edge of the area, and then followed it up with an outstanding double save to deny both Giggs and Pringle after the defence in front of him had gone AWOL. All it had done though was delay the inevitable for a matter of minutes and from a softly awarded free-kick on the right, the ball made its way into the six yard box where Chris Curley bundled the ball over the line.
The home side were then reduced to ten men when Giggs was given his marching orders for 'inciting the crowd' during a stoppage in play but the glimmer of hope it gave Mossley was extinguished with seven minutes left. A poorly worked set piece gave Curzon the opportunity to launch a counter attack and Norton grabbed his second and Curzon's fourth goal of the gameafter a 75 yard unimpeded run up the pitch.
Whilst the match wasn't close to being the walkover the previous game three weeks earlier was, it's hard to argue that Curzon weren't deserved winners in the end. It's also hard not to wonder as well what might have been had Mossley, to use a boxing analogy, not allowed their opponents to climb off the ropes they had them on at the end of the first half.
report by SJNR
Leon Henry gives chase
Henry keeps his eye on the ball
Gareth Hamlet sees his shot saved
Lee Connor (out of picture) heads the equaliser
. . . and celebrates his goal
Carnell tips over
Jamie Miller puts Mossley in front
. . . and celebrates his moment
Paul Quinn has his header saved at point blank
Rhodri Giggs is sent off for inciting the Mossley fans
Mossleyweb 'Man of the Match' Jamie Miller is thwarted by Carnell
pics by Garry Hadfield