Off to: Matlock

It has been 13 years since Mossley last visited Matlock's Causeway Lane ground and it's fair to say that with relegations and promotions for both sides, a lot has happened since then. Not least the fact that Matlock no longer play at Causeway Lane but at the Geoquip Stadium; The Gladiators becoming one of the latest clubs to have succumbed to the lure of renaming their ground in exchange for a thirty pieces of silver from a sponsor.

Still, the Geoquip Stadium is not too bad considering some of the new names grounds have been christened with in the past but I've always wondered why, when they're nicknamed The Gladiators, they never called their home The Colosseum. Whilst we're on the subject of Roman names, I believe there's no truth in the rumours currently flying about that Mossley are changing Seel Park to Circus Maximus to reflect on our home form this season.

No matter what the name of the ground is though, Mossley have a pretty decent record when it comes to playing Matlock in Derbyshire. Out of the 21 previous league games played there both teams have won eight times with Mossley returning home victorious after their last two visits.

Unfortunately the recent history between the two sides is slightly more concerning for the Lilywhite's with Town having already picked up an easy three points off Mossley back in September with a comfortable 3 - 0 win.

At the moment Matlock currently lie fourteen places above us in sixth position, having amassed more than twice as many points from the same number of games too. But there are two reasons why there's hope for Mossley this weekend; the first is that they're performing better (albeit ever so slightly) away from home this season and, secondly, so are Matlock (again, albeit ever so slightly).

Since beating Ossett on the first Tuesday in October The Gladiators have only picked up one win at home in all competitions. However they do enter this game on the back of two impressive away performances at Kendal and North Ferriby where they won 5 - 1 and 2 - 0 respectively.

That first Tuesday in October is also significant for Mossley as it was the date of their last victory in the league. In the two months that have passed since that win against Whitby, Mossley have managed to accrue three points out of a possible eighteen, although two-thirds of those points were picked up 'on the road'.

Prediction: There's no question that the last seven days haven't been good for Mossley. With no game over the past week not only did Mossley lose ground on the teams directly above them, victories for Radcliffe and Grantham saw the Lilywhites pulled further into the relegation quicksand. All of which increases the pressure on Mossley to finally start stringing a series of positive results together.

And (call me crazy) but I think they'll extend their unbeaten streak in the league to two, adding to the point picked up at Hednesford with another at the Geoquip Stadium. In fact I have a funny feeling in my stomach that we'll pick up the full three points on offer. On the other hand, it could just be wind.

Mossley P - P Leek Town

With Mossley’s game at home to Leek surprisingly falling foul of the weather in a remarkably early pitch inspection, it was off to the Tameside (spit) Stadium for those of us desperate to fill up a blank Saturday afternoon with a game of football, in order to watch Curzon Ashton take on Atherton LR. And it appeared that quite a few other people without a game to go to had had the same idea too judging by the crowd figure of 162 (which included ten Mossley supporters), an increase of over 50% on the attendance for Curzon’s last game.

Once the teams had made their way onto the pitch to the sound of Gary Glitter (!?), there was a presentation of a silver salver to Curzon defender David Birch to commemorate his 250th game for the club; an event which led to the visiting Lilywhites commenting on whether Mossley’s squad would get the same if they manage 25 games for the club. Sarcasm or satire? You decide.

As for the game, once Mike Norton had opened the scoring for the home side in the fourteenth minute the result was never in question, the match becoming the one way affair that 7-0 drubbings tend to be.

It was also the second time in successive weeks that Curzon had hit seven goals at home which takes some doing. However because the opposition has been so poor in both matches it's very hard to judge how good Curzon actually are. They do have some good movement off the ball and they like to keep it on the deck but that's more than balanced out by a defence who have the charming habit of running into one another and then falling over. Really, it was like a vaudeville routine.

Fortunately for Curzon on Saturday L.R.'s attack had all the cutting edge of an inflatable banana. In fact it was somewhat comforting to note watching L.R. that (even with my bad back, a complete lack of fitness and no discernible football skills whatsoever) there's still a chance I could make a go of it as a footballer in the NWCL.

Chip Wrappers: 24/11/2006

Football takes something of a back seat in the local papers this week as the back pages of both the Reporter and Advertiser are dominated by the announcement that Ricky Hatton will be fighting in Las Vegas in January.

It hasn't stopped the Reporter from finding enough space to print the ubiquitous Stalybridge Celtic story though, but the paper does deserve some credit for getting Forrest Gump to do the match report on the Hinckley - Stalybridge game:

"Watching Stalybridge Celtic is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get"

Surely a better analogy would be: "Watching Stalybridge Celtic is like a box of chocolates; nicely packaged but ridiculously poor value for money and may contain nuts."

Whilst I'm on the subject of the Reporter, after printing an accurate Unibond Premier league table last week for the first time in ages, they've inexplicably gone back to publishing the woefully inaccurate one again. I honestly don't think that the worlds greatest minds could explain the logic behind some of the decisions made in the offices on Acres Lane.

You may have noticed a lack of Mossley related stories today and that's because there hasn't been any - until today (Friday).

