MOSSLEY 2, WIDNES 3
NINE-MAN Mossley produced a heroic late fightback to become agonisingly close to taking their Emirates FA Cup, preliminary round replay against Widnes to extra time.
In an extraordinary finish to a pulsating cup tie, Adam Morgan made it 2-2 for the nine men in the third of six minutes of injury time.
The euphoria quickly turned to despair as they were picked off again as substitute Lewis Buckley hit a 95th winner for Widnes.
Assistant manager John Flanagan had no arguments about the second-half dismissals of strikers Ben Halfacre and Ryan Brooke pointing out both were avoidable.
“You can understand their frustrations but players have to control themselves in those situations,” he said.
Mossley, with a makeshift midfield in the absence of Craig Roddan, Gary Gee and Paul Marshall who were all unavailable, were awful in the opening half and Flanagan admitted they were lucky only to be 1-0 down to the sixth minute goal from Conor Ready.
They were continually ripped apart and it took a combination of excellent goalkeeping from Dylan Forth and woeful finishing to keep the Lilywhites in the game.
When James Steele made it 2-0 following a breakaway and that was quickly followed by Halfacre’s dismissal for throwing a punch as tempers frayed, it looked all over for Mossley.
The dismissal suddenly galvanised Mossley who within three minutes had halved the deficit when centre-back Adam Jones headed in a Morgan cross.
Mossley would have made it 2-2 in the 69th minute but for an amazing save from goalkeeper Owen Wheeler to deny Andy Keogh.
The Lilywhites’ hopes of a leveller looked over when substitute Brooke was sent off for a crude tackle in the 92nd minute.
Against all odds the nine men made it 2-2 one minute later when a Dieter Downey cross was only cleared as far as Morgan who rifled in the rebound.
But with two less players Mossley were picked off in the 95th minute as Ben Hodkinson broke away on the left and squared the ball for the unmarked Buckley to have a simple tap in.
“I give the players on the pitch tremendous credit for the way they battled back and there were some decent individual performances,” explained Flanagan.
Mossley could be in trouble after their late equaliser sparked a mass pitch invasion by players and staff from the bench and fans alike with one supporter confronting the Widnes keeper in a scene that can only tarnish the club’s image.
- It was a night to forget to Mossley as, apart from their FA Cup exit, they lost 10-0 at Irlam Town in the preliminary round of the FA Youth Cup.