Ossett Town 3 - 2 Mossley

With no midweek game coming up you've got to applaud Mossley for bringing their Halloween special forward a couple of days. Unfortunately it turned out to be more trick than treat for the huge number of Lilywhites supporters who'd travelled to Ossest.

The first forty five minutes were a horror show; the worst opening half I've seen from a Mossley side since that ignominious day at Hinckley United in the FA Cup two years ago. The difference is that back then there was at least the straw clutching excuse that we were playing a side from two divisions higher, but on Saturday we were being played off the park by a side just two places above us in the league.

With the Mossley's defensive unit resembling a landmine victim (i.e. spread randomly over a wide area) it was nothing short of a miracle that the two goal defecit wasn't five or six by the interval - Ossett at times having players practically queueing up to apply the finishing touches to moves such was the lack of any knind of marking in the Mossley ranks.

That the home side had only two goals to show for their efforts was down to a combination of their endearing ability to spurn gilt edged chances and Danny Trueman. The Mossley number one has come in for some criticism recently but without his efforts between the sticks at Ingfield things, would have got extremely embarassing.

As such they remained only 'very' embarassing. Carl Fothergill got Ossett off the mark in the 23rd minute, probably as surprised as anyone else to find himself unmarked in the middle of Mossley's penalty area as he slotted the ball under Trueman. The second arrived five minutes before the break as Fothergill and Danny Ryan had a quick game of 'After you Claude' on the edge of Mossley's six yard box before the latter supplied the inevitable final touch.

Osset's Andy Hayward deserves a special mention though for his variation on the Paul Robinson vs. Croatia routine. Unmarked, eight yards out and with an open goal to aim at he completely missed the ball, almost kicking himself in the head in the process. Something I'm sure his team mates would have done for him if they hadn't won.

Peter Wright brings the first save of the game out of Bennet

You're probably wondering what Mossley were doing whilst this was going on and the answer is: very little to nothing. Do you remember that free flowing football we played against Lincoln last week and how we tore them apart by opening up the wings? Well there was none of that at Ossett. There didn't seem to be any concerted effort to bring Eyres and Shillito into the game at all, whilst Wright and Ward spent the half with their backs constantly to goal as they tried to make the best they could out of the long balls being fired in their direction. And any attempts to build up a sustained spell of pressure where doomed to failure before they'd begun, thanks mostly to our sudden ability to give the ball to anyone in a red shirt stood within 20 yards of the white shirt they were actually aiming at.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom - the weather was actually quite nice.

Thankfully things were marginally better after the break and four minutes into the second half Mossley finally managed to get an effort on target. Working himself an opening just inside the area, Peter Wright turned and hit a shot that Bennet in the Ossett goal did well to turn behind for a corner. And apart from a few corners that was as good as it got for twenty minutes, plenty of possession but very little done with it. Well I did say marginally better.

James Turley (partially hidden) halves the defecit

With twenty minutes remaining Kirk Wheeler received his second yellow card of the game and Mossley quickly made use of the man advantage. Lee Shillito supplied a cross from the byline and James Turley, with almost his first touch of the game, beat the keeper to the ball and put Mossley back in the game.

Four minutes later it looked like Mossley had salvaged something out of a game that should have been beyond them when Gary Furnival, arriving late at the far side of the area, got on the end of another Shillito cross and unleashed a piledriver of a volley past a stunned Bennet.

Everyone watches as Furnival's effort makes its way to the back of the net

If the game had ended there and then the convoy heading back across the Pennines would have been a happy one, but one thanking their luck all the same. Sadly, there was fifteen minutes still and with Ossett going in search of a goal that would put them back in the lead, Mossley's frailties from the first half reappeared once again.

To find your defence outnumbered by a team fielding an equal compliment of players is disappointing, but to be given the runaround by a team that had had a defender sent off is frightening. After failing to heed the warning signs that went off when Ossett had two goals disallowed in quick succession for offside, Mossley lost their shape once more and Ryan's free run down the left was brought to a halt in the penalty area by Chris Ward. From where I was stood the penalty awarded for the challenge looked harsh but it's a risk you take when you slide in from behind. Trueman managed to get a hand on to Fothergill's spot kick but it wasn't enough to stop the ball from reaching the back of the net and ultimately giving Ossett the three points.

Lee Shillitoe desperately tries to keep the ball in (left) and Wheeler receives his marching as the referee gets his card arm warmed up in readiness for the final whistle

The final whistle was the cue for one last act of drama. As the teams left the field a small posse of Mossley players, including the manager, surrounded the referee and from our distant vantage point we could see that they weren't complimenting him on how well trimmed his beard was. As the travelling supporters (making up around half of Osset's second highest gate of the season) slowly mad their way out of the ground they watched in growing indifference as the referee waved his red card in the direction of two Mossley players before the pitch cleared.

On the face of it losing to a debatable penalty in what was virtually the last minute of a match looks incredibly unlucky, especially after you've managed to come back from two goals down, but the undeniable truth is that Ossett were deserved winners. They ripped us apart in the first half, limited us to a few chances in the second and with 10 men went looking for the winner after we drew level. It's not as though we can claim we were unlucky either as it was a miracle that we were only two down at half-time.

If the late penalty hadn't been given or if it had been saved it would only serve to mask for another week some of the problems that need addressing and have needed addressing since the start of the season (and arguably for a good while longer). Whether that can be done in time for next weeks game at Cammell Laird is debatable but if we're to survive for more than one season in the Unibond Premier it has to be sooner rather than later.

Apologies For The Delay

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!
Normally I'd have a match report up on the blog by this time but, because I'm still so utterly peed off by what happened yesterday, I've decided to have a Mossley-free day. All being well the report will be up within the next day or two...

Chip Wrappers: 27/10/2006

It seems we just can't stop getting promoted. After going from the NWCL to the Unibond First and then onto the Unibond Premier, we've gone from the little yellow box on the back of last weeks Advertiser to taking over virtually the entire back page. Next to the extremely large picture of David Eyres in his Oldham days, Mossley manager Jason Beckford praises the former Blackpool man and says 'a cup run wouldn't go amiss.' Which is nice.

After last week's vision of what things could be like with a bit of variety, it's a back to normality with a thud in this weeks edition of The Reporter.

A back page Stalybridge Celtic story with a picture of John Reed - check; a Droylsden piece with a photo of Dave Pace pointing - check; David Eyres in a Preston North End away shirt - check; Droylsden team photo - check; and last but by no means least that photo of the Stalybridge squad, just in case you'd forgotten what they looked like in the two weeks since it was last printed.

Looking over these pages you suddenly start to realise just how small the papers archive of current sports photographs must be. All of the above images have been used on countless other occasions already this season (one more than most), which is why from this week forward Chip Wrappers is going to keep track of how often they're used. Of course this kind of thing would have been better starting at the beginning of the season but that's Mossley80 for you - an entity that's constantly evolving to remain on the cutting edge of... something or other.

If anybody wants to have a guess on which picture will finish second in the appearance table (the winner's a bit of a given going off the first two months of the season) in this Fantasy Photo League, get in touch via the usual methods. Don't forget that are a couple of other regular photos that will be added to the selection in the coming weeks (e.g. the Gary Lowe picture, the two alternates for Pace and Reed and that picture of Celtic's Paul Sykes in which he sports an alice band).

However the big talking point of the week comes courtesy of The Reporter's review of the Oldham Town-Ashton United MPC game. Instead of printing what was sent into them by the Robins own match reporter, the report has obviously been hijacked by somebody at the paper in order to stick the boot in on the Ashton manager. To get a better idea of what's gone I suggest reading some of the threads on the Ashton forum here and here.

Now I'm all for the paper growing a backbone and offering opinion but to do it in such a sneaky way is breathtakingly misguided. Put it this way, do you think that they'd criticize John Reed's tenure at Stalybridge and effect the rise in admission at Bower Fold has had on attendances? Or the Council's handling of some local affairs? No, of course they wouldn't which makes this attack seem all the more cowardly.

Still, now that Ashton have been touch with them, it's going to be fun seeing them squirm their way out of this one in next weeks edition. Till then...

Off to: Ossett

For the last two seasons we've made the short trip eastwards to take on Ossett Albion but its been 12 years since we made the same journey to take on their neighbours, Town.

