SATURDAY'S home fixture with the mighty Norton United was Formby's first victim of freeze-off this season, but the midweek cup tie with Nelson provided more than enough drama for two games anyway.
Formby's first foray in the North West Counties First Division Trophy for eight years had everything. A bagful of goals, a dramatic comeback, sendings off and a floodlight failure. But it will be remembered for the decision of referee Steve Rudd to abandon the match after 81 minutes with Formby leading 3-2 because one floodlight pylon at the corner of the ground did not come back on. But what an 81 minutes it was.
Early in the first half Cain Goulding found Michael Boyle whose 25 yard shot went just over Nathan Worrell's bar. Taking inspiration from this Mark Kirby, a player on fire at the moment, powered a shot goalwards but that too went just over.
Kieron Brislen, playing just behind Kirby, was seeing more of the ball and starting to influence the game. On 17 minutes he linked up superbly with Kirby and Paul Speed arrowing a low shot narrowly wide. Minutes later he was in the action again, providing the best moment of the half. Gathering the ball out on the right, he turned and deftly weaved his way into the area beating three men in the process. His shot was on target but was not good enough to beat Worrell.
Worrell had to be alert minutes later when he parried a powerful Speed shot on the turn. Next full back Lee Smith picked out Speed with a superb ball and his second shot in two minutes went inches over the bar. The Squirrels' were in full flow now, dominating possession and powering in shot after shot without managing to make the vital breakthrough that would surely have started an avalanche of goals.
But however much a side is on top, they have to stay focussed at the back.
In a move reminiscent of his earlier run, Ralph Welch gathered the ball in his own half and ran directly at Squirrels' left back Cain Goulding. The pace and directness of the run left Goulding for dead and Welch powered on. Inside the Formby area he looked up and thrashed an unstoppable shot past McLoughlin. It was a bold solo mission and it delivered Nelson an improbable lead.
The game took another unexpected twist in the 50th minute when Nelson went two up. Jerome Matthews had a clear run on goal. Grumpy rushed out of his area but Matthews neatly beat him and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Formby, briefly, let Nelson get on top. Mikey White had to clear off the line from a corner before McLoughlin made a superb save from Matthews with his feet. Nelson's Phil Cain hit a stunning volley that beat McLoughlin all ends up but also just missed the goal.John Cass, making his debut for the club bent a 30 yard shot with the outside of his boot into the top corner of Worrell's net. It was an audacious finish that had class stamped all over it.
On 68 minutes Kirby was brought down in the area and referee Rudd awarded a penalty. Up stepped Mikey White who tucked the spot kick away.
It was now that the nature of the game changed. White went in for a tackle that was hard but fair and was slapped whilst he was on the ground.
He reacted angrily to this and a melee ensued between both sets of players. Referee Rudd separated both sets of players and booked White.
Things didn't calm down though and the set-to resumed. Play eventually re-started and almost immediately White was cynically hacked down, a foul for which the Nelson player was booked.
The game continued with Formby pressing and in the 76th minute they finally took the lead. There was a scramble in the area with Cass, again, firing on target only to have the shot parried by keeper Worrall. The ball came out to Mikey White who knocked the ball home.
Nelson's heads dropped now and shortly after Paul Paynter was sent off for his second yellow card. Both had been given for verbal abuse. Two minutes later Nelson's Majid Ahmed was also sent off as the referee saw him elbow Matty Jones.
Then darkness came. At least partial darkness, as floodlights down one side of the pitch failed. There was certainly enough light to play but referee Rudd was having none of it, and the match was abandoned.