Mossley's participation in the Manchester Premier Cup will last for at least another ninety minutes after they survived the kind of late twist that cup upsets are built on, to edge themselves past North West Counties League side Maine Road.
With eighty minutes of what had been a pretty entertaining contest gone, the Lilywhites passage into the semi-finals of the county competition looked to be virtually guaranteed. Although two goals up thanks to first half strikes from Nick Boothby and a venomous thirty yard free-kick from Danny Dignan, the margin between the two sides was greater than the score line suggested.
Despite Mossley's inability to convert the stream of chances they were creating into further additions to the score sheet, the two that had been registered looked to be enough to have won the game. Even more so when Maine Road were forced to play out the final ten minutes of the match a man short after Brocklehurst was shown a straight red card for throwing a punch at Mossley full-back Alex Mortimer.
Bizarrely the dismissal seemed to trouble Mossley more than the team now at a numerical disadvantage. Their play suddenly became ragged, composure was replaced by panic and Maine Road quickly began to exploit it. First to capitalise was Rothel with a smart chip over Andy Robertson before Struminski levelled the game with just ninety seconds remaining.
As expected the additional thirty minutes began with the North West Counties League side in the ascendency and the visitors more than a little shell shocked after the events in the closing stages of normal time. Over the course of the opening period of extra-time though the Lilywhites equanimity slowly returned and the extra man finally began to count as the impetus was wrestled away from their opponents.
Putting the ball into the back of the net however was again proving to be a problem and with every chance that flew just wide or into the keepers arms, the threat of a penalty shoot out loomed larger and larger.
Much to the relief of the majority of people stood inside the Brantingham Road ground that particular danger was averted in the 109th minute of the game. Picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box as support in a counter attack, Boothby notched his second of the evening by drilling the ball under keeper Jones. And the two goal cushion they'd held a little over half an hour earlier was restored when Dignan doubled his tally with a powerful shot from an acute angle.
Thankfully this time there was to be no miraculous comeback from Maine Road and confirmation of Mossley's place in the last four was signalled by both the final whistle and an audible sigh of relief from many of the visitors to South Manchester.
report by SJNR
pics by Aaron Flanagan