This afternoon an interview with new Chorley manager Gerry Luzcka on the Hawksbee and Jacobs show on TalkSPORT revealed this little bon mot: before being made manager at Victory Park he was our scout! You see, you learn something new everyday.

And finally, they say a week's a long time in politics but it appears that football's the same:

"It's too early to be worried about league positions, whatever Saturday's result was, it wasn't going to determine our position in the league come the end of the season."
Jason Beckford - Tameside Reporter, 16/11/2006

"It is a big game - a proverbial six-pointer."
Jason Beckford - Oldham Chronicle, 24/11/2006

Till next week...

Leek Town Are Coming!

Where would we be without Leek Town? Well, one place nearer the bottom for a start, but this Saturday we welcome the Staffordshire side to Seel Park for the first time in almost 14 years for the game everyone's been waiting for. Yes, it's the BIG one:

The team with the worst home record in the league versus the team with the worst away record in the league.

It's hardly a unique selling point that will lead to long queues forming at the turnstiles but you've got to admit that, for a neutral supporter at least, there's a certain morbid curiosity about two of the worst teams facing off against one another.

Even though we haven't yet reached December there's no denying the importance that this fixture already holds. A victory for Leek will suck Mossley further into the quicksand at to the foot of the table, whilst a win for the home side will leave the visitors nine points adrift of not only safety but the 'test your luck' position of fourth bottom as well. And if it’s a draw neither side will really be happy...

To say that both sides enter the match on a run of poor form would be something of a gross understatement: Mossley and Leek haven't won in the league for seven and six games respectively; Saturday's visitors have only managed one point and four goals in their ten games 'on the road' so far this season; Mossley on the other hand have conceded more goals at home than anyone else and haven't scored a goal in open play for 338 minutes.

Town however do have history on their side as in the previous six league meetings between the two teams they've won three and lost only once. In fact their last visit to Seel Park in the 92/93 season saw them head back to Harrison Park with three points following a remakably comfortable 4-0 win.

Prediction: It's a must-win for the Lilywhite's and I'm certain that it's a target they'll have achieved come 5:50 on Saturday afternoon.

Hednesford Town 0 - 0 Mossley

With Mossley having travelled to the bright lights of South Staffordshire to take on Hednesford, it was decided that Curzon Ashton would be the lucky recipients of the spare change that a couple Lilywhite supporters, desperate for a game, now had.

"Why Curzon though?" is a question that none of you are probably thinking of but I'm going to answer it anyway. First of all, having never been to their new ground it was a chance to see what all the fuss is about. Secondly, it was an opportunity to see a team I'd never seen before in NECL side Parkgate. Thirdly, it was a cup match (the Vase to be exact). And finally, with not wanting to spend a small fortune to watch either Hyde or Droylsden, the only other option was Woodley and having seen them twice already over the past three weeks we were in grave danger of becoming "regular" supporters, so Curzon it was.

There's no denying the fact that the Tameside Stadium is nice (which is the least it should be for £3m) but it's a soulless place. Even though they've played at the ground since it opened last year there's little to suggest that Curzon Ashton actually do reside there; the only branding being the TMBC lettering emblazoning the seats in the main stand.

Another notable feature of the ground is the complete lack shelter afforded to spectators. There may be two huge stands but with no sides, and being north/south facing, they actually act as a funnel for the winds that whip across what’s left of Ashton Moss; the effect being that low winter temperatures become even colder, making the supporters envious of the hot water bottles all the Curzon substitutes were carrying around with them.

The Vase campaign captures the attention of the Ashton public.

Despite the eventual 7-1 score line in the home teams favour, the game itself was nothing special. The opening few minutes promised a humdinger of a cup tie when everyone on the pitch, barring the two keepers, became embroiled in a mass hand bag melee. The catalyst for the incident was an obvious stamp by Curzon’s right back on a prone Parkgate player, but the expected red card amazingly never came and from that point on Curzon never looked back; outclassing their opponents in midfield and attack (though more than matching them for a dodgy defence), limiting the visitor’s to a solitary goal that was sandwiched between Ashton’s sixth and seventh.

Unfortunately it did mean that we had to endure “I Feel Good” blaring out of the PA system seven times, proving that not even the lower levels of the football pyramid are immune from the encroachment of totally unnecessary gimmicks to the game. Worse was to follow once the Yorkshire scored when a, good thirty seconds after the game had restarted, a filling rattling cry of “Oh no!” screamed out of the speakers. It might have been a novel idea when Piccadilly Radio played it in the 80’s every time a local side conceded a goal, but what on earth does it (and James Brown for that matter) bring to the non-league game?

The arrival of half-time (it was 3-0 at this point) meant that not only could we take some warmth out of a cup of tea from a flask but also catch up on Mossley’s exploits in Cannock via the medium of the mobile phone. What follows is the actual conversation that took place:

[brrrr-brrrr, brrrr-brrrr] (That's not actually the sound of the phone ringing but the noise my lips were making due the cold.)


