Mossley 1 - 2 Frickley Athletic

When the season started the pre-match music played over the PA system consisted of bouncy pop songs, perfectly catching the upbeat feeling of the supporters on the return to the Unibond Premier Division. October and November's patchy (or Apache) performances however were the cue for the Shadow's greatest hits to get an airing. No, I can't fathom out why either.

Come December though and all attempts to remain optimistic are fading fast as, five minutes before the teams come out, 'Welcome to the Black Parade' by My Chemical Romance blares out across the pitch. As good a tune as it may be (really, it is) the last thing you need when watching Mossley at the moment is a song about death that includes the lyrics "the broken, the beaten and the damned" and "misery and hate will kill us all" no matter how in tune with the supporters feelings it may be.

Bring back Abba and Super Trouper I say.

Hopes of a turnaround in recent fortunes were lifted when the home side started well. The returning James Turley and Chris Ward were having plenty of joy down the right hand side but, other than few half chances, the Lilywhite's were struggling to break through a very well organised Frickley defence. Occasionally visiting keeper Jon Hood would be forced to push away a cross or shot but for most of the time Mossley's attack was like watching the wolf trying to blow down the house belonging to the third little pig.

Pressure means nothing unless you can do something with it though and Mossley's ineffectiveness in their opponents penalty area was punished midway through the first half. A rare break up the pitch by Frickley saw them take advantage of the wide open spaces our defence frequently affords the opposition; a move that culminated in Lilywhite's debutant centre half Jonathon Smith making an ill-advised challenge on Tracey just inside the box.

From the vantage point of the Bus Shelter Stand it appeared that no contact had been made, opinion from elsewhere in the ground said there was but that's football - things often look different depending on where you're stood. For example, if you're watching things from the dugout we've only played two and a half bad matches this season.

Paul Palmer stepped up to take the resultant penalty and calmly dispatched the ball past Danny Trueman to give The Blues the lead. Five minutes later it was two and Mossley's molehill had become a mountain.

Another atypical Mossley defensive howler brought about by our teams inability to communicate with one another allowed Frickley's number nine Mark Ward to break down the right. Cutting in to the corner of the box he unleashed an astonishing curling shot that bent round Trueman, and two other defenders that had managed to get back, to nestle in the bottom left corner of the goal. It may have been a strike that would put the game beyond Mossley but even the home fans had to applaud the effort.

With a two goal lead comfortably under their belts Frickley were more than content to sit back and soak up whatever Mossley's attack could throw at them. And for fifteen minutes either side of the interval they were able to do so without even working up so much as a sweat.

Thankfully that changed when the introductions of Steve Burke and Lee Shillitoe (the latter at the expense of an unfortunate Christian Cooke who'd picked up an injury in a battling midfield role), and the positional reshuffle it necessitated, put some life back into the corpse that was Mossley as an attacking unit. Suddenly Frickley were being made to work for their three points.

James Turley dropped a free-kick onto the crossbar, Peter Wright brought a flying save out of Hood and Steve Burke saw an effort headed off the line after Hood had finally been beaten. The sustained spell of pressure paid off with quarter of an hour to go when Peter Wright finally managed to lose his marker and slip the ball under Hood to halve the deficit.

Even with the dismissal of Gary Furnival on 80 minutes (his two yellow cards both shown for pulling back an opponent who'd beaten him for speed) Mossley continued to press in search of an equalizer. And with seven minutes remaining on the clock, a defenders attempt to use Peter Wright as a step ladder gave them the chance to draw level from the spot. Up stepped Chris Ward and down went Jon Hood to his left to push the ball away and preserve Frickley's lead.

Through the murk you just make out the hopes of Mossley's supporters about to be dashed for another week.

The referee may as well have whistled for full time there and then as the miss (the Lilywhite's third from the spot this season) not only blew the wind out of Mossley's sails but chopped the mast into firewood too. As what little time there was left slowly ebbed away, the visitors once again reasserted their stranglehold in defence, leaving Mossley with not even scraps to feed on in an an effort to salvage a point.

It goes without saying that we deserved something out of this game. Unfortunately you aren't rewarded in football for pressure and possession, only goals, so Frickley head back to South Yorkshire with all three points having done nothing more than take their chances when they arose and defended stoutly. No doubt there'll be the usual claims about a lack of luck but the reality is that it's skill, resilience and nous that we need to win matches. No team three places and three points off the bottom of the league by the midway point of a season have been there because they've been 'unlucky.'

It's not all bad news though, the points we should have got helps us to strengthen our position in the imaginary league our manager has us in fourth place in.

Let's hope that the improvement seen yesterday isn't another false dawn because if it is another line in Black Parade will start to become increasingly more pertinent: "the underworld is waiting."