I don't remember many games from the 94/95 season but I can recall our game at Ingfield in the FA Cup purely because it was so unmemorable - a 0-0 draw with barely a shot in anger over the course of ninety minutes. If somebody had video taped it they could have made a fortune distrubuting it to hospitals up and down the country as a new form of general anaesthetic.

With the two Ossett teams being in close proximity to one another they're not unlike a Yorkshire version of Atherton, Town being L.R. to Albion's Collieries. Of the two sides Town are the better supported, drawing an average of 137 through the gates for their seven home games so far this season compared to Albion's 107, however their attendances tend to fluctuate quite a lot; as evidencd last season when a home tie in the FA Cup drew a crowd of 700+ to Town's ground whilst the league game three days later attracted around 40 hardy souls.

After getting off to a poor start this season Town have rallied a bit of late and moved up to 16th in the league, two places and two points ahead of us. They've only lost twice at home in the league but they enter the game on the back of a 3-2 defeat at Ingfield in the Trophy at the hands of Ashton United.

Prediction: I'll have to have a think about this one. Nine from eighteen against five from eighteen... erm... divide by three... factor in the coefficient... tum-ti-tum-ti-tum... square root... add two and it's going to be... a draw! Remainder one.

Mossley 1 - 0 Salford City

JFK's assassination in Dallas, November 1963.
Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon, July 1969.
People start to pull down the Berlin wall, November 1989.
One Tuesday morning in New York, September 2001.

All momentous events that often have the question "What were you doing when...?" applied to them.

Ask the same of the Mossley vs. Salford City game in October 2006 and almost to a man, or woman, those who were at Seel Park will answer, "Wishing I was somewhere else!"

If last Saturday's game was the Lord Mayor's Parade, this was the equivalent of watching the man sweeping the street afterwards. It's not that it was a bad game it was just, well... dull; unbelievably so at times. Not that that should come as a surprise for a game played under the banner of the county FA's least important senior knockout competition. To misquote a famous line from the movie industry's Holy Trilogy - "Excitement, drama, incident. The Manchester Premier Cup craves not these things."

Now if you're one of those people fortunate enough to have an excuse for doing something better last night (e.g. being on holiday, working late, suffering from the effects of chronic diarrhoea, etc) and are currently thinking that things surely weren't that bad and that I'm exaggerating, here are the highlights of the first 77 minutes of the game:

Hmm, the grass is looking... er... green!

After studying it closely for an hour, I can safely say this paint's definitely dry.

Look! I think it's grown... a bit.

And that's about as good as it got.

There's no denying that both sides were putting the effort in but much like the time an unemployed eunuch completely misread the 'people wanted for jobs' sign at the College for Fellatic Arts, there was a lot of puffing and blowing but nothing to show for it.

With the prospect of extra-time and penalties about as welcome as a letter containing a positive result from the clap clinic on the morning of your wedding, things finally took a turn for the better following the introduction of Peter Wright to proceedings. His first touch of the game was to whizz the ball just over the crossbar from an incredibly narrow angle but his second touch was better. In a carbon copy of Chris Ward's first goal against Lincoln, the ex-Chorley man looped Nicky Thompson's downfield ball over a stranded Salford keeper and shepherded it into an open net.

Peter Wright banishes thoughts of an extra thirty minutes.

Suddenly, as if defib paddles had been applied, the game burst into a modicum of life. Melford Knight and Chris Ward went close to extending Mossley's lead (the former with a blistering 30 yard effort which skimmed the post) whilst at the other end Christan Cooke cleared a Salford corner off the goal line. All too quickly though the effect wore off and after another five minutes of flatlining the referee called time.

All credit to Salford though, not once did they look like a team currently plying their trade two divisions below us. However, if you're a pessimist you could also view it this way: a virtually full strength Mossley side struggled at home to beat a chopped and changed NWCL team.

However a win's a win and that's more important than performances in cup matches. Plus we avoided becoming another victim on a night of long knives in the competition for Unibond teams; Ashton United and Radcliffe both coming croppers at the hands of sides lower than Salford in the NWCL pecking order.

They say that when you're about to die, for a split second life flashes before your eyes. If I didn't fear death before, the thought of having to watch this game again whilst I meet the Reaper chills me to the bone. On the plus side though it will make that last second seem like a lifetime...

Salford City Are Coming!

Mossley’s October mini-break from the trials and tribulations of Unibond League football continues as the cup competition that everyone loves to shrug their shoulders at rolls into town.

Yes, the Manchester Premier Cup (the County FA competition deemed to be beneath the professional sides in the area) returns once more as twelve local clubs are slowly whittled down over the course of the next six months, until one side gets the right to be the team who loses to Droylsden in the final.

FC Dave Pace have had a near stranglehold on this cup over the last few years and in all honesty I can’t see this season being any different either. For all his bluster about how little he regards the competition he doesn’t half take it seriously and maybe the ‘win it all’ attitude he instils in his team is something we can all learn from. After all, a cup’s a cup, no matter how much of a joke reputation it has.

Tomorrow night (or this evening if you’re not reading this yesterday… I think) we set a foot on the path to wherever by playing our first game against Salford City for two and a half years.

Our last meeting came during the 2003/04 NWCL title chase when we visited Moor Lane ground for our penultimate away trip of the season. What we came away with was a spectacularly comfortable 5-1 win with six different Mossley players on the score sheet.

Of the 14 named for that game only one remains - Steven Sheil (who scored the opener), whereas Salford’s team in the intervening years has been shorn of the names that we used to know and dislike. Dave Brown rejoined them briefly earlier on this season before returning to the Bury Big Heads but other than Ben Thornley there won’t be many familiar faces in the Tangerine shirts. One player to watch out for however is midfielder Tunji Moses, son of Remi, who is building up something of a reputation as ‘a hard man/assassin’ in the lower leagues. In fact it may be wise for Mossley to try and rustle up some body armour as a precaution…

We’ve only ever lost at home once to Salford City and that was, you’ve guessed it, the last time we played them in the Manchester Premier Cup. That was in the semi-finals of the 2003/04 competition when our run came to an end on home turf as City won a rearranged tie 2-1; the original fixture having been abandoned a week earlier when the Seel Park floodlights blinked off with the Lilywhite’s a Bradley Wasahlo goal to the good.

This will be the first of our four meetings with Salford in the Manchester Premier Cup that hasn’t taken place at the semi-final stage. Go on, impress your mates with that.

Prediction: A tough one this as it depends on just how serious both teams are in wanting to win. If (and fingers crossed) we field our strongest side we should progress into the next round. However I’ve got a really weird feeling that we’re going to make a few changes and find ourselves travelling to Moor Lane at some point in the not too distant future for a very tough replay…

Mossley 5 - 1 Lincoln United

Normally there'd be a lengthy preamble here but, if you don't mind, I'll just get on to the match as there' are a lot of goals to fit in. What's that... you do mind? Well tough!

Despite dominating the first twenty minutes Mossley were struggling to convert any of the possession they controlled into chances; a situation that was eerily reminiscent to the opening stages of the match against Hednesford a week earlier, albeit this time with the added bonus of not gifting the visitors a one goal lead. Barring a lengthy sequence of corners that were ably dealt with by the Lincoln defence the game had all the drama and excitement of an episode of Songs of Praise.

All that changed just after the midway point of the first half when Peter Wright drew the first save of the game out of Lincoln's keeper Ziccardi. Suddenly Mossley seemed to have a bit more purpose about them and with Shillito and Cooke (a title for a US TV police series if ever there was one) now having the time of their lives rampaging up and down the right flank, the chances started to flow. David Eyres had an effort scrambled away before a move which criss-crossed the field ended with Chris Ward curling a shot just agonisingly wide of an upright.

Chris Ward goes very, very close

Mossley were then given a scare as Lincoln's solitary attacking move of the half almost led to them breaking the deadlock. After losing his marker at the back post Frecklington weakly headed the ball wide with an open goal at his mercy, allowing the majority of people within Seel Park to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

How different would it have been if this had gone in?

Within two minutes though Mossley had opened the floodgates. Another well worked move along the floor ended with Wright finding David Eyres in the corner of the box and, after turning one defender, the veteren winger lobbed the ball over Ziccardi to give the home side a deserved lead.