"Kyzpk!" So terse was the reply I thought I'd phoned someone in Eastern Europe by mistake until I realised that what the man on the other end of the line was saying was Keys Park.

"Err, Hello. Could you tell me what the current score is please?" I asked.

"The score?" came the reply, intoned in much the same manner as the initial answer to Oliver Twist’s request for more gruel was.

"Yes, the half-time score please."

"It's nil... ... ... niiiiiiiiiiiiil."

"Okay. Thank you."

"Where are you from?"

"Pardon?" Not only had the question took me by surprise (it’s something not normally asked when you ring up for a score) but the aggressive way in which it was delivered had too.

"Where ARE you from?"

"Mossley." I mistakenly answered, when what I should have actually said was “It’s none of you’re fricking business!”

"Wha... wh... eh?" he stammered, no doubt listening to the voice in his head going ‘does not compute!’


"What do you mean you..."


I’m almost certain that when I put the phone down his head exploded, because he definitely seemed to be struggling with the concept that somebody from Mossley might not actually be at the game. So if it you were at Hednesford on Saturday and heard a loud pop at around 3:55pm, you now know what it was.

The second half continued from where the first had left off (only much, much colder) with the only question that now needed answering being not who’d win but how many the home side would score. And if truth be told Curzon should have got a lot more than seven they ended up with.

The trouble with one sided games though is that they, for the neutral at least anyway, tend to become a bit dull and this match was no exception. Even as the goals flew, bobbled and ricocheted in our attention was drawn to more pressing concerns such as the weather, shoes and the actual names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (not War, Famine, etc. but their actual birth certificate names, and if anyone knows them please don’t hesitate to get in touch).

Once the referee had brought a halt to proceedings, the only thing remaining was to phone up Hednesford and undergo another interrogation from Cannock’s very own Torquemada. Or at least I would have done if he (or anyone else for that matter) had bothered to answer the phone. After ten minutes, my gloveless fingers couldn’t take the cold anymore so I resigned myself to the belief that no news is good news; which it was (sort of) when I eventually found out at 9:00pm that Mossley had drawn.

News as to when the open top bus ride to show off the point takes place will be on here as soon as I get it. Only joshing everyone… onwards and upwards, etc.

Breaking News: 20/11/2006

Off To: Fleetwood

Our campaign in the third most important cup competition begins on the Fylde coast as we make the first of our two trips this season to Fleetwood.

It was 1989 when the two sides last met in the League Cup and, despite it being the final of the competition at Manchester City's Maine Road ground, the football almost became secondary to events that were happening off the pitch. That night the back of the Main Stand became a war zone as people masquerading as supporters of both clubs engaged in running battles with one another throughout the entirity of the game.

The real fans sat at the front of the stand, desperately trying to concentrate on the game as the police moved in to attempt quell the chaos behind them, weren't given much to cheer about in a match enlivened only by the three goals scored - Mossley getting two to Fleetwood's one.

The trouble meant that the fans who'd followed Mossley's peculiar path to the final (having been knocked out in the first round, the Lilywhite's were reinstated after Barrow were found to have fielded an ineligible player) were denied the opportunity to see the trophy being presented to captain Dave Martin after the decision was made to do it in private. All that was left was for the subdued supporters to make their way home (with a less than necessary police escort) and read the "How could they?" editorial on the front of the next day's Manchester Evening News which attempted to draw some ridiculous parallels between what happened at Maine Road and the Hillsborough disaster which had occured three days previously.

Since then though ties between the two clubs have grown stronger and games between the two sides have become friendlier affairs, if only on the terraces! Fleetwood currently have ex-Mossley forward Phil Denney leading their line and Stuart Barlow in their squad so it's probably odds on that one or both will score; Barlow in particular seems to find the net every time he plays against us. However both teams enter this Second Round tie on the back of a less than sparkling run of form though both did pick up a good point apiece away from home at the weekend so all's not lost for the Lilywhites.

Prediction: A win? Why not? The law of averages and all that.

Chip Wrappers: 17/11/2006


That was the sound I made as I keeled over backwards in a state of shock after glimpsing the back page of this week's Reporter:

For the first time this season (not including the couple of sentences mentioning us in the preview of the new campaign) not only have we made the the back of the paper but we're the main story too. And it makes for some interesting reading.

Below are some of the quotes directly attributed to Mossley's manager that have been taken from the article:

"There's a lot of football to (be) played and I'm confident our luck will change."

"Saturday was a game of missed chances, on another day we could have had four or five, but the longer the game went on, the more you realised it wasn't going to be our day."

"To be honest we looked a little lightweight in central midfield. The new signings need time to settle in."

"I'm confident we've got the quality, it's whether we've got the strength of character now, and I think we have."

"We are looking to the experienced players like Eyresy (David Eyres) to help one or two young signings that, over time, will make us better."

""There is one area of the squad we might be looking at strengthening... ... but I'm happy with the group of players I have got."

"It's too early to be worried about league positions, whatever Saturday's result was, it wasn't going to determine our position in the league come the end of the season."

