The curtain came down on this seasons FA Trophy campaign for Mossley as a replay against Blue Square North side Ilkeston Town on Tuesday night proved to be a game too far for the Unibond North club.
The initial match three days earlier had, despite the difference of two divisions between the teams, been an evenly fought contest. The initial stages of this fixture though were anything but as Ilkeston dominated possession and with it pinned Mossley into their own half of the pitch.
Barely three minutes had gone when the first chance of the evening presented itself. Foreshadowing what would be Mossley's downfall later in the match, left winger Rory Prendergast took advantage of some lax marking to power a header towards goal, only for his effort to be met by a very good save from Peter Collinge. The keeper though was beaten a couple of minutes later by an opportunistic effort from Gary Ricketts but on this occasion the upright came to both his and his colleagues rescue.
The Lilywhites then successfully endured a series free-kicks just outside their own penalty area before surviving what appeared to be a very good claim for a penalty as Rickett was sent crashing to the ground courtesy of an ill-advised tackle.
Eventually the home side began to get a foothold in the game and had it not been for a spectacular double save by Dan Lowson to deny Lee Blackshaw and Matty Kay, and the former again not long after, the Lilywhites would have held the lead when the half-time whistle blew. However, rather than being a promise of better things to come after the interval from the men in white, it turned out to be the only threat they posed on the night.
The second half was, to put it mildly, one way traffic as Town controlled it in the same way they'd done the opening thirty minutes of the first. Even though they weren't creating quite as many chances as they had been in the previous period, a goal looked an inevitability and it duly arrived just before the hour.
Having failed to heed the warning about leaving players unmarked when Ricketts fired wide just after the restart, Mossley paid the price for leaving the same man to his own devices at a corner; the forward heading the ball through what appeared to be a crowd of statues and into the net.
The failure to close players down came back to haunt Mossley once more when the deficit was doubled five minutes later. O'Loughlin was allowed to stand unchallenged for what seemed like an age with the ball at his feet, before picking out Ricketts with a lofted pass which was in turn looped over Collinge from the edge of the box.
With the Lilywhites showing little sign of staging a late comeback (something which has been a feature of their last three games in the FA Trophy) the second goal not only signalled an end to the game as a contest but Mossley's participation in the competition as well.
Report by SJNR
pics by Smiffy