David Eyres puts Mossley ahead

Eyres (twice) and Wright all went close to increasing Mossley's advantage before, six minutes from the interval, Chris Ward opened his account for the club. Nicky Thompson split the Lincoln back line with long pass and with one touch Ward chipped the ball over the advancing keeper to double Mossley's lead.

Chris Ward scores his first for the club...

With Lincoln more than happy to defend in numbers despite being two goals down in a cup game, it was almost inevitable that more goals would come and number three duly arrived eleven minutes into the second half. Once again it was Chris Ward that applied the finishing touch, this time to an inch perfect cross from the right supplied by Lee Shillito.

...and then his second

As is customary for a team on the receiving end of a thrashing, the goalkeeper was by far and away Lincoln's man of the match. With practically little help from his team mates he was single handedly stopping Mossley from running up a cricket score - the diminutive number one bouncing around like Yoda in the the Star Wars prequels in a desperate attempt to keep the score respectable. It was at this point though were, unfortunately for him, 'irony' put in an appearance. Adie Orr's first touch in a Mossley shirt came back off the woodwork and Ziccardi was helpless as the ball appeared to ricochet off his bum and roll slowly into the empty net.

Ward sends Adie Orr through for the fourth

Chris Ward had a great chance to complete his hat-trick before Eyres wrapped up the scoring for Mossley in the 85th minute, bending a superb 20 yard free-kick around the Lincoln's six man wall and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Eyres' second and Mossley's fifth

Once again Ward had the chance to grab his third goal of the game (this time hooking a shot wide of the far post) before the day's scoring was completed by the visitors, Lincoln to take advantage of Mossley's special offer of the week - a last minute goal out of nothing. Substitute Sean Cann took full advantage of a four man defensive mix up to give the visitors a deeply undeserved goal with an admittedly well taken finish from the edge of the box.

Following some turgid early season performances the Lilywhite's appear to be rediscovering they type of football that got them to this level in the first place. Although the last minute goal does take a bit of a shine off things, you can't grumble with a 5-1 win in a cup tie against a side in your own division.

Ziccardi about to deny a first half effort from Eyres

Fans who look for omens will note that the last time Mossley won an FA Trophy game by this score we finished the season sat in London's biggest litter bin/urinal. Of course Lincoln are no early 80's Altrincham but you can only beat what's put in front of you and Mossley did it with some flair.

Whether we can do this on a consistent basis will only be answered with time, but for the moment let's just congratulate the players and management on a great result, bask in the glow of being £1350 richer and look forward to whatever the balls at FA headquarters have in store for us on Monday.

Chip Wrappers: 20/10/2006

Besides raising the average age of the squad quite considerably, the signing of David Eyres also had another astonishing effect for Mossley - the biggest amount of coverage we've received from the FCUManchester Evening News for a long, long time. Okay, so its only a five line paragraph in the Saturday edition (the quietest day for sports coverage in the paper) but it's certainly a lot better than the usual fleeting mentions we occassionally get, often on a Monday in the back end of a sentence containing the words 'lost' and 'again'. The Eyres signing also got us on the back of the Oldham Chronicle and speaking of back pages...

If you ignore the IKEA wraparound sheet, we made the back of the Advertiser for the first time this season too. It might not be the major story, that's Droylsden again, but details of our Trophy tie being next to it in a little yellow box is better than nothing.

After reading the back of The Reporter (Droylsden and Stalybridge, again) it was with a heavy heart that I prepared to open the last page, expecting once again to have that picture of the side that plays at Bower Fold staring back at me. With a sigh I turned back the sheet and...

It wasn't there!

That Hallelujah moment...

Checking to see that I hadn't turned over two pages by mistake I quickly skimmed over the rest of the sports sectionand the rest of the paper, to make sure that it hasn't been surreptitiously hidden amongst the car adverts and obituaries but...

There's no Stalybridge squad photo in The Reporter!

Not only that, the space it has occupied for the best part of the season had been filled with a team shot of... Mossley. In fact all but Ashton United and Glossop have a photo of some desciption in the paper. It could well be that the increase in the amount of pictures is due the lack of midweek games to fill the space with but it does freshen up what had become a very staid section. Fingers crossed that its the start of better things to come and a return to something approaching the sections 'Glory Days' when Pav was in charge.

In the grand scheme of things none of the above is earth shattering stuff but after an opening nine weeks to the season where Mossley have mostly been on the periphery of the local print media's radar, it's good to see a bit of positive publicity. In all probability things will be back to normal next week but at least, like some alternative version of 'It's A Wonderful Life', we've had a taste of what things could be like.

Till next week...

Lincoln United Are Coming... Again!

The 2006/07 FA Trophy campaign begins in earnest as once again as Mossley set foot on the road to venue to be decided. Our visitors for this first round tie are Lincoln United, who'll be making their way up to Seel Park for the second time this season.

Both sides entered our first meeting this season having picked up their opening wins of the campaign over the preceding Bank Holiday weekend, but it was United that kept their winning run going at the expense of Mossley's with a relatively comfortable 2-1 victory; Terry Bowker getting a second half consolation goal for the shot shy Lilywhites. At that time both sides were stumbling around the foot of the table, but what's happened in those seven short weeks?

Well we're still managing to stay just ahead of the relegation spots in 17th place; level on points with the teams we're sandwiched between but, crucially, having played more games. Lincoln on the other hand have rocketed up the table since that day in September and now look down on us from the lofty perch of 6th place.

Form wise Lincoln are currently playing better away from their Ashby Avenue base but over the course of the last six games they've struggled in front of goal, managing to hit the net on only three occassions. However that's more than balanced out by the fact they've only conceded three as well.

Unfortunately Mossley's best form is coming away from home too, not that there's that much difference between what's happening at Seel Park and 'on the road', though we are almost scoring as many as we are conceding. There are likely to be some changes too to the side that drew against Hednesford and Prescot over the past week (Shillitoe's injury picked up in the game against the latter and Stalybridge not wanting Turley cup-tied) but its not as though we're lacking in options at the attacking end of the field at the moment.

Prediction: Of course there's the saying that form counts for nothing in cup matches but in truth it does - a team at the top is just as likely to beat one at the bottom whether it's a cup game or not. However I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that there's some substance behind the old adage on Saturday. This is an extremely winnable game so I'll go for a Mossley victory in the, hopefully not misguided, belief that it's going to happen again sooner rather than later.

Prescot Cables 2 - 2 Mossley

After my less than joyous experiences of phoning up grounds to find out the scores of Mossley games this season, I decided early on last night not to spend the majority of my time phoning a number that very likely wouldn't be answered. This meant that the first part of the evening was spent in the company of the Sky Sports web site live score ticker - at once the most boring and exciting thing in the world.

For the most part it is simply a dull, static screen but when the list at the bottom moves up to herald the arrival of an update you're on the edge of your seat. The split second it takes for the new information to appear is the football equivalent of the black screen between 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...' and the opening bar of the Star Wars theme - it can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Sadly for the majority of non-league fans it only reaches those moments of high excitement when the half and full-time scores from the professional games have been reported. So once all the European Cup, Championship and Johnstone Paint Trophy (surely it should be a pot rather than a trophy?) fixtures had gone through it was time for the non-league scores.

Rymans League... Rymans again... Ossett are beating Whitby... more Rymans... Stalybridge two down at home, that Reporter team photo's looks like it could be out of date soon (fingers crossed)... Marine are two up at home to Burscough... and then at 20:37pm:

Woo and, indeed, hoo! Unlike the other matches there's no scorer given but who cares? We're a goal to the good. Goodness knows what was going on at the Staines Town - Slough game though (the next updates to come through)!

I was intending to carry on 'watching' the second half in this manner until I caught a bit of Sky Sports News' 'Soccer Saturday' special. Apart from the use of the word 'soccer' (and Saturday on a Tuesday) it is a fantastic programme, at least it is when it's hosted by Jeff Stelling - one of, if not the best sports presenters on UK television. Sadly the midweek ones are usually presented by Rob 'ermmmm' McAffrey and as such are less than essential viewing, hence the reason why I was glued to the internet.