"We've made the necessary changes and we're in a situation now where we need people to be strong, and if that happens, I'm sure we'll be fine."

I'm not sure our current predicament is solely down to a lack of luck (and a few of the other comments raise the odd eyebrow too) but I'm sure you'll all have your own thoughts about what is (or isn't) there.

And that's not the end of the good news in The Reporter because they've finally got round to printing a Unibond Premier League table that looks like the actual Unibond Premier League table! Wonders, cease, etc.

Over at the Advertiser they've given the majority of the back page over (quite correctly too) to Curzon's weekend game in the Vase against Parkgate. Next to it is a small article about Stalybridge Celtic's upcoming centenary. What it doesn't say though is whether it's to do with the club being 100 years old or what they expect their average gate to have dropped to within a couple of months (judging by recent trends).

Till next week...

Off To: Hednesford

This Saturday the enigma that is Mossley AFC travel to Cannock, South Staffordshire for their first, and some may say last, league match at Hednesford Town.

Those of you who've been following Mossley's season closely (well done for persevering with it so far if you have) will know that both sides have already met one another this year at Seel Park. A little over a month ago Mossley were desperately unlucky to take only a point out of the fixture after not only dominating the game but missing a last minute penalty too. I'd go into further detail but why bother when you can read about it here instead?

Cannock's most famous resident is Stan Collymore and if you want to meet the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker, pull your car into a lay-by and within a couple of minutes 'Stan the Man's' face will be pressed up against a window whilst he vigourously looks for loose change in his trouser pocket.

Hednesford currently sit a whopping seventeen places above us in the table in second spot, having amassed
153% more points than our current total of 15. Things don't make for better reading form wise either. Over the course of the last six games Town have dropped only two out of a possible eighteen points and conceded only three goals. Mossley, on the other hand, have only managed to pick up two points out of the eighteen available, conceding an average of two goals per game in the process. However the two points Hednesford lost and half of the points Mossley won were courtesy of that October meeting at Seel Park.

It's not all bad news on the form front though. Radcliffe's defeat at Ashton last Monday meant that they became the 'second worst team at the moment' in the league, pushing Mossley up to third worst without the Lilywhite's having to kick a ball. Plus Hednesford's home form this season is inferior to their record on the road; their two league defeats having come at Keys Park.

Prediction: Call me crazy but I actually think the game is going to yield a very valuable three points for the Lilywhite's. Yes, I did see our last three games but I'm feeling incredibly optimistic about this one as Mossley have a habit of pulling off shock results. Look at last week if you want proof...

Finally, if anybody would be willing to a match report on this game for the blog I'd be very grateful. If you would, leave a message in the comments section below this entry or e-mail me at the usual address. Thank you.

Mossley 0 - 2 Kendal Town

I really don't want to start using the 'R' word, especially this early in the season, but with each passing game it's looking increasingly like our hopes for Premier Division survival are resting on the belief that there are four teams worse than us in the league. And if those four teams do exist the mind can only boggle at the thought of what the supporters at those clubs are having to watch.

That said, Mossley's performance against Kendal was certainly better than the one in the previous game against Cammell Laird, if only slightly. Unfortunately, this time around we weren't playing a side from a lower division but one in the same league as us. And one that hadn't won in the league since the beginning of September (whole eleven games ago) to boot.

The only other remotely positive point that can extracted from this game was that we didn't concede a last minute goal for the fifth game running - instead we conceded it on the stroke of half-time, an unmarked Foster hitting a superb strike past Danny Trueman from just outside the area. It's not as though the warning signs weren't there either because as early as the thirtieth second of the game Mossley's lax marking allowed Dodgson to shoot wide from a similar position, something which was to happen twice more in virtually identical circumstances before the visitors took the lead.

S-S-S-S-SCRAMBLE! James Turley tries to open up space for a shot.

At the other end of the field the home side were at least showing some promise with numerous goalmouth scrambles raising the excitement levels amongst the crowd. Sadly though Kendal's resolute defending meant that the Lilywhite's efforts to fire off the occassional clean shot were constantly being foiled by a body (or four) in a yellow shirt suddenly appearing between them and the goal in a desperate attempt to block the shots.

Mossley's best opening came when a mix-up between the Kendal keeper and his left back gave Lee Shillito the opportunity to curl the ball into an open goal from the corner of the box. Everyone in the ground watched the shot slowly made it's way towards goal only for the unnatural silence to be broken by the audible relief of the travelling supporters as the ball arced its way past the goal kick side of the post.

A case of counting chickens before they've hatched? Lee Shillito and James Turley prepare to celebrate as the formers shot curves towards the goal, only for the gods of football to intervene and flick it wide

The second half opened brightly for Mossley when Peter Wright fired a Shillito cross narrowly wide of the upright but the promise of a greater response to Kendal's goal on the stroke of the interval was not forthcoming. Instead, Mossley's continuing desire to pump the ball as high and as far up the pitch as they could to their diminutive front men meant that not only were they constantly turning over possession, but the visitors complete dominance in the centre of the pitch meant that they couldn't win it back. Thereby allowing Town to not only control the game but adding an air of inevitability to their second goal too.

