SOUTH MANCHESTER 4 MELLOR 2
After two weeks of scintillating football on plastic Mellor Firsts came back down to earth with a bump - literally - on South Manchester's bobbly grass pitch.
It took Mellor a full 20 minutes to come to terms with the soft and undulating surface.
When they eventually matched South's more rugged style they dominated possession but could not turn that into enough clear cut chances.
It was only Mellor's second reverse in 11 games.
With Jamie McGregor away, Andy McFall took over in goal.
Dan Byrne, Chris Coram and Dave Whelan were also absentees.
Manager Si Dalby initially opted to keep the 5-3-2 formation which had served Mellor well in the previous two cup matches.
Jack Parr took over at left wing-back, Jack Kelly started in an unfamiliar midfield role with Matt Peck and Jack Hilton up top.
Jubb, Vickers and Frisby were on the bench.
Adam Barlow on the attack
Mellor made a series of defensive mistakes in the first eight minutes.
The first, misjudging a cross from the left after only a minute, sent a defensive header straight to a South forward who blasted wide when he should have hit the target.
Mellor went 1-0 down from an uncontested header to a South ring wing corner in five minutes.
On 12 minutes South went 2-0 ahead with a slightly fortutitous goal, the ball bouncing kindly out of a challenge to send a South forward clear.
Mellor pulled a goal back when Jack Kelly prodded the ball against a post and Paul Swann followed up to score, following an Adam Barlow free kick on the left.
Then Hilton rose to a Joe Dalby cross and the ball dropped for Ben Beer to lash in a ferocious drive off the bar for 2-2.
Jack Kelly prods the ball onto a post and Paul Swann follows up to score
Jack Hilton rises and the ball drops to Beer
Ben Beer lashes the ball home for 2-2
That might have been the signal for Mellor to push on.
But unable to play their normal fluid passing game the men in blue struggled to find a plan B.
They moved the ball well around the back line but further forward found it hard to get it under control quickly as tackles flew in.
Mellor had the lion's share of possession.
But Andy McFall had to make a terrific save to turn over a point blank header.
South's next attack saw Mellor clear the ball off the goalline but it merely went out to the right and the resulting cross was met by yet another thumping - and unchallenged - header that gave McFall no chance. 3-2.
Hilton flashed a header just wide from a Dalby free kick.
Jack Parr raids down the left
Hilton's glancing header goes wide
Mellor had the wind at their backs in the second half.
The second period was only a few minutes old when Jack Kelly was moved to a striking role with Hilton playing deeper.
Hilton then released Peck with a superb 30 yard pass and the flying winger got to the byline only to see his cross grabbed by the keeper.
Barlow then sent in a free kick, again too close to the South keeper.
Mellor switched to 4-4-2 with Swann going to left midfield with Peck on the right and Kelly and Hilton as strikers.
Craig Fairfield nearly scored a wonder goal sending in a 45 yarder which went two feet over after the South keeper had muffed a clearance.
On 67 minutes Jubb replaced Kelly.
Peck and Jubb then worked a short corner routine and Peck fed Jack Parr on the edge of the box but his shot was high.
Mellor put in a lot of crosses but they were often too near the keeper
Joe Vickers then replaced Parr.
Jubb tried to work a position for Craig Fairfield but his shot cleared the bar from 25 yards.
Mellor were dominating now but on 79 minutes they were hit by a sucker punch, a simple ball over the top and a South forward lobbed McFall for 4-2.
On 81 minutes Craig Frisby replaced Beer, going up front and leaving Mellor with a back three.
Frisby got his head onto a Peck free kick from the right and sent the ball back into the danger area but no one could turn it home.
Mellor are back on plastic next week for Moston Brook away.
Mellor Fourths lost 3-4 at home to top-of-the-league Moorside Rangers Reserves, who have lost only once all season.
Kev Murray, making a comeback scored. The other goals came from Chris Millward and Kyle Davidson, a worldie, apparently.