However one glimpse of Peter Beagrie reporting live from a game and I was hooked, not because of his analysis but the manner in which it was being presented. Caught in the glare of an incredibly bright spotlight his pieces were not too dissimilar to the clips of POW's in the first Gulf War having to renounce their country's actions to camera. Not only that but he was making words up as he went along, my particular favourite being 'differenable'.And just when you thought that it couldn't get any better (or worse) - it did.

Instead of cutting back to the studio after one report finished the camera remained on the former Everton player, his gaze fixed directly on the camera lens. As the seconds ticked by the sweats started and his eyes got wider and wider as panic flashed across his face. At the precise moment it looked like we'd have a 'Scanners' situation broadcast live to the nation we were suddenly back to Paul Merson trying to convince viewers that Steve Bruce is a good manager whilst chants of 'Bruce Out' can be heard from the screen he's watching.

As the final whistles blew it was back to the edge of my seat in anticipation of a Mossley win. Up came the seemingly never ending stream of Rymans League results... Burscough have won at Marine... Flipping heck! Stalybridge have won, we'll stuck with that damn picture again... Fleetwood beat Kendal... Where's the Mossley result... Ilkeston have lost... Come on Mossley... Aaarrrgghh! Adverts... No I don't want to consolidate my loans, I want you to shove that football up your backside and get off the screen so they can put the results back on... Good Grief! Windy Millers waving a newspaper at a naked puppets groin... Here we go, we're back on... NOOOOOOOOO! They've stopped the results ticker.

Off to the PC, on to the live scores page and there it is: Prescot 2 - Mossley 2

At least it was a point but as to whether it was a good one or not... I'm not sure. Once again Mossley's knack this season for gifting comedy goals apparently came to the fore; this weeks submission to the football blooper Chritmas DVD market - Christian Cooke heading the ball past Danny Trueman to give the hosts a point in the last minute.

However there was one landmark moment in the game. After four years worth of attempts, Mossley actually scored from a long throw. Now I've just got to make sure that I don't miss the second one in 2010... ;-)

Off to: Prescot

It’s been three and a half years since we last crossed swords with Prescot – a season which saw Cables win promotion from the NWCL, Mossley finish third and both sides meet each other three times, two of them proving to be miniature-epics.

The initial game, Mossley’s first away fixture for the 02/03 season, was an immensely dull affair with what few shots there were on target coming solely from the home team. It remains only notable to the Seel Park faithful for the fact that it contained Neil Tolson’s solitary appearance in a Lilywhite’s shirt before he skedaddled elsewhere.

The return fixture a couple of months later couldn’t have been more different. After trailing 2-0 with a quarter of an hour to play, Mossley suddenly turned up and a barnstorming finish saw them win the game 3-2 in the last minute; Anthony Callaghan’s long distance skimmer taking a slight deflection as it made its way into the Park End goal that practically the entire Mossley contingent was packed behind.

And as exciting as that game was it couldn’t hold a candle to the next meeting between the two sides: a fifth round FA Vase tie at Seel Park. Whilst the game couldn’t surpass the now legendary events at Lymington & New Milton in the previous round, Mossley’s eventual 2-1 victory over Cables still remains one of the most memorable games seen at Seel Park this century (or six and bit years).

Tony Coyne gave Mossley a first half lead with a thunderous volley and the game (which can officially be labelled as not one for the faint hearted) ebbed and flowed until Baker equalised with fifteen to go. Things then took a turn for the worse when Anthony Callaghan received a second yellow card but with five minutes left Ciaran Kilheeney stabbed the ball in from close range, sending the massed rank of Lilywhite fans now congregated behind the goal what the Oxford Football Dictionay describes as ‘absolutely bananas’.

What remains to be seen is if the resuming on-field hostilities will see the return of some internet visitors of yore, in particular Tigerman. Who can’t but remember fondly his postings old Mossleymania message board such as how they were hiring a train and five coaches to bring their supporters to that Vase game and other ‘hilarious’ thoughts, some of which even had other Prescot fans attempting to disown him?

Prescot was once home to Emma Hamilton, Admiral Lord Nelson’s ‘bit on the side’ – a term ideally suited to someone ‘accompanying’ old Horatio given his propensity for shedding at least 50% of his major body parts. Shunned by society after Nelson discovered that he wasn’t quick enough to dodge French snipers, the former brothel worker ended up in a debtors prison. Upon release she moved to France, became an alcoholic and died destitute.

Prostitution, prison, alcoholism, poverty… a lesser man than me might make some comment like “she could have stayed in Prescot for that” but it would be in poor taste and I’m above that.

For those of you that have never seen fit to turn off the M62 at junction 7 and take in a football game before, Valerie Park where Cables play used to be shared with the Prescot Panthers Rugby League side. Interestingly the recent song 'Valerie' by the Zuton's was in no way inspired by this.

Dominating one side of the ground is the clubhouse/changing room/tea bar/terracing/all-seater stand and its here where those who make up the older end of the Prescot age range are housed. You may not see them but you will hear them as it’s not uncommon for them to use their elevated position to vent their spleens at all and sundry beneath them like a collection of Waldorf and Statler’s. However offence is rarely ever taken because nobody can ever make out a word of what they’re saying.

We actually have a pretty decent playing record against Cables, losing only three of the sixteen league meetings we had with them in the North West Counties and winning seven. Still, all of the above is in the past and it’s the future we must look to. It may not be bright but following the draw at home to Hednesford at the weekend we do at least know that the bulb is still working.

Currently Ashton United are the meat in a Prescot-Mossley sandwich, seperating the two sides in 17th position. There's only a one point difference between the two sides but Prescot have played a game less than us. That said, form wise Prescot are currently on a run that's slightly worse than ours having only managed one win and two draws in their previous eight games (we've had two wins and one draw) so a victory for either side would be like an adrenalin shot to the heart.

Prediction: Three games without a victory means that we are at least due one soon, so on that flimsy reasoning alone I’ll say that we’ll win.

Mossley 1 - 1 Hednesford Town

The saying goes that there are two things definite in life - death and taxes. What nobody mentions is that there's actually a third: when things are bleak and high ranking opponents are next up - Mossley will rise to the occasion and won't lose. And what better way to confirm that theory than to play the joint league leaders after a thoroughly demoralising sequence of results?

A quick look at the scoreline will tell you that the hypothesis is still to be disproved but what it doesn't say is how close Mossley came to claiming all three points on offer. With a minute of normal time left and the scores level at one apiece, a reckless challenge on Peter Wright in the Hednesford box earned the home side a penalty. The jubilation on the terraces was quickly tempered as everyone began to remember Mossley's record at set pieces from twelve yards (one which makes England's look like Germany's), so when the Hednesford keeper dropped on Wright's weak spot kick there was a collective sigh of resignation from the home fans.

The penalty curse continues...

The miss was a launchpad for a frantic five minutes of injury time which saw the ball ping from one end to the other as the game suddenly became more open than it had been at any other time. That's not to say that the previous ninety minutes.were devoid of incident but moments of real excitement were few and far between.

In the fourth minute the Midlanders took the lead, which even at that early stage of the game was against the run of play. A sequence of corners for Mossley (one of which saw a Melford Knight header blocked on the line) ended with the ball being launched upfield, at which point the home defence proceeded to make a total cock-up of things. Like moths to a light bulb all of the defenders headed to where the clearance had landed and promptly gave the ball to Adams, the one opponent who was chasing them to it. Spotting that Dyer was now completely unmarked in the middle of Mossley's half, Adams played him in and the Hednesford number ten took the ball past Trueman before rolling the ball into an empty goal.

Thankfully that defensive mistake proved to be the last of the afternoon as Hednesford barely got within sight of goal again, though truthfully they didn't really put much effort into attempting to. They arrived at Seel Park with a reputation for being a physical team with a penchant for 'direct play' and it's safe to say that they left with that label still firmly attached. Whereas most teams in the position that Hednesford now found themselves in would have pushed on in order to wrap up the points as soon as possible, the Pitmen seemed perfectly content to just spend the remaining 86 minutes applying the 'big boot' to both the ball and their opponents.

When they managed to evade the flailing arms and legs Mossley got themselves into some promising positions, particularly through the work of debutant Lee Shillitoe down the right wing. Unfortunately everything fell apart when the play got near the box, either through a disappointing final ball or a lack of bodies in front of goal; cross after cross was fired in but nobody in a white shirt could get on the end of them.