That it came as late as the 75th minute was something of a shock, which is more than can be said for the method in which it was scored. In time honoured tradition (well, for this season anyway) Mossley's inability to defend the left hand side allowed Dodgson to run three quarters of the length of the pitch unimpeded before picking out Warren Beattie who applied the finishing touch. Yep, things are so bad at Mossley now that I can't even be bothered to do a laboured gag about being scored on by Warren Beattie.

Maybe it was the prospect of losing by more than one goal that did it but the last ten minutes saw Mossley click into life once more. A shot from outside the box by David Eyres sent Thompson scrambling across his goal line to make his first save of the half and James Turley crashed a free kick against the angle of post and crossbar from a free-kick.

Thompson goes full stretch to keep out Eyres's second half daisy cutter

The Cumbrians were still a threat at the other end though and for every effort that Mossley created, Kendal went close to increasing their lead. Both sides traded disallowed goals as the match drew to a close but the sound of the final whistle was greeted with the same enthusiasm by both sets of supporters: Kendal's for the win and Mossley's because the game was finally over.

Much is bound to be made of the suspensions to Melford Knight and Chris Ward, but it's not as though the news they wouldn't be playing was sprung on us prior to kick-off. It's been two weeks since they were both shown the red card at Ossett, a period of time in which we've managed to sign two centre halves (with the fate of a third still pending) but not significantly strengthened an area of the team that's been weak all season.

Speaking of centre halves, Gary Furnival has been a great signing for the club, as shown by some outstanding displays in the centre of our defence. So the question has to be asked as to why the management decided to put him at left back where he was horribly exposed? Okay, we've signed two central defenders on loan but does that mean we have to destroy the confidence of our in-form players by shuffling them around to accommodate short term loan deals? Never mind, eh? Who cares about team morale when putting square pegs in round holes has worked so well this season?

The 'long ball' was once again back with a vengeance but as its been mentioned elsewhere on the information super highway, this is apparently down to scared players lumping it forward rather than any pre-ordained plan. Something which begs the question, What are they frightened of? The players certainly haven't been on the end of any wrath from the terraces and it doesn't explain why experienced players are doing the same.

I honestly thought we'd win on Saturday. Even when were one down midway through the second period I was confident that the team would 'click' and that we'd at least get a point but, as with so many other games earlier in the seasion, the 'click' didn't happen till it was too late.

A visual metaphor if ever there was one. Kendal score their second and the drizzle turns into a torrential downpour. At least it stopped people from leaving early and missing out on the 'full' Mossley experience.

Kendal deserve plenty of credit for their performance: they kept their shape and got stuck in whilst we barely won balls that were 60/40 in our favour; we looked fairly timid even - a worry when we're about to face two of the leagues toughest sides. Still, it's often when you're at the lowest point that things take a turn for the better. Fingers crossed that this is the low point.

The Latest Odds

A match report for the Mossley- Kendal relegation six pointer will appear here on either Monday or Tuesday.

Chip Wrappers: 10/11/2006

The Reporter's obsession with sucking at the teat of Stalybridge Celtic means that once again their back page leads with a story about nothing. According to manager John Reed the upcoming Alfreton Town and Farsley Celtic matches "are two games that could determine our season."

Why those two? Why not the next four? In fact haven't the previous seventeen matches already determined already that the season is going to be a battle against relegation? And as if to rub it in that they'll print anything Celtic related, almost half the article is taken up with the playing history of the clubs latest jouneyman signing who appears to have nine clubs in six years. Something which I doubt would pique the interest of even the most committed Bower Fold fan.

Not that there's that many of them about nowadays judging by the crowd of just over 170 they got for their midweek Cheshire Senior Cup game against Witton Albion, and that's including the sizeable contingent brought by the visitors. Surely that's more newsworthy? In fact if you want a huge back page story for next week why not write an article explaining why The Reporter gives so much coverage to a side that isn't even the best supported team in the borough. There are 100's of people who'd love to read that one.

Still, at least they managed to dig up a rarely seen picture of the Celtic manager to accompany the story so this will be added to the Fantasy Photo League.

As will the image of Garry Kharas that sits atop the Ashton United - Gateshead report (something that wouldn't have been there had he not had his mug shot taken whilst at... that's right, Stalybridge).

Whilst we're on the subject, here's a run down of the totals so far since 26-10-2006:

As for the Advertiser, we've made the back page once again. This time it's about the signing of Fraser Robinson though it does take second place to a story regarding Steve Waywell's attempts to sign an, as of yet, unnamed midfielder; someone who the paper have dubbed in the headline as the 'Missing Link'. And there's me thinking Greg Challender had gone to Buxton.

Till next week.

Kendal Are Coming!

I know we have a reputation for being relatively magnanimous winners at Mossley but as it's the first opportunity we've had to do it, wouldn't it be good to have a 'Bullseye' moment on Saturday? As our opponents line-up before kick-off Jim Bowen could walk on to the pitch and say, "Let's have a look at what you could have won!" At which point out come the Mossley team carrying the Unibond First Division trophy. Yes, Kendal are the visitors to Seel Park for the first meeting between the two sides since Mossley pipped them to the league title in the final game of last season.

