Ramsbottom United’s unbeaten five match run came to an end in Tameside on an afternoon of frenetic action, but, ultimately, disappointment.
This was a game that had the supporters of both sides experiencing ups and downs over the ninety minutes, as the game swung from one end to the other.
The Lilywhites started the brighter, and Tom Pratt, on loan from Bury, should have done better when a left wing cross found him unmarked near the far post, but he completely missed the ball.
Ian Flannery had to shepherd Wayne Welbeck away from goal after he had rounded Rams’ keeper Grant Shenton, before the visitors responded with an angled drive from Lee Gaskell which flew over the Mossley bar.
Flannery was again in the right place to block a close range shot, before Jon Robinson went close for the Rams, as his header from a Grant Spencer corner was flicked over by home keeper Russ Saunders. Seconds later, Spencer, himself, was denied when his header came crashing back off the bar.
The home side came back when a fierce volley from Andy Keogh was superbly turned round for a corner by Shenton, who was then lucky to escape when he appeared to make contact with Danny Broadbent in the area, but the referee waved play on. Charlie Anderson was wide with a free-kick, whilst an in-swinging free-kick from the right missed everyone in the area and sailed inches wide of the far post. Keogh created another chance as he turned on the edge of the box, but he placed his effort wide of the post as the Rams were riding their luck.
On 19 minutes, however, it was the visitors who took the lead, thanks mainly to some good refereeing. The linesman was flagging for a foul on Joel Pilkington, but seeing the ball spray out to Dominic Smalley on the right wing, he waved play on, allowing Smalley to progress to the by-line before sending in a perfect low cross for Phil Dean to convert at the far post.
Pratt should have done better when, under no pressure, he placed his close range header over the bar, whilst Lewis Nightingale tried to level matters but saw his fierce free-kick tipped over by Shenton. Shenton was then sold short by a headed back pass from Robinson, and his hurried clearance struck the back of a lurking attacker only to cannon away for a goal-kick.
A left wing cross from Dean floated inches over the bar and onto the top netting, as both sides looked to add to the scoreline. Half-time arrived with the Rams one goal in front, thanks mainly to the wastefulness of the home side.
Mossley soon made up for that, though, as the second half began.
Within 13 minutes they had turned the game on it’s head.
On 48 minutes Welbeck timed his run to perfection as he sliced the Rams defence wide open, and he crossed for substitute Douglas Carroll to level matters from close range.
Barely had the celebrations died down when the Lilywhites added a second.
Again the Rams defence was caught flat-footed as the home side raced through. The linesman kept his flag down, despite appeals, and the ball was crossed to Welbeck who had the simplest task of crashing the ball home.
Amazingly, just minutes later, they could have had a third, when yet again the home side beat the offside flag, only to see Pratt fire over when he should have at least tested Shenton.
On 58 minutes, Mossley did notch a third. A corner from the left caused all sorts of confusion in the box. Carroll was twice denied from close range at the far post, but the ball eventually broke for Anderson, and he made no mistake from ten yards, to open up a two goal gap.
The Rams looked shell-shocked, and the home side continued to inflict punishment. Nightingale’s free-kick was fumbled by Shenton for a corner, whilst Pratt was unlucky to see his 30 yard blast sail inches over the bar. John Bennett then struck a post as Mossley looked to put the game beyond the Lancastrians.
It was all Mossley as chances galore fell to Bennett, Nightingale, and Pratt before Shenton had to be alert once more, to tip over a wicked bouncing header.
Totally against the run of play, Ramsbottom gained a foothold.
A Smalley cross from the right found Brooks at the far post and he bundled the ball in, to reduce the arrears.
Suddenly the Rams sensed an opportunity to get something out of the game, and Lee Gaskell was unlucky to see his header from an Owen Roberts cross well held by the diving Saunders.
In the 89th minute, the Rams managed to level the scores. A free-kick from the right was headed goalwards by Brooks, allowing the predatory Jon Robinson to poke it home from close range.
If the visitors thought they had done enough, they were sadly mistaken. The five minutes of added on time belonged entirely to the home side.
Louis Horne saw his back-header from a right wing corner sail inches wide of the post, before Nightingale sent in a 20 yard screamer which Shenton tipped over the bar.
From the resultant corner, the Rams defence had obviously not learned their lesson from a minute earlier, and Keogh was granted sufficient space from the corner kick to plant a header firmly into the back of the net to snatch a dramatic late winner for Mossley.
Whilst a bitter blow for the Rams, had the home side taken more of their chances, such a late strike would hardly have mattered.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Pilkington, Stopforth, Robinson, Flannery(Hulme 70mins, Toth 90mins), Smalley, Spencer, Gaskell, Roberts, Dean(Brooks 59mins). Subs not used: Prickett, Edghill