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.