Mossley 1 - 3 Marine

When I left Seel Park yesterday I had planned on basing this review of the game around a very laboured 'sub-Marine' pun. Three hours later though the intention to try and remain jocular and upbeat about things had evaporated as reports of incidents after the match started to filter in via the forum.

As I write this, if I turn my head to the left and look out of the window I can see the earth's shadow starting to edge slowly across the surface of the moon as we head towards a total lunar eclipse. And watching this "cosmic ballet" (© Leonard Nimoy in The Simpsons) I can't help but feel that it's a better analogy for Mossley at the moment than the laboured 'torpedo/divng leagues' pun I was aiming to run into the ground.

As supporters we've seen some grim times both on and off the pitch over the best part of the last quarter of a century: we've flirted with extinction, suffered relegation and been on the end of some humiliating results and embarrasing losing sequences. Even at those low points though the sizeable group of supporters who'd turn up no matter what were always a beacon in the murk. Therefore when the points been reached where some of that 'hardcore' feel they're unwelcome then you know that the dark shadows are encroaching once again only this time with less light to repel it.

However that's not talking about the match is it?

It was always going to be difficult task for Mossley to take anything off a Marine side currently flying high in the league but, having said that, a point or even three wasn't an impossibility. As Ashton were to show against Witton, taking the game to an opposition who even remotely believe that their current league standing is enough to see them win can have surprisingly pleasurable results.

Sadly, and not for the first time this season, Mossley appeared more than happy to start the game on the back foot by conceding advantage to the Liverpudlian visitors virtually from the off. Why can't the "up and at them" (© Ranier Wolfcastle as Radioactive Man in The Simpsons) spirit we need to drag ourselves towards safety not manifest itself with the first kick of the game instead of the last ten minutes of a match where we're one goal down? Having said that there was a marked improvement at the start of the second half but by that time we were already one goal down and fortunate not to be midway through the process of receiving a right hammering.

Two Blackpool supporters watch Steve Wilson's first save of what was to be a busy afternoon.

That we weren't was due in no small part to six things: 1) Steve Wilson producing a string of outstanding saves, 2) the defence (Smith and SAS in particular), 3) the woodwork, 4) poor finishing 5) an offside decision that would have made Arsene Wenger's head explode had it happened to Arsenal and 6) an opposition who appeared to switch off believing it to be too easy which, fair enough, it was.

David Eyres's free-kick is turned over by Banks and so endeths Mossley's solitary first half shot on target.

That meant that when the second period began Mossley only had Dave Eaton's 18th minute effort from a corner to cancel out and surpass. One minute into the restart and the first of those two aims came agonisingly close to being achieved when Jonathan Smith fired Gary Furnival's flick on from a corner over the bar from six yards. At least it was a signal of intent from the home side following three quarters of an hour spent acting as shooting practice for the visitors.

Two Marine players (no, it's not one with three arms) lurk unmarked at the back post ready to put their side into the lead.

Unfortunately were having trouble converting the greater amounts of possession they were now experiencing into chances leaving Steve Burke and Clive Moyo-Modise starved of the ball. But just before the hour mark, out of next to nothing, Joe Shaw executed a sublime volley from a left wing cross that sailed past Steve banks in the Marine goal bringing the scores level.

Sadly my four year old 2mp camera isn't too good at focusing on the fly but trust me, the blur above is Joe Shaw's shot heading into the net for the equaliser.

Suddenly the mood changed. Mossley had a spring in their step and the crowd's thoughts had changed from hoping we'd keep the goals against total respectable to believing that an unlikely win was within our grasps. And when M&M almost made that belief a reality minutes after Shaw's goal, forcing Banks into a good save after being presented with his first opportunity of the afternoon to run at the Marine goal, confidence appeared to be surging both off and on the terraces.

Frustratingly Mossley couldn't sustain the momentum they'd managed to build up and Marine once again slowly started to take control of the game. Though the pressure being exerted by the visitors wasn't as great as it was in the first half there was no real surprise, just sighs, when the Mariners retook the lead. A left wing cross appeared to have been dealt with when it hit Will Ryder on the arm. The referee immediately signalled for a penalty and full-back McDermott calmly put his side back in front.

Marine go back into the lead from the spot.

Mossley came close to salvaging a point came when Melford Knight's header from a corner was cleared off the line but their fate was finally sealed when Marine broke upfield from a Mossley set-piece, capitalized on a sloppy pass by the returning Andy Thackeray and substitute Noon was at the head of a queue of visiting players lining up to put the ball past Wilson - game over.

On the balance of play there's no question that Marine ran out deserved winners. In truth, particularly after that opening half, we were fortunate not to have been on the end of a thorough spanking but, on the other hand, we may have also got something unexpected out of the game had our brief revival lasted longer than fifteen minutes. Hell, what would have happened if we'd started the match at the same time Marine did?

It would be very easy to sit here and slag off the players for this and that but at times it appears that they're as stumped as we are as what system we're supposed to be playing. We had our two creative players on the wing and for the most part on the peripheries of the action. Joe Shaw seems to be playing through the pain barrier and after pulling the strings in the centre of the field for the past few games David Eyres was moved out to the left hand side and barely received a pass all game.

With the central midfield dropping further and further back to counteract Marines surges up the pitch we gave our two isolated rookie young forwards nothing to work with in order to score the goals we need - not even scraps. Despite another reshuffle through injury the back line once again did a stirling job but if you can't give them a breather for a couple of minutes then the pressure will finally tell on them.

The funny thing is that survival still isn't an impossibility. I believe we have the players that can put a run together which will enable us to start clawing the points back off Radcliffe, Leek and Kendal. The only question is whether they'll be allowed to play for the three points we need in each of these upcoming games or whether they're simpy given instructions not to lose. I know which Mossley I'd like to see.

Five minutes left and only the masochists remain.

Another look out of the window and I can see that as this report comes to an end, so is the eclipse (yes, it takes me that long to wrote these things). I can only hope that the time spent in the umbra passes just as quickly for us or else we'll be hunting around for candles for a good time to come to help us through .