After a run of poor results in this seasons knock-out competitions, Mossley failed to reverse the trend as they bowed of the President's Cup on penalties in a stale encounter at home to Skelmersdale United.
As the game progressed, it was hard to believe that you were watching the same two sides who were responsible for one of the best games seen at Seel Park for quite some time, just over a fortnight earlier.
The first half was on its way to being a total non-event before it finally sprang in to life in injury time. In charging off his goal line to try and beat Leadbetter in the chase for the ball, Ashley Connor arrived a second too late and in doing so took the Skelmersdale wingers legs out from under him. The Mossley keeper made amends for his error though by producing a superb one handed stop, low to his left, to keep out Steven Akrigg's effort from the spot.
Things were marginally better after the break, particularly if you were a Skelmersdale supporter. Though possession was shared equally, Mossley continued to labour as an attacking threat whilst the visitors became more productive. Akrigg headed over when he should have at least tested Ashley Connor's reactions and John Cass saw his shot beat Ashley Connor but not his namesake Lee who headed off the line.
When Nicky Thompson marked his return to the club by clearing another United attack out from underneath the Mossley crossbar, it appeared that it was only going to be a matter of time before Skelmersdale took the lead.
But with 13 minutes left, Mossley finally posed their first threat on their opponents goal and went agonisingly close to putting a foot into the next round. A free-kick was whipped in from the right by Paul Quinn and Lee Connor met the ball with a bullet header that flew narrowly wide of the left hand upright. 60 seconds later Gareth Hamlet had the ball whipped off his toes as he was about to shoot and, unfortunately, that proved to be about as good as it got for the Lilywhites.
Mossley had Ashley Connor to thank for the scores remaining level as the ninety minutes drew towards a conclusion; twice producing good saves from strikes by Tony Evans. As extra-time loomed Evans was presented with perfect opportunity to finally beat Connor. Unmarked in front of the Mossley goal and with the ball at his feet, he produced an utterly woeful shot which guaranteed that the game would be extended by another 30 minutes.
And it's only through Michael Duffy missing another golden opportunity for Skelmersdale with six minutes to go, that those additional periods of play warrant any mention at all, being so devoid of incident that they might well have not taken place.
All of which meant that after two hours of football, it was now down to a penalty shoot-out to separate the sides.
The visitors got the proceedings under way with McConville firing past Ashley Connor, before it was immediately cancelled out by an absolute howitzer from James Riordan that ripped the bottom of the netting from its moorings. Evans' night in a front of a goal continued to be a fruitless one as Connor denied him for one last time in the game but whatever advantage it gave Mossley was short lived as Lowe kept out Michael Fish's follow-up penalty.
Both sides then went on to trade successful spot kicks until, in round seven, Richard Conway shot high and wide to leave the converted penalty from Tom Hardwick that had preceded it as the goal that settled the tie.
On the balance of play, the better team probably ended up winning. That they didn't do it sooner was due in no small part to some good defending and goalkeeping, as well as a healthy dollop of poor finishing from their own forwards. However none of it stops Mossley's final attempt at extending the season beyond the remaining league fixtures from being any less of a disappointment.
report by SJNR
Skem clear under early Mossley pressure
Gareth Hamlet on the ball
Waiting for the penalty shoot out
Ashley Connor scores his spot kick
pics by Smiffy