Two goals from Mike Fish and a penalty from Mike McGonigle helped the Lilywhites, who were wearing their new 2016/17 season kit, win the competition for the fourth time in five years.
Mossley took just 8 seconds to score in last season’s final against Curzon Ashton, and it took just three minutes this game to burst into life after a fine pacing run from Tom Pratt found its way to Fish, who had an easy finish past Celtic keeper Tony McMillan.
The work of Pratt was a sign of what was to come, with the winger causing havoc down the left throughout the game, and he was soon to have an impact again as he set up Doug Carroll from a corner. With the ball at Carroll’s feet and an open goal to fire into it, it was destined to be 2-0, but a miscue and a handball quelled the chance.
Against the run of play, it was the Celtic who equalised. Adam Farrell was able to gain space outside the area, and shoot past Liam Flynn.
That was about as good as it got for a Celtic side who were unable to contain the unstoppable Pratt. Combining with Fish again, the pairing once again penetrated the Bridge defence. Pratt’s floating ball into the box found the front man’s head, and into the back of the net, but a handball denied a second goal and Fish was booked.
Mossley’s pressure continued and they were awarded a penalty after Godwin Abadaki’s goalbound effort hit the hand of Jack Higgins. Adjudged to be deliberate, Higgins was sent off and McGonigle slotted home Mossley’s second.
Three chances and a rattled crossbar later - unsurprisingly by Pratt – and Mossley were in full control. Stalybridge couldn’t wait for the half time whisltle.
Half-Time: Mossley 2-1 Stalybridge Celtic
Unfortunately for the Bower Fold side, it was much of the same in the second half at Hyde United's Ewen Fields ground.
With 10-man Bridge struggling, the impressive Pratt once again found space down the left, cut the ball across to Fish, who dropped the shoulder, evaded the defender and drove in his second of the game. 3-1, and almost certainly game over.
As the game ebbed out, Mossley continued to push for a fourth. John Bennett, who had a quiet yet impressive display at the back, pushed forward and from distance, had a go. His shot dipped, enough to force an off his line McMillan backwards, but the ball flew agonizingly over.
At full time, Pratt was deservedly awarded his man of the match award, to round off a great evening that advertised the strength of non-league football in the borough of Tameside.
Full-Time: Mossley 3-1 Stalybridge Celtic
Congratulations to Mossley on their victory, who continue to dominate this competition in recent times and commiserations to Stalybridge Celtic.
Mossley Lineup (White, Black, Black): Flynn, McDonnell, Bennett, Kay, Dean, McGonigle, Fish, Abadaki, Keogh (Capt.), Pratt, Carroll.
Mossley Bench: Baker, Fitzgerald (ON 60'), Howell (ON 77'), Short (ON 73'), Jones.
Mossley Bookings: Fish (Yellow).
Stalybridge Celtic Lineup (Blue, White, Blue): McMillan, Wylie, Wisdom, Hughes (Capt.), Higgins, Chalmers, Farrell, Wright, Simm, Tames, Mudimu.
Stalybridge Celtic Bench: Crowley, Shaw (ON 46'), McKenna, Burns (ON 77'), Osei (ON 46').
Stalybridge Celtic Bookings: Higgins (Red).
Referee: B. Lamb
Man of the Match: T. Pratt (Mossley AFC).
Written by Marketing & Communications Intern, Craig Bratt.