With Mossley on the receiving end of a spanking at Gresley all Kendal had to do to claim the title was beat Shepshed at home. However their failure to do so not only meant missing out on the Championship but automatic promotion too as Fleetwood's goal blitz saw the Fylde coast club leapfrog them into second spot. How we laughed at when that news came through at Gresley whilst we were celebrating. All's well that ends well though as one week later victories over Stocksbridge and Gresley saw Kendal win the play-offs and gain promotion, which is the least they deserved for being there are thereabouts at the top of the league for most of the season.

Kendal got off to a fantastic start in the Unibond Premier but their last eight games or so has seen them sink like a stone with a series of awful results and performances, whereas Mossley on the other hand have managed to maintain a steady flow of mediocre results in the higher division; we're sort of like the tortoise to Kendal's hare in the race to avoid relegation.

The Cumbrian side currently lie one place and two points above Mossley in 18th place having played one game less. Away from Parkside Road they've managed to win just five out of a possible twenty one points, whilst Mossley's seven points from twenty four is the second worst home record in the league. Both sides were knocked out of the FA Trophy last Saturday by teams who'd just been promoted from the NWCL and Kendal also lost midweek in the league to Marine, though their forum is filled with posts praising their performance in the 2-0 defeat as the best in quite a while.

This match will be the first meeting between the two sides that hasn't taken place on a Tuesday night!

You'll sleep a lot better knowing that now, won't you?

At least this is a tie in which the Lilywhite's have recent history on their side with Kendal having failed to win any of the previous four meetings between the two sides; Mossley managing two wins and two draws over the past two seasons. In fact Mossley's record from when Kendal used to be Netherfield isn't too shabby either but unfortunately football isn't played in the pages of a history book. Unless the pages are really, really big that is...

Prediction: It may only be the beginning of November but this is surely Mossley's first 'must-win' game of the season. The fallout from a defeat, or even a draw, against the team with the worst form in the league would be unimaginable which is why I'm confident that it's going to be a win for Mossley, even accounting for the suspensions and the inevitable injury list.

Whether the match is going to be anything to write home about is another matter; with two of the worst performing teams in the league going head to head this is either going to be the best match we've seen this season or the absolute worst - with no inbetween. Lucky us, eh?

Cammell Laird 2 -1 Mossley

Before Park Villa changed to Mossley Juniors and then to Mossley, becoming the club we now know and and love, the town used to have a rugby club - Mossley FC.

Before the split between amateurism and professionalism in rugby football took place in 1895, there was no organised competitive structure in the sport outside of county and international matches. Club matches did take place but only by invitation, much like friendlies today only on a home and away basis.

Details of this period in the sport are pretty scarce but it is known that some Mossley players represented the county and one, Abe Ashworth, played for England after he'd moved to Oldham. In fact Abe Ashworth's move from Mossley to Werneth was one of the contributing factors to the split.

Mossley accused the Oldham side of paying him to play for them (a strict no-no in the amateur game) and an investigation by Lancashire RU revealed that Werneth had offered him a new job as an iron dresser on £1-7s-0d, an increase on the £1 he was earning as a weft carrier in the Mossley mills. Ashworth was banned sine die and Werneth were suspended. After a huge outcry though the suspensions were lifted and the ball towards full professionalism in the sport began rolling.

A regular fixture around this time was Mossley vs. Oldham but in 1893, after the last few meetings had 'degenerated into a roughhouse', Oldham refused to play Mossley again. Other clubs then took Oldham's lead and soon there was next to no opposition for Mossley to play against; a situation that forced them to turn to association football.

It's at this point now, over 100 years later, that I'm thinking we should maybe re-embrace our heritage and make a return to the oval ball game. I'm no fan of rugby union but because games in that sport only last 80 minutes there's a chance that we might start to pick up the odd win or draw; as for the second week running (and the sixth time this season) Mossley conceded a late, late goal that affected the ultimate outcome of a game. Not only that but as kicking the ball out of touch is considered to be something of an art form in union, we should be able to flipping well excel in it.

The FA Trophy tie at Cammel Laird was always going to be a tough one but I don't think any of the large number of travelling supporters (boosting Laird's gate to their highest of the season - 190) realised how difficult Mossley would make it for themselves. Far from trying to keep the ball and dictate the pace of the game possession was constantly being surrendered.

Despite having a forward line that would struggle to pass the height requirements for all the good rides at Alton Towers (even if one stood on the shoulders of the other and wore a long coat) Mossley were continually launching the ball high down the middle of the field; at least that is on the occassions that it wasn't being booted out of play for a throw-in under the pretence that it was a pass designed to bring our two wingers in to the game.

The Wirral side did have a raw approach towards winning the ball but it was backed up by some neat passing and off-the-ball movement and it didn't take them long to figure out how to hurt Mossley (i.e. run at us, as far to the left hand side of the field as possible). For twenty minutes Mossley were looking second best in all areas of the field but thankfully Laird's prolific forward line was being thwarted by a combination of poor crosses and the close attention of the Lilywhite's central defensive duo.