It therefore came as something of a surprise that when the equaliser did arrive, it was fashioned out of nothing. Picking up a loose ball just inside the Hednesford half, loanee James Turley advanced forward before unleashing an effort from 25 yards that walloped against the cross bar, bounced on the line and into the roof of the net. Or as the commentary from the home crowd went: Yeeee-ohhhhh-aarrgghh-yesssssss!

James Turley draws the game level for Mossley

The second period saw Mossley dominate possession to such an extent that Hednesford barely got out of their own half. Like the first forty five minutes though they couldn't convert it into chances and, barring a corner which saw the ball bounce off the line and woodwork once again, Pitmen keeper Young had a relatively easy afternoon.

A gap in the visitors backline should have opened up on the hour mark when an incident which the rules of match reporting insist that I call handbags, took a turn for the worse. Wright and Henshaw were coming to the end of a game of push and shove when Town's giant centre half Jellicoe waded in and came within millimetres of connecting a swinging fist with the Mossley forwards chin. Instead of receiving an instant red card the referee unbelievably chose to continue the leniency he'd shown Hednesford all afternoon by only giving him a talking to.

However as the game neared its conclusion the referee had no option but to start flashing his cards about as Hednesford's attempts to break down Mossley's attacks were becoming increasingly more desperate and illegal; Pilkington and Shillitoe both on the receiving end of some particularly dangerous challenges from behind.

Hednesford's sole contribution to attempting to break the deadlock in the second period were a couple of weak attempts from distance, but after the drama of the penalty they actually made a concerted effort to win the game. There were a couple of heart in the mouth moments as Mossley survived a scramble in the box and a ludicrous offside decision that wasn't given (how can a player attempting to head the ball into the net in front of the keeper not be interfering with play?) before they had the last chance of the game. Substitute Joe Shaw picked up Steven Sheil's clearance from a corner, ran half the length of the pitch, worked an opening on the edge of the box but with only the keeper to beat he fired his effort into Saint Joseph's grounds.

This performance was a world away from last Tuesday's non-showing against Witton, something made all the more remarkable by the number of newbies in the team. If Mossley can continue to dominate games like they did this one then the fears of relegation will quickly subside but we have to start turning the possession into chances and goals. The real test comes in the next three games when we'll be facing opponents with a lot more fight (not in the fisticuffs sense of the word) in them than Hednesford showed.

Chip Wrappers: 13/10/2006

The look at this last week's media begins with Tuesday's Evening News, purely because I forgot to buy a Non-League Paper.

The paper's rose tinted view of all things FCUB continued after they drew Salford City in the FA Vase, mentioning that there had been a "tense atmosphere" in the game held between the two teams a week earlier. As already reported in other news sources this "tense atmosphere" was actually some relatively serious crowd trouble so what next for the Evening News - the war in Iraq described as 'a kerfuffle'? After the whitewashing of incidents in Wales and Altrincham during the pre-season, when are the Evening News going to acknowledge that FCUB have brought an unwelcome element back into the game?

As I turned over the back page of the Reporter I've got to admit that my hopes of not being confronted by the sight of that Stalybridge team photo for the nth week in a row weren't high. And thank goodness they weren't because lo and behold, there it was - in the same place its been since what now seems like time immemorial.

Having said that it now looks like the sub-editors are getting bored with it, judging by the fact that they appear have run out of bylines for the photo:

It could be that they need some help coming up with new ones so lets help them out. Post them in the comments section beneath this article (remember to leave a name) or to mossley80@hotmail.co.uk and I'll forward the best ones on to the Reporter.

Worryingly the Celtic picture seems to have gained an 'evil twin' - a photo of the Droylsden team is starting to appear on the opposite page with some regularity. So if I was you I'd expect to see a shot of the Hyde team in a forthcoming issue to balance things out. Speaking of which...

Hyde's midweek win at Lancaster means that we're spared Steve Waywell's regular "anything other than my fault" article but he still manages to grace the back pages as swings the axe at Ewen Fields; David Eyres leaving with the ringing endorsement for future employers - "He is 42 now and age catches up with everyone in the end. David was no exception." If that's what Waywell has to say about "a smashing lad" I'd hate to see what he'd have to say about someone he didn't rate.

Speaking of glowing references for departing players, over in the Advertiser Terry Bowker gets the kind of send off that's been afforded to Ciaran Kilheeney, Mark Philips, etc. from Mossley manager Jason Beckford: "I let him go for footballing reasons and about him as a person."

For "football reasons" as well? Maybe it was because he tackled someone before they got to the edge of our box, who knows? Personally speaking, "football reasons" and the fact he was one of our better players this season don't seem to go together.

Anyhoo, till next week.

Hednesford Are Coming!

As the rollercoaster that is Mossley's season starts to resemble the one in Final Destination 3, what better time to welcome the joint leaders of the division to Seel Park?

This Saturday sees Hednesford, the team with the silent 'd' (not the second one), make the journey up the M6 to take part in the first ever meeting between the two clubs; a fact which does at least mean that they don't have some kind of results hoodoo over us as other clubs in the division do.

And if that seems like I'm grasping at straws in trying to find some sign that we'll do something other than lose on Saturday - you're absolutely correct because the current form statistics offer little in the way of hope for the dwindling group of Lilywhite masochists that still turn up to watch. The leagues southern most team sit atop the away form table (not lost on the road in the league this season) whilst we're grateful that Grantham and Frickley are much worse on home soil than us.

Prediction: Having said (or more correctly, typed) all of the above, if ever there was a game that's got 'win' written over it, it's this one. How many times in the past have Mossley pulled a result out of the hat when the odds seem stacked against them? That's right, once or twice. Therefore I'm quietly confident that our potentially short numbered side will pull off a magnificent victory. Whther it's one of the crack papering kind, time will tell...

Mossley 1 - 2 Witton Albion

Having at one point looked like we might be about to climb a couple of places, a fortnight of wit and whimsy (or rather Witton and Whitby) seems to have seen Mossley land on an ophidian in the Unibond League:s version of Snakes and Ladders; with square one looming on the horizon once again lik something very dark and foreboding indeed.

I'll happily admit that the opening paragraph to this report wasn't very good. Apart from the poor grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes, the snakes and ladders analogy could have been put across a lot better (how can a flat, two dimensional object 'loom on the horizon'?). However, hands up those of you that noticed this? Now hands up those of you who had their attention drawn to the photograph showing a panda driving a go-kart istead?

Of course more hands went up for the latter because its the most obvious of the two. And for those of you wondering where this is going, here's the point: The text is Mossley and their performance against Witton - the panda is the referee, taking everyones attention away from how bad it is.

The man in the middle was undoubtedly poor last night but to blame him for our defeat, as a few people were doing, is akin to standing in front of an oncoming express train and believing that if you close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears it will miss you.

The Yorkshire official does deserve an assist for his part in Witton's opener. With 19 minutes on the clock he punished Melford Knight for a perfectly good tackle on the edge of the penalty area and Mark Peers swung the resultant free-kick into the net. It was an unjust way to go behind but if it was a boxing match the visitors, even at that early stage of the game, would have been well ahead on points.

Witton also had the first of a fair few goals on the night disallowed before the karmic inbalance left by decision that led to Albion's opener was addressed. Not for the first time the visitors were allowed a free path to goal and as Connors approached the edge of the box he was taken clean out by Gary Furnival. It could have been a free-kick or a penalty and a sending off but no - the referee and linesman conspired (thankfully) to give one of the most ludicrous offside decisions I've ever seen.

Like the previous game at Ilkeston Mossley showed a few glimpses of what they were capable of just before the interval. With the ball kept firmly on the ground they created a few openings but couldn't convert them into a sustained spell of pressure or a goal; Peter Wright going closest by virtue of being the only player to get an effort on target.

Things didn't get much better in the second period. Mossley huffed and puffed but it was their opponents that were always the most likely to score, chances and disallowed goals coming and going with alarming regularity. Suddenly though with twenty minutes to go we were back in the game.

