Mossley 0 - 4 Gateshead

The saying goes that there's a first time for everything and that was certainly true on Saturday. You don't often get introduced to new experiences in the world of non-league football (other than for a club's toilet facilities to find another way to offend various senses) so the feeling of happiness that washed over me as I left Seel Park following Mossley's defeat to Gateshead was a peculiar sensation.

Before the cries of "You're not a fan if you want us to lose" start though, let me explain. I wasn't happy because we lost and moved yet another step closer to the Unibond First Division, I was happy because we only lost by four goals in a game where our opponents could (and should) have racked up double figures. However, thanks to Gateshead's 'cow, bum and banjo flailing' shooting we were only on the end of an embarrassing result, rather than the absolutely frickin' ridiculous one that was constantly being threatened.

I'd like to go into detail about all the chances Gateshead spurned but as it would mean me sitting here from now until twenty minutes past the apocalypse (the Grim Reapers scythe is pointing at the four) I won't bother. So keeping things concise...

Gateshead too the lead in the 4th minute when a sloppy pass from David Eyres found Nelthorpe in oceans of space on the right wing. After moving from the halfway line to an area level with the Mossley six yard box without anyone in a white shirt getting within 15 yards of him, the number 11 fired a low cross to the back post where Slavin had no trouble in putting the ball into an empty net. That advantage was doubled in almost similar circumstances twenty minutes later. More sloppy play, another run up the left wing from Nelthorpe, another cross and another virtually open goal, this time for Southern to put the ball into.

An everyday scene at non-league football: two teams, a shot flying wide, expectant fans and an eight foot goat.

That's not say that Gateshead had it all their own way during the first half. On no less than two occasions Mossley had the ball in the back of the Geordies net. The first, with less than a minute of the game on the clock, was correctly ruled out for a handball earlier in the move. The second one should have stood but was thanks to a linesman who appeared to have no concept of the basics of the offside law the score remained 2-0 to the visitors as the sides went in at the break.

The'Heed' went three up 26 minutes into the second period when Moffat fired in from close range after more good play from Nelthorpe. The fourth and, thankfully, final goal came four minutes later when Southern tapped the ball over the line from the edge of the six yard box. Other than the events described in this and the two paragraphs above, the rest of the game consisted of Gateshead spurning chance, after chance, after chance, after chance, ad nauseum.

Moffat steadies himself for Gateshead's third.

I've no doubt that the mantra of injuries, bad luck and poor decisions from the officials will be trotted out once again (particularly in the absence of any other stories that will handily take attention away from a poor defeat this week) but the horrible and unpalatable truth was that we were a distant third in a two horse race. Yes, we have injuries but so does every other club in the world; those that win never mention them, those that never win always do. How many times has it been used in mitigation following our defeats this season? And last? And the season before that?

Having a good goal ruled out is unfortunate but there was nothing to suggest that the score line would have been different or any less emphatic had it stood. The problems that allowed Gateshead to take a two goal lead would still have been there. Plus it would be remiss of us not to remember that poor decisions do happen to go our way from time to time as well. In the last game against Leek were we fortunate not to have had two penalties awarded against us in the final few minutes. The whole thing is swings and roundabouts; only no manager ever complains when they have a go on the swing.

I'm not going to have a go at the players either. Dropped when they've been playing well, played in different positions from one week to the next - they're as much victims of the current situation as we are. Take this game for instance. We had a central midfielder at left-back, a left-back playing as a left sided midfielder and a left sided midfielder/winger in central midfield. Along side a right winger.

Undue pressure is also being put on the forward line. Because of the lack of opportunities being created for them we've got to the stage where even Thierry Henry doesn't have a goal to chances ratio that could win games for us. As for the defence, considering the amount of shuffling and reshuffling that's been done over the last few weeks, it's amazing that they're still performing as well as they are.

We have nine games left to save ourselves from the drop, a target that's eminently achievable when you look at some of the teams we've still to play and the talent that's in the squad. The big question is as to whether they can be moulded into the force that can do it over the next week or so. The evidence over the past seven months suggests not but I wouldn't bet on 'luck' swinging by Seel Park at the end of April for the second year running.

A familiar face makes a second half appearance over t'fence.


Mike Smith said...
7:38 pm

You absolute cad !!

gram77ok said...
11:19 am

ha ha ha ! get a couple of crates from the backyard of the club to stand on