FROM the kick off it was clear the wind was the dominant force in the game. So strong was it that it rendered any attempts by Formby to play football hopeless so it became a matter of Holker's attack versus Formby's defence.
And Formby did defend. Heroically. Star performers were Mikey White and Conor Murphy in defence, Matty Jones and Paul Speed in midfield and McLoughlin in goal.
The first major incident of the game came on the quarter hour. Connor Belger tangled with a Holker defender on the left wing, conceding a throw-in.
Whilst the player was down, Belger appeared to kick out at him. Referee Jim Laflin pulled him aside then showed him the red card.
It wasn't long before the referee had to brandish his red card for a second time. After a bit of jostling in the Formby area, Holker's Glen Warburton swung his elbow and caught a defender in the face.
That Formby managed to keep a clean sheet in the conditions was quite remarkable. They now gave themselves every chance of winning the game with conditions in their favour in the second half.
But on fifty minutes Holker took the lead.
Bradley Hubbold collected the ball just inside his own half and powered down the flank. He cut inside Murphy and into the area before unleashing a fierce shot that gave McLoughlin no chance.
Five minutes later came the half's most controversial incident. Mark Kirby had his back to a defender, preparing to receive a throw-in. In controlling the ball, he threw an arm back and caught the Holker defender flush on the nose. He was down for some time receiving treatment for what transpired to be a broken nose. Holker were furious with Kirby and were demanding a red card. As it wasn't deliberate, referee Laflin booked him.
In the 73rd minute another attack forced a corner that was hit towards the far post. It was cleared but only as far as John Cass who thumped the ball into the roof of the Holker net.
Formby were really pressing for the winner now. Mikey White shot over and Michael Boyle shot wide. Manager Shirley made one last change replacing Lee Smith with Mark Toohey. Toohey can count himself unfortunate to have lost his place. He had been playing very well until a nasty head injury sustained in the Boxing Day victory over Ashton Town left him unable to play or train for ten days. Lee Smith took his place.
With the game now in added time Toohey, using the wind, swung a long ball into the Holker area towards John Cass. In a majestic display Cass jumped and appeared to hang in the air before heading the ball beyond the despairing dive of Ben Morsby.
Holker Old Boys 1 Formby 2
Formby goals: John Cass (73, 90).
l Next Saturday, Nelson come to Formby for the thrice-postponed First Division Trophy tie. There's the chance of real drama as it will be played to a finish on the day, so in the event of a draw there will be extra time and, if needs be, a penalty shootout. Kick off at Altcar Road: 3pm.