CASTLETON 1 MELLOR 2 (RHODES CUP)
Mellor weathered two kinds of storms to progress to the next round of the Rhodes Cup, where they will meet Division A's Staly Lions away on January 18th.
On the way to the ground near Rochdale cars were pounded by hail stones from a leaden sky.
Then in the first 20 minutes on a 3G pitch the very physical home side tried to unsettle Mellor with a high intensity pressing game and long range shooting.
It was vital that Mellor stuck to their football principles of quick, accurate passing and they did.
Coupled with an excellent work rate and almost fautless defending from the back four, in which Paul Swann was Man of the Match, it was enough to see Mellor home.
Dave Whelan upended early on but no foul
The scene was set in the first minute when Chris Coram had to head off the line.
On six minutes Dave Whelan almost put Jack Hilton through but his pass was cut out.
Castleton were dominating possession and on eight minutes Jamie McGregor had to be alert to turn over a high velocity shot from distance.
A minute later he had to drop on another long ranger as Castleton employed a shoot-on-sight policy.
On 12 minutes McGregor was called into action again, plunging sideways to turn away another drive.
Whelan on the ball
Most of Castleton's dangerous work was coming down their right flank.
But Mellor couldn't get the ball to Matt Peck on their own right wing.
When they did on 17 minutes Peck skinned his full back with a step over and pushed the ball towards the byline for an excellent whipped cross that caused consternation and was put behind for a corner.
Bruce Clarke then put Hilton clear to slot home but the excellent referee Paul Grange adjudged Hilton was offside.
The important first goal went to the home side on 22 minutes when for once Jamie McGregor allowed a shot to slip from his grasp and it was driven home by a Castleton forward.
The lead lasted 14 minutes. Clarke was upended in the area and Dave Whelan coolly slotted home the penalty inside the right hand post for 1-1.
Mellor had finally adjusted to the plastic pitch and Castleton's in-your-face tactics.
On 42 minutes Dan Byrne surged down the left and crossed. The ball pin-balled to Matt Peck in the inside right channel and he lashed it home high into the net for 2-1.
Bruce Clarke fouled for a penalty
Whelan scores from the spot
The goal seemed to take some of the heart out of Castleton but they were still a threat.
Mike Yates, the L & C chairman, who left at half time predicted that Mellor had a little too much quality for Castleton and so it proved.
The second half saw Mellor on the counter-attack more and more.
On 51 minutes a superb turn by Clarke enabled him to slip in Hilton on the left and the winger's cross was driven wide by Peck who might have done better.
In the next attack Mellor had three attempts on goal, all blocked by the keeper or defenders' bodies.
The Castleton keeper was worked again by Peck, plunging to his left to turn away a goalbound drive.
On 57 minutes a slick move involving Clarke and Peck almost put Hilton in but the Castleton defence dealt with the danger.
Clarke and Hilton on the attack
Peck and Clarke combined again soon afterwards to slip in Whelan on the left but his cross was blocked at the expense of a throw.
Castleton then rallied for a final assault to save themselves.
On 61 minutes McGregor had to save with his legs low down at his right hand post.
Hilton then shimmied past his man and broke into the area only to shank his shot horribly wide.
It was end-to-end now and Mark Oldham had to head off Mellor's line.
On 66 minutes the sun came out and it seemed to be an omen for Mellor's cup hopes.
On 72 minutes Lee Power replaced Clarke.
He had an important role to play in holding the ball up and maintaining possession against a strongly built Castleton back line and he did the job very well.
Mellor might have made the game comortable on 73 minutes when Dan Byrne floated an excellent free kick into the six yard box but Hilton, with time, blazed over.
Power was then put clear in the inside left channel and his cross was put behind for a corner.
Peck was quick to capitalise on a poor kick out from the keeper and set up Power whose shot was wide.
Peck was getting a lot of rough treatment down the right, mostly dealt with correctly by the referee.
McGregor, who had made full amends for his earlier error, was then tested for the final time, throwing himself to his right to palm away a stinging shot.
In the dying stages Power fed Peck who turned and hit the post from 12 yards.
Mellor weathered some high crosses during four minutes of added time without further alarms.
There were some big performances notably from McGregor and the back four, plus Barlow and Coram in midfield.
Castleton's keeper saves from Peck
The Seconds went out of the Wray Cup at the first stage, going down 3-1 at home to Old Ashtonians.
Jonny Cooke scored in a game where Mellor had enough chances to have won. Matt Bass was Man of the Match.
A Matt McNulty hat trick (including a penalty) saw Mellor Thirds cruise past Moston Brook Thirds in the Whitehead Cup.
Rick Axford, Nick Broadway, Fred Keyte and James Adamson (with his first goal in senior football) were the other scorers.
In the Hellawell Shield, Mellor Fourths lost 3-4 at home to Old Strets Fifths.
Chris Millward netted twice and Dunc Bray scored the other. Phil Brown was Mellor's star man.