Mossley 1 - 2 Lincoln United

Another home game, another rainy day and another one goal defeat. Another goal scored by a defender from a set piece and another goal conceded thanks to the kind of marking that would make Alan Hansen's head implode. One thing you can't say about Mossley this year is that they aren't consistent.

We all knew that this league wasn't going to be easy but I don't think any of us realised how difficult Mossley would make it for themselves. For the third home game running Mossley, for the better part of it anyway, looked like the away team; once again letting their opponents dictate the tempo and take the early initiative.

It was an invitation that Lincoln United gratefully accepted and it came as no surprise when they took the lead in 13th minute. From a corner on the right Mossley's marking was non-existent giving Wilkinson all the time in the world to head home untroubled from 12 yards. It did at least seem to kick start a lethargic looking Mossley side into a bit of action but, other than the occasional spot of bluster around the box, the United keeper didn't have a single shot to stop from going in his net.

Most people seemed to be hoping that we could reach the interval down by just the one goal in order to give us less of a mountain to climb in the second period. And that appeared to have been achieved, especially when Joel Pilkington cleared off his own line, but we were once again reminded that you should never underestimate Mossley's ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

Only moments before the half-time whistle Lincoln worked a two on two break and Danny White made a rare error by bringing Cann to the ground with a rash challenge inside the box. In retrospect it's fortunate that a penalty is all that was given as I don't think anybody could have argued if the referee had produced a card of either colour to go with it. Hawley stroked the spot kick home and Mossley's second half mountain duly arrived.

The match restarted after the interval with the visitors happy to sit on their two goal advantage and the host's lacking any discernable idea on how to break them down. And that's how it stayed for over twenty minutes with a half chance for Lincoln the only moment worthy of note. The game then suddenly burst into life when Andy Thackeray's cross field ball found Joe Shaw unmarked on the corner of the United box. Possibly unaware of the time and space he had to advance, the Mossley winger hurried a shot that the keeper dealt with comfortably. It was still Mossley's first effort on target though and the second, and sadly the final one in open play, came soon after with Anthony Bingham making one of his now typical bursts in to the box.

There's no question that Mossley weren't helped by Lincoln's ridiculous gamesmanship which saw the visitor's roll on the floor, clutch at various parts of their anatomy and kick the ball out of play almost every minute. It was turning the game into a farce and when their keeper went down holding his arm after the merest of challenges (something we might have had sympathy with if he hadn't used that arm to throw the ball out of play) Mossley decided enough was enough and refused to return the ball to them.

Terry Bowker gives Mossley a faint glimmer of hope

With ten minutes left Mossley won a corner on the right and, after playing it short with Marvin Macdonald, Joe Shaw whipped the ball to the far post where Terry Bowker headed home. The goal set up a potential grandstand finish to the game but other than Steven Shiel heading over from another corner Lincoln's lead never came under threat.

I've desperately tried to keep this report as upbeat as I could but the more I reflect on the game the more depressed I get. This season was always going to have a steep learning curve but at the moment we're practically still a horizontal line at the bottom of the graph, and that's how it will stay unless we stop repeating the same mistakes. We can't keep giving sides head starts (against Ilkeston and Lincoln we didn't get into the game till around the seventy minute mark) and we need more creativity in open play. We have a good back four and keeper but we have to give them some protection. They are the last line of defence; not the only line of defence as it appears to be with the way the midfield falls back when the opposition attacks - at times it looks like we're playing an 8-0-2 formation. But to be fair it's not just this season that this has happened, it's just now we're at a level where we'll be punished more regularly for it.

Mossley's final chance of the game goes as Steven Shiel heads over

Lincoln United weren't anything special but what they did was the basics well and that's probably the more troubling aspect of yesterday. On a purely technical level Lincoln were way ahead of us: their passing was, more often than not, short and accurate, like Mossley they defended in the home teams half, took whatever chances they created well and kept their shape at all times. Other than their previously mentioned tendency to look like a group audition for Casualty, they're all things that Mossley can and should learn from.

All said and done though the season is still too young to start throwing the R-word into sentences along side battle but we've got to start looking like a Unibond Premier team sooner rather than later.