That's not to say that there weren't moments that made the travelling support draw a deep intake of breath. Lairds managed to get the ball in the net once only to see their celebrations cut short by the raised flag of the assistant referee and they appeared to have a strong claim for a penalty when number nine Cooke was upended just inside the area by Melford Knight.

Just past the midway point of the first period the roles were reversed as the good side of Mossley's performance schizophrenia put in an appearance and with their first bit of football in the entire match, they took the lead. The build up to the goal was superb (Peter Wright backheeling the ball to James Turley who in turn set up Melford Knight on the edge of the box) but the finale to it was pure slapstick. The Mossley captain appeared to have scuffed his shot slightly and as the ball bobbled toward the goal the Laird keeper, Peter Crookes ,made a complete hash of a simple save, spilling it into the path of David Eyres who made no mistake in rolling the ball into the open net.

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo (trying to focus properly with a digital camera on something moving is pretty difficult) but this David Eyres ready to pounce on the keepers mistake and give Mossley the lead.

Suddenly it looked as if the Premier Division side had turned up and minutes later Eyres was denied a second from a free-kick when Crookes made a great diving save, only to almost ruin it instantly by juggling the ball into his own net in an attempt to get it under control. In fact everytime the ball went near the Lairds keeper you were guaranteed a moment of high comedy as his attempts to catch the ball increasingly resembled that of someone trying to hold onto a hot potato. James Turley and Peter Wright went close to doubling Mossley's advantage just before the break but the visitors just couldn't convert their dominance into what mattered - goals.

Crookes scrambles to stop Eyres's free-kick from sneaking in. A moment also being caught for posterity by Smiffy behind the goal

The second half began with an injured Turley being replaced by Fraser Robinson; a substitution that raised a few eyebrows when, with a forward on the bench, the debutant midfielder lined up alongside Peter Wright in attack. That's not to slight Robinson's contribution to the game though as the young Australian's (imaginatively nicknamed Oz) performance was the one brightspot for Mossley in a half which grew worse with each passing minute.

Instead of starting the second period in the manner they finished the first Mossley sat deep, basically handing Cammell Laird an invitation to attack them and within the space 13 minutes they'd RSVPed with a goal. Taking full advantage of the space available on the left hand side of the Lilywhite's defence and the inability of anyone in a white shirt to go and meet him once he entered the box, Jamie McGuire took his time time lining up a shot before firing it across Danny Trueman and into the corner of the net.

Boosted by the goal, the home side started to really impose themselves on the game once more and but for some fine stops by Danny Trueman and a clearance of the goal line they would have been out of sight by the time Mossley managed their first shot in anger of the half - Chris Ward firing high and wide from the edge of the box.

The reactions of Peter Wright mirror those of the Mossley fans on the terraces as Chris Ward's effort hits the perimeter fence. A situation a Cammel Laird defender attempts to lighten by playing 'I'm a little teapot.'

Even though I've been fairly optimistic at matches this season the longer the game wore on the more obvious it was becoming that the best Mossley could hope for would be a draw and a replay back at Seel Park the following Tuesday. Unfortunately the sides inability to concentrate for ninety minutes meant that we were looking for something else to fill a blank midweek night with.

You've probably read elsewhere about the free-kick awarded to Cammell Laird which led to their winner five minutes from time but whether it was incorrectly given or not is neither here nor there. The fact is that between the kick being awarded and the ball entering our net, more than a minute had elapsed (ample time for other factors having a more immediate impact on events) and a free-kick for your opponents ten yards inside their own half is not a goal scoring opportunity.

The kick was both high and long and from the sidelines we could see that the ball was being played out to the Cammell Laird player wide on the left. Despite the ball being in the air long enough for somebody to close down the intended recipient or at least make a challenge before it hit the ground no one did. The Laird player brought it down and controlled it - under no pressure; he moved towards the byline - under no pressure; he stopped and looked up - under no pressure; he fired in the cross - under no pressure. By this point the attack had had managed to shake off their markers and there were white shirts all over the place as the home side worked the opening which Ronnie Morgan finished.

None of the events contained in the above paragraph is the referee's fault, it's Mossley's. just as it has been in too many other games to mention this season already.

Mossley were given the opportunity to salvage something out of the game in injury time when Robinson was brought down five yards outside the Laird box. However everyone associated with the visitors could only watch open mouthed as Rob Edwards wasted the chance by hitting the ball along the ground and straight into the Laird wall, allowing the home side to keep possession for what little time there was left.

The final whistle was met with a silent anger from the travelling faithful; many visibly biting their lips at seeing the chances of a good cup run disappear thanks to problems that have been evident to anyone who's watched the side since August.

Out of the two major cup competitions and struggling in the league where we've won only four out of seventeen fixtures, where do we go from here other than into a long, hard winter campaign?

