Dreams of a trip to Wembley or even an afternoon out in Grimsby will have to wait for at least another season as Mossley's FA Cup run came to a halt at the Tameside Stadium, home of Curzon Ashton.
The game had almost got off to the perfect start for the Lilywhites. With less than a minute of it having been played, Danny Dignan forced his way through a crowd of players to connect with a Lee Blackshaw cross but his header flew inches past the wrong side of the post with keeper Carnell rooted to the spot.
Sadly it was to be an all too rare excursion into their opponents penalty area during the first half as instead of building on the momentum this early chance gave them, Mossley appeared to voluntarily take a more defensive approach to proceedings. In doing so it not only left our attacking players isolated but allowed Curzon to dominate possession and control the pace of the game.
As a consequence the pressure slowly began to build on the visitors goal and in the 27th minute Curzon put themselves in front when Alex Elliot lobbed a 25 yard free-kick over the defensive wall and into the net. Eight minutes later that lead doubled as Phil Edghill capitalised on some poor defending to cut in from the left wing and fire the ball past Liam Higginbotham.
Mossley were given a lifeline as the interval neared when Edghill headed Dave Hanlon's free-kick beyond the reach his own goalkeeper but in injury time the Curzon winger completed his “hat-trick”, tapping the ball home unmarked after Higginbotham had pushed a long range shot from Elliot into his path.
Unsurprisingly the Lilywhites took to the field after the break in a more attack minded mood and they were rewarded for it almost immediately. Just two minutes of the second period had elapsed when Nick Challinor halved the deficit with a header from close range.
The goal set in motion a prolonged spell of Mossley pressure with the only respite for Curzon coming courtesy of some head scratching decisions from the officials. Fortunately there was nothing in the build-up to, or execution, of the equaliser that could give the referee even the smallest of reasons for ruling it out.
A low cross played to the near post by Lee Blackshaw was met at full-stretch by Danny Dignan and though his shot was initially stopped by Carnell, the Mossley number 10 reacted the quickest in order to force the loose ball across the line.
The home side at this point were looking positively rattled but the Lilywhites' decision to add more caution to their play gave Curzon the chance to regroup and, once again, they were getting far too many sightings of Higginbotham's goal.
Unlike the first half though the Curzon attack was being marshalled a lot better by the visitors defence. At least that appeared to be the case until Michael Norton, with seven minutes of the match left, was left unmarked in the six yard box to head Curzon into the next round.
There are a number of things for the Lilywhites to be angry about in this match, not least the officials who appeared to be nothing more at times than a proxy of the home dugout, but the real ire should be saved for a poor first half performance which is what ultimately cost them the game.
Report by SJNR
Mike Fish challenges Adam Jones
Ryan Cook in posession
James Ogoo manhandles Lee Blackshaw
Looks like an own goal but Nick Challinor claims it from Dave Hanlon's free kick
Dave Hanlon uses his pace
Nick Challinor wins a header . . .
. . . keeper and defender get confused . . .
. . . ball creeps in, back to 2-3.
Danny Dignan reacts quickest to knock home the equaliser
Mike Fish tries to find an opening
Dave Hanlon gets in a cross but to no avail.
pics by Garry Hadfield