Just as he'd done at Radcliffe a fortnight earlier, Steve Burke pressured the goalkeeper in to making a rushed clearance that he managed to block. As the ball bounced out wide Burke rushed to retrieve it, fired in a cross and Melford Knight rose between two defenders to loop a header of Joe Worsnop. Burke could have netted one for himself minutes later but he screwed his shot wide after Mossley's best move of the game had put him through on goal.

Alas, the mini revival disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. Witton broke upfield as Mossley stood around waiting for the referee to whistle for a foul on Knight, allowing the speedy Shaun Whalley plenty of time to almost nonchalantly lob the ball over Danny Trueman and put his side ahead again.

Mossley couldn't respond and the majority of remaining fifteen minutes of the game were spent keeping the score line respectable. As the match neared its inevitable conclusion Rob Edwards, like a buffalo on amphetamines, played Shaun Whalley before the ball and as the last man became the first Mossley player to be shown a red card this season. Not long after the final whistle arrived and the silence in which it was greeted by the few Mossley fans remaining spoke volumes.

I don't think we did enough to deserve a point but I can't fault the level of commitment shown by the starting XI last night either - they did their best and that's all you can ask for. Some of them may not be up to the standard required to play in the Unibond Premier or playing when they're not match fit but that's hardly their fault. The responsibility for that lies elsewhere and it'll be something of a miracle if the situation we now find ourselves in is turned around before the next match; a game which could see us facing one the leagues pacesetters without a full bench thanks to the unfortunate injury Danny White picked up.

We're now a third of the way through the league season and if anybody still thinks that all we're suffering is a few teething troubles, that we haven't had the rub of the green or that it's the fault of poor officials...


Now is the time to start asking some important and awkward questions or else we'll be looking for a panda in a car from now until May.

Witton Albion Are Coming!

Due to strict time constraints (and in no way whatsoever to do with not being bothered) this match preview is going to be as perfunctory as it ever gets on Mossley80. And I know which of you just cheered then!

This will be our first league meeting with Witton Albion for fifteen years, the Cheshire side doing the double over us in the 1990/91 season. Our paths did cross last year in the League Cup, Albion leaving Seel Park with a comfortable 2-0 win.

Of course the visit will mean the return to Seel Park of ex-Lilywhite's manager Benny Phillips, now the assistant at what was the Wincham Park club. Gone are the days of Benny looking like a mediterranean merchant - "Hey... you wanna hire boat" - as with his now slicked back hair and designer stubble (as sported on his previous visit) he bears an uncanny resemblance to Krusty the Klown in his Rory B. Bellows tax evasion guise. If this wasn't brief I'd put a picture up so, for those interested anyway, you'll have to use Google Images to see what I mean.

Prediction: Goodness knows... it depends which Mossley team turns up - and if we've got eleven men. Keeping my fingers crossed that its the good side we saw for twenty minutes on Saturday, a win!

Ilkeston Town 2 - 1 Mossley

In the coming weeks on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing I believe they're having a Mossley special. All of the contestants will have to perform the Lilywhites Waltz (one step forward - three steps back - flail around wildly) but, now matter how good or bad a dancer they are, viewers will only be able to vote them out on their behaviour in the Green Room.

Satire: you can't beat it. If only the same could be said for Mossley.

Following the Radcliffe game and the double header against Whitby, hopes were high that Mossley could extend their run of improved form against an Ilkeston side that was having a less than impressive run of results at home. And under the bright Derbyshire sunshine things got off to a flying start for the visitors.

Not only did they take the game to their opponents from the kick-off - they swamped them. For five minutes Ilkeston barely got out of their own half as Mossley ran them ragged, particularly down the right hand side where Andy Thackeray and Christian Cooke were having the time of their lives running rings around Ilson's left back. The pressure Mossley were exerting was going to pay off sooner rather than later and at five past three (or dead on the hour depending on which face of the Ilkeston clock you were looking at) they took the lead. A throw-in on the right made its way to Peter Wright and a one-two with Cooke opened the Ilkeston defence allowing the former Chorley man to drill the ball past Ben Scott from 15 yards.

Peter Wright gets Mossley off to the perfect start...

Instead of continuing to push home their advantage after taking the lead, Mossley started to sit deeper and allowed the home team back into a game that, up until that point, they had been mere spectators in. On the quarter of an hour mark a move down the right from the Robins appeared to have fizzled out when a weak cross bobbled its way into the Mossley box. Unfortunately it happened at the precise moment Mossley's rearguard were in the middle of a game of musical statues and Chris Adam reacted quickly to poke the ball home. One apiece and fifteen minutes later worse was to come. From a corner on the right, tall centre half Paul Robinson was allowed two attempts to control the cross on the edge of the six yard box before firing home without anybody in a white shirt putting him under an ounce of pressure. From being one up and controlling the game, we were now one down to a team that seemed even more surprised than us that they were winning.

...only for it to swiftly end as the Robins grab their second.

Thankfully this galvanised Mossley back into action and they started to do what they were doing in the first five minutes. Once again the Lilywhites were making great headway down the wings and the attack (now able to play facing the goal rather than with their backs to it in order to bring down long punts from the back) were getting a good deal more to work with. Knight, Burke and Shaw all went close before the Town keeper pulled of an incredible double save to first deny Wright from a free-kick, then Cooke from the rebound. Shaw, Knight and Furnival all went close before the whistle signalling the end of the period blew and as the players trooped off at the break, there appeared to be enough belief that not only could a point be salvaged but that the three points were there for the taking.

Scott performs the first part of his double save from Wright's free-kick.

'What a difference a day makes/24 little hours' sang someone (possibly Esther Phillips). At Mossley 'a difference' only takes the fifteen minutes from the end of one half to the start of another. The Lilwhite's side that entered the New Manor Ground dressing rooms at the interval didn't reappear in the second half, though sadly the one that played at home to Matlock and Guiseley did. Instead of continuing from where we'd left off we were once again back in our shells, defending deep with Wright and Burke having to make do with whatever scraps they could fashion from the long balls being continually pumped up towards them. Occasionally we'd get the ball out to our two wide men who'd terrorised the Ilkeston full-backs in the first half but never often enough to put the home defence under any real sustained spell of pressure.

We did win a good number of corners and free-kicks around the Ilkeston box but apart from one effort by SAS that saw Scott produce another phenomenal save to tip a looping header over the bar, there was little to raise the excitement levels amongst the unusually muted travelling support. At the far end of the pitch the home side were making heavy work of the possession being afforded to them and it was only in the last quarter of the game that they started to take advantage of it.

Danny Trueman was forced into making two good saves before the move of the game saw Ilkeston thread a series of 10-12 passes together that opened up Mossley's right hand side, only for the final man to screw his shot wide when he should have at least hit the target. Another move was brought to a crashing and illegal halt in the penalty area by Nicky Thompson; his blushes spared as the resultant penalty hammered against the cross bar.

With time running out Mossley's caution to the wind moment came... and then went. Rather than add some height to the attack in order to cope with the long balls being thumped forward, Steve Burke (who along with Peter Wright is reasonably good in the air) was replaced by Rob Edwards and Joe Shaw was pushed up to take the ex-Bury man's place - an attacker for a midfielder. 'Why not put one of the centre halves up front?' was just one of the few things mentioned at this point that can be repeated on a 12 certificate blog. Having said that most, if not all, of the travelling faithful had resigned themselves to the inevitable by that point.

Click images for larger photos

A Jekyll and Hyde performance, defeat from the jaws of victory, a tale of two halves, more questions than answers... pick any cliche you want; they're all good and applicable. After looking like things were finally turning around we suddenly find ourselves almost back at square one and a few unfortunate injuries away from what could be a real crisis due to a lack of bodies.

The news of the departures of Bingham and Bowker that broke midway through the first half certainly had a deflating effect on the supporters but the second half performance punctured it big style. I can't remember ever being at a game where there was so much disinterest in what going on out on the pitch from the Mossley supporters as there was in the second half yesterday. Even during the midst of being beaten heavily we've always managed to mine the dark sense of humour that runs beneath the terraces we stand on: a real 'have a laugh come what may' attitude. But it was more than noticeable by its absence in Derbyshire. If it's dispiriting for us to watch, how bad must it be for the players who were giving their opponents the game of their lives in the first half, only to be starved of the ball in the second?