Cammell Hump

Unfortunately a report on the FA Trophy game won't be posted on the blog for a day or two, so apologies to anyone who's visited expecting to see one. In the meantime why not follow links at the side of this page to Mossleyweb, SixTameSides and Simon's Mossley blog to see what they say about what happened.

Chip Wrappers: 03/11/2006

Where else to start this week but on the backpage of The Reporter where the Ashton United chairman John Milne is giving his backing to manager Scott Green. 'Milne angrily dismissed suggestions the Robins manager is under pressure' says the paper without mentioning anywhere in the article that those suggestions came from somebody at The Reporter.

In fact the whole reason for the piece is because the Ashton chairman rang up the paper to complain about comments added anonymously to a match report last week that were critical of the manager. This led to numerous angry postings on the Ashton forum slating the paper and their Stalybridge Celtic bias, which may be one of the reasons why this small section entitled 'Comment' is on the backpage:

Dave Pace's impressive Droylsden have flown the flag for Tameside football this season. Leading the way in the Nationwide Conference North thanks to a super home record and exciting football, they deserve promotion this time. Forget the 5-1 defeat in the FA Cup at Kidderminster Harriers - they were still the only Tameside team to get that far.

Despite it being an exercise in stating the blindingly obvious, if Droylsden's progress in the FA Cup was such an achievement (which it was) why not give them a bit of coverage on the back page rather than this? Even though they lost, surely they deserve more prominence than the news that Stalybridge have signed yet another player, along with a preview of their Cheshire Senior cup tie? Anyway it's good to see that the paper has finally realised that the Bloods were playing Kidderminster and not Kettering as they'd have you believe throughout the entirity of last week's preview of the match.

And speaking of previews of cup matches, there's absolutely no mention of our or Ashton United's FA Trophy games this weekend - well done to all concerned! Yes, I am being sarcastic though it's my fault for expecting anything from a paper that can't even print a Unibond Premier Division league table that isn't woefully inaccurate even before going to press.

The back of the Advertiser is given over to Dave Pace's musings on his sides capitulation to Kidderminster in the FA Cup. As well as the expected comments ("One of those games that didn't go right for us") he says:

"I just want to apologise to the fans because they were fantastic. A few harsh words will be said at training because the players were getting paid to be there on Saturday while the fans paid 50 or 60 quid."

Dave Pace may have an unerring ability at times to engage his mouth before thinking but it really is a refreshing change to see a manager apologising to the fans for his sides non-performance in a defeat to a Midlands team in the FA Cup which saw them four down at half-time. Admirable indeed.

A few pages in and just above a report on the Stalybridge - Marine game (a match in which Celtic were actually playing Vauxhall), the Mossley manager is reflecting on the defeat to Ossett, ".After a tongue lashing at half-time, I got the reaction I wanted and we were very good in the second half."

We were better than in the first half (which admittedly wouldn't have taken much to achieve) but "very good"? I think that's over egging it somewhat.

Ignoring the MEN's attempts to turn the FCUB-Maine Road game into something it isn't (Ramsbottom being the Bury sides 'derby' game) I'll finish with the news that 'Pavs Patch' is back! Unfortunately it isn't in The Reporter and it's not about non-league football but I'm sure that sooner or later Mike Pavasovic's new column in the Oldham Chronicle is bound to mention the semi-pro game sooner or later

Till next week.

Off To: Cammell Laird

It's a break from the trials and tribulations of our Unibond Premier League campaign this Saturday as we once again set foot on the Trophy trail, this time westwards towards Birkenhead to take on Cammell Laird.

As success stories go, they don't really get any better than Cammel Lairds recent history. After spending the best part of the last 100 years in local leagues they joined the NWCL Division Two in 2004, winning the League, League Cup and Division Two trophy in their first season. Their rapid rise continued last season when they won the NWCL Division One title and gained promotion to the Unibond First despite having six points deducted (lets have it right, you can never have been a proper NWCL team if you haven't had points deducted at some stage).

Currently Laird sit fourth in the Unibond First, six points behind leaders Stocksbridge (and realistically seven places behind us) though they do have three games in hand. In fact it would just be easier to boil things down to this: as it stands they've scored over 300 goals and only lost eight league games during their two and a bit years in the more senior echelons of the pyramid. All of which, I'm sure you'll agree, is mightily impressive if not a trifle worrying.

At least it would be if we were playing them in the league but we're not - this is wild and wacky world of the FA Trophy where anything can happen! (That's 'anything' in a football context, not 'anything' as in a game being held up by monkeys having a go kart race round the pitch context. Though we do live in hope.)

Both sides enter this first meeting between the two clubs on the back of a defeat; Lairds nine game unbeaten run came to an end at home to Prescot last Tuesday in the League Cup whilst the less said about Mossley's game at Ossett the better.

Prediction: At this stage of the competition last year Mossley went to Gresley and came back with superb 4-1 win so who's to say that we can't do it again against tough opposition? Well me for one as I think this will be a creditable draw for Mossley, giving them the opportunity to claim the £2000 prize money at Seel Park on Tuesday.

Breaking News: 01/11/2006