Mossley 2 - 0 Radcliffe Borough

After one postponement it was finally time for Mossley and Radcliffe, two teams who've practically been permanent fixtures in the Unibond League's basement places, to meet. Not so much a Clash of the Titans but something that rhymes with it.

Unsurprisingly the opening stages of the game were a cautious affair but slowly Mossley began to control possession and create chances. The first fell to Clive Moyo-Modise but instead of hitting the ball first time as it dropped on to the penalty spot, he tried to bring it under control allowing Radcliffe to get enough bodies back to block the shot when it eventually came.

Whilst Mossley's wing play was causing the visitors no end of problems Radcliffe were the ones to try and trouble the scoreline next when Matty O'Neill had an effort that comfortably stopped by Danny Trueman. The home side continued to control the majority of the game though and the pressure finally paid off in the 20th minute. After receiving James Turley's pass with his back to goal, Moyo-Modise flicked it over his and his markers head before firing a low shot past a static Dittmer.

Borough came close to an equalizer a few minutes later when an inswinging free-kick from Mossley's left beat everyone but not the crossbar. However the visitors should have been level moments later when good work by Fitzpatrick gave Jamie Miller the chance to put the ball into the back of the net, only for the Radcliffe number nine to somehow scoop the ball over a virtually open goal from three yards. Credit where it's due though, better players than him couldn't have done that.

Happily the rest of the half belonged to Mossley, aided and abetted by the Bury sides peculiar tactic of continually backing off as the Lilywhites came forward. M&M took advantage of this quirk in Radcliffe's defending by cutting in from the right wing and beat three men on his way to the touchline before thundering a shot into the side netting. A succession of chances then came and went before Jonathan Smith had a perfectly good goal ruled out. After meeting the ball powerfully with his head, Smith's downward trajectory took him into a Radcliffe defender who'd reacted to the corner in the manner that West Country folk do when they see a plane (i.e. standing still and looking skywards with their mouths agape); the referee somehow interpreting this inability to combat the laws of physics as a foul.

Captain Smith in the process of "scoring" and "fouling".

There was only one minor stoppage for a player to be treated during the first period, and it certainly didn't take more than ten seconds to throw a replacement ball on to the pitch after Grant had managed to head the match ball over the Bus Shelter Stand, so where the five minutes of time the referee added on at the end of the first half came from is anyone's guess. What it did do though was give Mossley another opportunity to double their lead before the interval. Breaking quickly from a rare Radcliffe corner, James Turley carried the ball from the edge of one box to the other before feeding the ball to M&M; the Rochdale loanee's second goal of the game denied by a good save from Dittmer.

The second was by a comparison a duller affair with decent opportunities for both sides few and far between. Borough substitute Lee Hendley (complimenting Radcliffe's all yellow kit with boots that made it look like he was wearing a pair of slip-on bananas) produced a superb mazy run not long after the restart that took him from the left wing to Mossley's six yard box. As he closed in on goal you could see him constantly looking up for support but with none forthcoming he was forced to go alone and Trueman's save was probably more comfortable than it should have been.

Mossley effectively put the game beyond Radcliffe's reach in the 70th minute with a well worked team goal. Melford Knight's header in the middle of the pitch fell to Steve Burke and after advancing up the pitch and drawing two defenders, the ex-Bury man found his strike partner with an inch perfect diagonal pass. M&M's first touch wasn't the greatest but he managed to recover and beat Dittmer in the chase for the loose ball before lifting it over the Radcliffe keeper and into the back of the net.

Steven Burke shepherds Mossley's second into the net and (below) Clive Double-M receives the congratulations of his team mates.

Joel Pilkington cleared a rare on-target effort from Radcliffe off the line and Whealing did the same for the visitors to keep out a Smith header before the game petered out as a contest. However, despite the cold weather on pitch temperatures began to flair and Radcliffe's Fitzpatrick brothers can consider themselves fortunate to have only picked up a booking apiece for two cynical challenges from behind; Lee Fitzpatrick in particular for a horrible "tackle" that forced Joe Shaw to limp out of the game.

Jonathan Smith about to have a goal bound effort scooped off the line.

It's not a match that will live long in the memory of the small crowd who witnessed it (without looking at the actual figure, the attendance was the worst I've seen for a league game at Seel Park in years) but it's first part of Mossley's 'guaranteed' six points completed with Grantham to come in eleven days time.

Radcliffe weren't strong opponents but you can only beat what's put in front of you and Mossley did it pretty comfortably. Danny Trueman and the four men directly in front of him did a solid and professional job whilst ahead of them Mossley showed more creativity and flair than they've done for quite a while. As good a win as it was though I'm not naive enough to think that the corner has been turned and we're looking at the dawn of a new era that sees us sweep all before us as we march to safety, but at least it's a start.