Hopefully Tuesday will see us repeat the form we showed in the opening and closing stages of the first half yesterday, only this time stretched to encompass the whole ninety minutes. The previous few games have shown we can do it so let's start again.

Chip Wrappers: 06/10/2006

To start this edition we go back to last Friday’s Oldham Chronicle and this, which arrived too late to be included in last week's Chip Wrappers.

'Mossley had been due to visit Whitby on Wednesday, November 15, but the game was brought forward when both clubs had a free date. Ironically, Whitby visit Seel Park on Tuesday.

Is Alanis Morissette doing the Chronicles non-league previews? That isn’t ironic – it’s a coincidence! It could be construed as ironic if Mossley’s management and squad suddenly left en masse to go to the Yorkshire club and their first game was against us but not because a rearranged game means we play them twice in succession. Having said that, it’d certainly make a better line in a verse than - ‘"getting stuck in a traffic jam when you’re already late for a meeting’".

Of course it wouldn't be the weekly papers without Hyde United manager Steve Waywell appearing somewhere to defelect his teams failings away from himself, and this week it's the Advertiser. After blaming some supporters last week, Hyde's fourth defeat in five games (at home to a team three divisions below them in the FA Cup none the less) is the players fault. Next week: why the malevolent pixies who live under his shed are responsible for Hyde's defeat to Droylsden.

Elsewhere in the Advertiser: 'Mossley manager Jason Beckford believes there is little to choose between the teams in the UniBond League First Division.' What a pity they couldn't have asked him about the teams in the league we were actually in. But of course that's just me being picky. It's just good to see that we're finally getting a bit of extended coverage in at least 50% of the Tameside press. As for the other 50%...

Apart from a couple of small reports on the Whitby games, our only mention other mention in the Reporter comes via the advert for next week's game against Whitton Albion (sic); they've got to make room for those Celtic reserve match reports somehow. Which sort of brings me on to:

Dear The Reporter,

I appreciate that we live in difficult times where money is short. And, as such, I can fully understand that you may no longer have a budget that allows you to send a photographer to local fixtures anymore.

I'm sure that the clubs would be able to help you out by sending some photographs of games to publish so why not ask them? Not only would it add some variety to the sports pages, it would also mean that we wouldn't have to look at that flipping squad photo of the Stalybridge Celtic team practically every single week.

Start to wean yourselves off it; use a picture of the club badge, a photo of the ground, an interpretation of the game via the medium of stick men drawn by the work experience kid or reintroduce the Uncle Ben column and stick the colouring in picture there. Anything other than that photo. Please!

Yours blah, blah, blah


Ahhhhh... that's better. Till next week.

Off to: Ilkeston

After completing our home and away duties with Whitby, it’s time to cross Ilkeston Town off the ‘to do’ list for the 06/07 league fixtures as we make our way to play on Derbyshire soil for the first time this season.

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been seven short weeks since we played the Robins on the opening day at Seel Park. People often say that a score line lies; that it sometimes doesn’t truly reflect what went on and, in the case of this game, it’s true – how we only managed to lose by one goal is beyond me. In conditions that would have had Noah rounding up the animals, life back in the Unibond Premier for Mossley got off to a less than auspicious start with a 3-2 defeat.

On an unremittingly depressing day the only real entertainment was provided by Ilson manager, Nigel Jemson. Banned from the dugout he spent the first half prowling the touchline in the front of the bus shelter where the majority of Mossley’s fans were huddling from the rain. He got stick, gave it back and everybody had a good laugh, especially as it detracted from the fare being offered on the pitch. In fact it was refreshing to hear someone who made the home supporters swearing seem restrained.

Our last league visit to the New Manor Ground back in April 2005 saw us come away empty handed after conceding a late goal. Last season we left Ilkeston with another one goal defeat following a very poor League Cup game; memorable only for the number of travelling supporters gorging themselves on the alcohol tinged savouries available from the pie window.

Ilkeston currently sit four points (17) and six places (9th) ahead of us in the league table. They also come into the game on the back of a 4-0 win at bottom club Grantham, a game that will be remembered for the fact that the home sides keeper walked out of the club seven minutes before kick-off. Their home form however isn't the best having only won one of the five games played there this season, which should give confidence to a Mossley side who are finding it easier to play on their travels.

Prediction: I'll go for a draw. I think most people would be happy coming back across the Peak District with that result, unless of course the point is the result of us being the victims of another last minute goal.

Mossley 2 - 0 Whitby Town


I'm speechless. But in the good way though.

After spending one, long insomnia fueled night and any downtime time at work trying to think of an opening to this report, I gave up. Quite simply there was nothing I could come up with that would be of a suitable standard to do justice to Mossley's performance at Seel Park last night.

You'll be pleased to note that this means there are no lame jokes or puns so tortured that they're like an inmate of a Guantanemo Bay for humour. I also don't want to descend into hyperbole because, as good as we were, the display wasn't entirely without its niggles. But I will say that not only did it surpass any performance I've seen this season, it was also our best display since before Christmas last year.

So, with nothing of any real interest to open with I hope you don't mind if I just get on to

After spending the best part of this year bemoaning our reluctance to stamp our authority on games, especially at home, it was genuinely refreshing to see Mossley go for the metaphorical jugular straight from the off. In fact, such was Mossley's dominance in the first half that it would be quicker just to list the players who didn't have an effort at goal, so here goes:

Danny Trueman.
Gary Furnival.
That is all.

As the chances came and went last night I was increasingly regretting not bringing a notepad and pencil to the game to keep track, so I apologise in advance if some of what follows is not in chronological order.

Peter Wright had the majority of the early chances but none of them really stretched Campbell in the Whitby goal. The first person to do that Anthony Bingham who saw his cross cum shot tipped over for one of many corners that Mossley won over the course of the ninety minutes. Danny White, Terry Bowker, Steven Sheil and Melford Knight all went close to giving the Lilywhites the lead from one of these set-pieces and it was from a corner, midway through the half, that led to a lengthy goal mouth scramble. How the ball never went between the posts as the shots pinged around the six yard box is beyond me though Campbell does deserve credit for producing one excellent point blank save to deny Wright.

One of numerous first half goalmouth scrambles

Next up Andy Thackeray (for the first time this season getting forward regularly from his full back position) rode a series of challenges on the corner of the Whitby area before curling an effort inches wide of the far post; Campbell watching helplessly as the ball arced past him. Joe Shaw saw a long range effort almost catch out the Whitby keeper when it bounced wildly off the wet surface and Peter Wright, not realising the amount of time and space he had, snatched at a shot after being played in by Terry Bowker.

At the other end of the pitch the best the visitors could conjure up was a 25 yard effort that flew straight at Danny Trueman. That was until the half hour mark when for the first time in the game their attack outnumbered our defence. Instead of capitalising on their strength in numbers they proceeded to (for want of a better word) 'faff' around with the ball before wasting the opportunity with a weak effort from the edge of the box that Trueman dealt with comfortable.

Back came the Lilywhite's and the interplay between the midfield and attack carved out another series of openings which had the supporters putting their hands to their heads and exclaiming "Ooooo!" With five minutes of the half remaining Melford Knight saw his header from a Danny White cross drop agonisingly on the wrong side of the post. The referee then brought the action packed half to a close just as Wright hit a shot from 12 yards that Campbell did well to stop.

Peter Wright has one of his efforts stopped by Campbell.

Usually, after a half like that, the following forty five minutes are something of a disappointment and the opening stages of the second period didn't do anything to dissuade that view. Mossley were still pressing forward but they lacked the urgency they had shown before the interval. Happily, within ten minutes of the restart Mossley were back exploiting their visitors weakness: a slow defence playing high up the pitch against a pacy attack. Matty Appleby was saved from a red card by Danny Farthing managing to get back in time to prevent him from being the last man; the Whitby captain and former Oldham Athletic player cynically bringing substitute Steve Burke crashing to the ground after beating him on the edge of the box following a surging run down the right. The free-kick was a wasted opportunity but just before the hour mark Mossley made the breakthrough.

Joe Shaw robbed Claisse of possession just inside the Mossley half and upon picking up the loose ball, Terry Bowker split the visitor's back four with an inch perfect through ball to Steve Burke. Whilst the cry of 'Offside!' rippled across the statuesque Whitby defence (each succesive shout coming from a man playing the Mossley forward even more onside) Burke pressed on and slipped the ball underneath Campbell to give the Lilywhite's a deserved lead.

