Witton Albion 2 - 1 Mossley

Just short of eight months after it all started, Brunnhilde's finished expressing her delight at being reunited with Siegfried and the audience are eyeing one another anxiously in an attempt to beat the stampede to the taxi rank outside the theatre. It's over.

It was always going to be a tough ask to come away from Witton Albion with the win needed to keep our slim hopes of avoiding the drop alive. And despite a spirited performance from Mossley that was worthy of a point at the very least, a defeat to the Champions Elect, along with results at various other clubs up and down the country, has condemned Mossley to life in a Unibond First Division next season.

Despite starting the match the brighter of the two sides, continually pressuring a nervy looking Witton side into making mistakes, it was Mossley's Steve Wilson though who was the first keeper to be called into action. A through ball caught the visitors defence square and Wilson blocked Mike Moseley's effort close to the edge of his penalty area before Steven Shiel mopped up the loose ball.

The best chance of the half though fell to Mossley. Clive Moyo-Modise was put clean through on goal but the closer he got to the Witton box, the slower he got and as reached the edge of the area his options ran out, the ball became trapped under his feet giving the defence the opportunity to crowd him out and reclaim possession.

Albion's only other effort of note was a shot that went high and wide before the Lilywhites saw the half out as they'd started it - pressing their hosts back and winning a series of corners and free-kicks around the box. However, Kennedy in the Witton goal remained under employed as only a header from Furnival that flew a good foot over the cross bar came close to giving him something to do other than collect crosses and take goal kicks.

News of Ashton's lead at home to Lincoln took some enjoyment off the half-time mood but Mossley's improved display, coupled with Witton's nervy and sloppy performance, gave some hope that we wouldn't be heading back along the M56 empty handed. It didn't last long. Two minutes into the second half Mike Moseley lost his marker at a free kick and had the simple task of heading in at the far post to give his side the lead. Yet another goal to add the list of ones conceded before the half-time tea cups have gone cold.

To Mossley's credit though they immediately went in search of an equaliser and the pressure they exerted eventually paid off eight minutes after going behind. Another Mossley attack appeared to be heading down a cul-de-sac when three Witton defenders closed Steve Burke down as soon as he received the ball on the edge of Albion's box. But as the tackles came in the ex-Bury man produced a superb turn that worked an opening for a shot and after steadying himself he placed the ball low past Kennedy and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Steve Burke (out of shot) puts Mossley level.

It was no more than Mossley deserved and as one of the extraordinarily small band of travelling supporters pointed out, the Witton's players body language was that of a side who looked beaten and not level with over half an hour to go. Mossley's propensity for blowing a lower appendage clean off with a shotgun can never be discounted and not long after drawing level they practically gifted the home side the lead.

Under no pressure at all Mossley sloppily conceded possession in midfield and allowed Witton to attack down their left wing. The resultant cross to the near post could best be described as poor but a disaster that looked to have been averted suddenly honed back into view as Steve Wilson spilled the ball. The Mossley keepers attempts to recover only succeeded in pushing the ball to Warlow on the edge of the six yard box and with a virtually open goal to aim at he took his side one step closer to the title.

Wilson or a defender on the line (it was hard to tell from our vantage point) stopped Witton from putting the result of the game beyond all reasonable doubt before Mossley rallied once again. But with the home side defending in increased numbers it was difficult for the Whites to get a clear sight of goal and time and again a shot was either blocked, charged down or deflected off for a corner.

It was following a corner that Mossley had strong claims for a penalty turned down as Jonathan Smith was dragged to the ground before he could jump to meet the cross. Whether the referee didn't see it, believed it to be an innocuous challenge or realised that with our record at penalties we'd just be wasting valuable equaliser finding time is something that will be forgotten in the annals of time.

What won't be though is how close we came to salvaging a point in the final minutes of the match. James Turley picked up the ball twenty yards out and curled an effort through a crowded Witton penalty area that agonisingly bounced back off the upright with Kennedy rooted to the spot.

Everyone can only watch as the ball comes back off the post.

And so our fight for survival ends. Not with a bang but certainly not with a whimper either. A few more performances like this one and the one against Fleetwood ten days ago would undoubtedly have seen us finish the season a few league places higher up. It also goes to show after certain comments this week that the players assembled are good enough. Just maybe it was the workman and not the tools...

Admittedly we were helped by an edgy looking Witton side. I could make a sly comment about them looking anything other than title winning material but in doing so, it would be remiss of me to recall that at this stage last year we were hardly ripping up trees as we didn't so much stumble over the line but got carried over it by Shepshed Dynamo.

It would be nice to end the report by saying there was enough on show in this game to give hope for next season but the likelihood is that few, if any, of the players who turned out today will still be with us. Which is a shame really as contrary to one persons opinion at least, there's the basis of a good side at the club waiting to be moulded.