MOSSLEY 2, LOWER BRECK 0
(match abandoned after 90 mins)
MOSSLEY’S Emirates FA Cup, preliminary round replay against Lower Breck was dramatically abandoned in the dying seconds with the Lilywhites on the cusp of victory, writes Tony Bugby.
When Declan Evans headed Mossley’s second goal in the 90th minute it was followed by the most extraordinary scenes I have witnessed in more than 40 years covering non-league football.
The goal sparked joyous scenes among the home supporters behind the visiting goal but also a flashpoint among players from the Liverpool side who became embroiled in an altercation with spectators.
There were claims that beer or drink was thrown at Lower Breck goalkeeper Josh Molloy who, along with team-mates, confronted spectators with some players even going on to the terraces.
It took several minutes until order was restored before referee Steven Lennon consulted with Mossley chairman Stephen Porter and manager David Fish and eventually abandoned the game.
But as the Lower Breck players finally left the field there were involved in angry verbal exchanges with further Mossley fans.
The match officials refused to comment afterwards as Lennon will have to submit a report to the Football Association who will investigate the incident.
Fish said: “The referee told me he was responsible for the safety of the players and that could not be guaranteed with fans in the ground.
“There is a lot of hearsay what happened. If drinks were thrown at the Lower Breck goalkeeper, I cannot condone that behaviour as you cannot throw things.
“But you cannot condone players leaving the field and getting in with the fans to confront them as half a dozen did. There was a failure from Lower Breck to control their players.”
Mossley filmed the cup tie and will be viewing the footage to determine what sparked the trouble.
“I am sure the FA will want reports from the clubs, and I am sure both be very different as to how they viewed it,” said Fish.
The Mossley manager claimed the “occasion got to them” in what had been a niggly match which was not helped by poor refereeing and inconsistent decision making which left players and fans frustrated and a powder-keg atmosphere.
“They came to spoil and scrap and get into a fight,” said Fish.
Reflecting on the tie, Fish explained he was delighted by the way in which his players delivered their game plan.
“We defended very well and scored both goals from set pieces, something we had been working on,” he continued.
“It was a shame it ended the way it did and not with victory celebrations.”
Mossley, who drew 2-2 in Liverpool three days earlier, had taken a 43rd minute lead when captain Andy Keogh found the net with a glancing header from Kain Dean’s corner.
Harry Pratt would have doubled the lead with 20 minutes left when he was denied by a fabulous save by Molloy.
But in the 90th minute came what Mossley thought was the clinching goal when central defender Evans headed home a corner only for his joy to quickly turn to despair by the events that followed.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “It doesn’t appear that we were called to the incident”.
The Correspondent contacted Lower Breck today for a comment, but nobody has, as yet, replied.