Steve Burke puts away Mossley's first.

As I mentioned earler on, it wasn't the perfect performance and the big reason as to why it wasn't is because of what happened after that opening goal. Not unexpectedly, but frustratingly none the less, Mossley started to sit deeper and after dominating them for so long, they handed Whitby their first concentrated spell of pressure in the game. Thankfully the two chances they were allowed were wasted by some errant finishing, particularly the second of them when Robinson fired wide at a point where not hitting the target looked like the hardest thing he could have done.

They proved to be the shots across the bow that refocused Mossley's attacking play. The midfield moved forward and suddenly the game changed again. What were once long clearances upfield turned into balls that were being dropped just behind the Whitby defence, giving the forwards the chance to use their speed to move into the acres of space between Campbell and his back four.

With fifteen minutes left Burke beat Farthing in the chase for one of these balls, only for the Whitby defender to prevent a clear run on goal by attempting to swap shirts whilst the match was in progress. After an extraordinarily lengthy amount of time (which included an ill-advised attempt from some of us under the bus shelter to sing 'Go Now'; ill-advised in that nobody knew the words), the referee produced the red card from his pocket and Farthing left the field to a chorus of 'bye-bye'.

What's worth mentioning is the behaviour of Whitby bench. When the card was produced they reacted like they'd just suffered the greatest injustice ever seen on a football pitch; the assistant referee having to stop their management team from storming up the touchline to have a go at the man in the middle. It certainly makes you wonder what their reaction would be like to a contentious decision. They certainly couldn't get more purple in the face and live, that's for sure.

Mossley continued to press and a series of corners almost bore fruit before an act of stupidity from Whitby substitute Neil Wilkinson allowed Mossley to wrap up the three points. The visitors were moving forward after a Mossley attack broke up on the edge of their box when Wilkinson inexplicably put his hands on Christian Cooke's shoulders and shoved him to the ground. The linesman immediately flagged, play was brought back
and Wilkinson was extremely fortunate to only receive a yellow card for his infractions.

The resultant free-kick saw Mossley deliver a more severe punishment. From where we were stood, directly inline with the ball and wall, there was an area of the goal just begging to be hit and it was - Peter Wright curling an accurately weighted ball around the wall and well out of the range of Campbell's grasp.

Peter Wright seals the points with a free kick.

Many Mossley fans came away from Whitby feeling they'd witnessed a thoroughly undeserved defeat. If they'd left this one without seeing a victory for the home side it would have been something of a travesty. There's no denying that Whitby are a very good side but if it wasn't for some off-kilter shooting in the first forty five minutes the game would have been wrapped up before the interval.

The improvement seen over the last week has been marked and welcome. However it's still too early to get carried away; that light at the end of the tunnel might just be a train coming in the opposite direction. The next two games against Ilkeston and Witton will be as big a tests as any but, in the meantime, we can celebrate the victory and performance for what it was and hope that it's the start of better things in the Unibond Premier.

Whitby Are Coming!

Given that it's less than 100 hours since I last did a preview for a game against Whitby, there's very little in the way of interesting information I can add to it other than the score - a last minute goal securing a 3-2 win for the Yorkshire side.

Other than that I can say that we've never been beaten on home soil by Whitby (a pedant will no doubt point out that that statistic is due to the fact that they've never played at Mossley before but, as straws go, it's a positive one and worth clutching at).

What else, erm... they'll be the first team beginning with W to play at Seel Park since Woodley Sports back in December. Oh, apart from Warrington Town in January. And Warrington Town again during the summer friendlies... you know, maybe I should have thought that one through a bit better.

Whitby may be on a five game winning streak but the closeness (and injustice) of the result up at Turnbull Park at the week end should give Mossley hope of positing three points on Tuesday. However, I do remember saying something similar in the run up to the Guiseley game and look what happened there. One thing I do know is that Mossley will not want the unenviable hat-trick of conceding three goals for the third successive game at home, following the somewhat humiliating defeats to Matlock and Guiseley (3-0 and 3-1 respectively).

At this point I'd like to introduce the first installment of a new, irregular series (i.e. when I can be bothered) that will aim to provide you little facts you may or may not find interesting:

Of the seven goals scored at home so far this season, Joe Shaw has been instrumental in six of them and five have come via set pieces.

Prediction: The new for season 06/07 optimist in me says… a win! It wouldn’t be optimism to say otherwise would it? Our league form at home has got to turn around at some point so now is as good a time as any, and we’ll do it in style in front of what will be our smallest gate of the season. Cue the embarrassing defeat.

Whitby Town 3 - 2 Mossley REDUX

With yesterday’s posting containing little in the way of first hand accounts from the game, I thought that it would be best to hear what went on from people who actually attended the game.

First off, we have The Seel’s verdict (originally posted on the forum which you should join if you haven’t already) on what happened at the Turnbull Ground:

By far and away our best perfomance of not only this season, but probably since the turn of the year. Balls played to feet and some great running from all the front line. Peter Wright was outstanding again and Joe Shaw was his usual clever self (if a little wasted again on the left)and took his goals superbly, Anthony Bingham worked tirelessly for his fellow forwards all afternoon and Christian Cooke was his usual composed and combatant self.

If it wasn't for another awful display from the assistant referee in the second half we would have been clean through on several occasions. On one particular occasion, a thirty yard lob over the midfield area, his flag stayed down until the ball was at the feet of Bingham before, using his ears insted of his eyes he, sheepishly raised it. What is the point of assembling a very speedy frontline if we are going to keep getting incompetant officials running the line?

We still have problems at the back though, the number of times we allowed crosses, mainly from the Whitby right flank, to go un-challenged to an unmarked player on the back post was very worrying, but if you dont stop the crosses coming in, then inevitably you are going to be in trouble.

I suppose this game was the pay back for the Burscough game because there was no way I could see us, or did we, deserve to lose this one, and if we can sort out a couple of issues can look forward to not only some points but some great attacking football.

I hope Jason doesn't make swathing changes for Tuesday as he did after the Guisley FA Cup game because I cant wait for another 90 minutes of Mossley playing neat, crisp attacking football. Just hope for Gods sake they send a half competent official who can handle a game that has real pacey front men in it (fat chance).


Next up is the match report on the Whitby Town forum which can be viewed by clicking here.

I'm sure you'll agree that they're far more entertaining than reading about deciding not to watch Ashton United and trying to find out the result of the game. :)

Whitby Town 3 - 2 Mossley

I was hoping to fill the space left by a lack of a review on this game by reporting on the Ashton - Gainsborough FA Cup tie at Hurst Cross but, just as I was about to set off the match, my mind was suddenly filled with thoughts of better ways to spend £10. So it was off with the coat and on with the radio to listen to the City - Everton game on what used to be GMR, and watch for score updates from Whitby on Soccer Saturday.

Speaking of which, a big thank you to Whitby for apparently not phoning through the half-time and full-time scores. Watching the results scroll slowly up underneath Jeff Stelling in the hope of finding out how we were going on, every Unibond Premier game appeared apart from ours.

Right, I thought, I'll give them a ring... and no answer. Try again... same result. As I was cursing Whitby's apparent phone phobia, up popped the result on the ever reliable page 399 of Ceefax: Whitby 3 - 2 Mossley. Oh bother! Yes, it's at times like this I wish I swore.

The despair got worse when I found out that not only had we twice gone ahead in the game, but we'd lost to a goal deep into injury time. Mossley's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of any positive result had apparently been given its second run out in a fortnight.

Early post match reports on the Whitby forum say that 'Mossley bossed the first half' and the home side had the better of the second. Other than that it is hard to get a handle on what really happened until the views of the Mossley supporters who went start coming in. Until those reports start appearing, why not pass the time spotting the Mossley supporters in the crowd at the Turnbull Ground, here.

Looking at the game from this distance it appears that we wereunlucky but, on the other hand, we've conceded three goals in a match for the fourth time this season (a third of all games played) and conceded another two from corners. Hopefully though we can inflict a swift and humiliating revenge on Whitby when they make the return trip to Seel Park on Tuesday.