Prior to the match with Ramsbottom United it had been almost two years since Mossley had last won a game in any knock-out competition, and at half-time in this FA Cup tie it looked like a statistic that would still prove to be true at the final whistle.
Not only were the Lilywhites North West Counties League opponents one-up at the interval, they'd had enough opportunities, if taken, to have made the second half nothing more than a formality.
Both sides had cancelled one another out in the initial stages of the game but as Mossley started to labour against a well regimented defence, the visitors, mainly through the tireless running of the impressive Andrew Sensale, slowly began to poke holes in the home sides back line. Despite the numerous half-chances they created it was still something of a surprise when they took the lead through James Morley in the 29th minute.
It was a goal though that almost opened the proverbial floodgates. Mossley survived a very good claim for a penalty when United's Joshua Hill was felled in the area and Liam Higginbotham did well to push a goal bound effort from the same player onto the post and out of play. Mossley hearts were in mouths as well from the resultant corner when Dawson rose above Graham Kay to head the ball just over the crossbar.
There was a sense of relief around Seel Park when Mossley managed to reach half-time only one goal down but whatever was said in the Lilywhites dressing room had an obvious and immediate effect, transforming the fixture into one of those clichéd 'game of two halves'.
Within sixty seconds of the restart Mossley had done more to threaten United's goal than they had in the previous forty five minutes. Lee Blackshaw had been instrumental in fashioning these early chances and it was through his free-kick in the 50th minute that the home side levelled; the Mossley number eleven swinging the ball through a crowded penalty area and past a static Middlehurst between the Ramsbottom posts.
The goal that edged Mossley ahead arrived not long after and was the result of some neat football between Leon Henry and Danny Egan. The latter applying the finishing touch by smashing it beyond the reach of Middlehurst while half of the Ramsbottom defence stood appealing for an offside that was never ever going to be given.
Unlike the preceding forty five minutes United were getting no joy whatsoever from a side that emerged after the break looking far more organised than had previously been, and one that sealed their place in the First Qualifying Round with twenty minutes of the game remaining. It came through Michael Fish's harrying of the visitor's defence, forcing them into making a series of mistakes which he himself was on hand to punish by rolling the Lilywhites third goal into an open net.
There were more opportunities for Mossley to put further distance between themselves and their opponents in the remainder of the match, but a heavier defeat would have been unfair on a Ramsbottom side who almost certainly left the field after ninety minutes wondering what might have been had they taken more than one of their chances in the first half.
In the end though it's a result that, as well as continuing their good run of form, finally ends Mossley's long cup jinx and leaves them facing a trip to the winners of a midweek replay between Bottesford Town and Flixton.
Report by SJNR
Pics by Aaron Flanagan