Rossendale United 1 - 2 Mossley

The sky seems bluer, the grass greener and the sun warmer. In fact life has a soft focus glow about it. Why?


It was finally back to winning ways for Mossley as two first half goals and an industrious display, coupled with a fair old dolloping of guile, was enough to condemn fifth placed Rossendale to their second defeat of the season.

It's been a season and a bit since we last visited Rossendale and the pace has changed quite a bit. Not the ground (though it does now sport a snazzy pair of dugouts) but the town itself.

Despite their being the presence of a fairly large Tesco's in its centre, the local authorities have seen fit to allow Asda to build a whopping great eyesore not 400 yards away from it. And if that wasn't enough there's an adjacent two level car park that appears to have been designed with the brief to make it look as cheap as possible without it blending in to the surrounding area in any shape whatsoever.

A hearty congratulations as well to those responsible for the highways by giving traffic entering and leaving this new shrine to Mammon priority on a busy A road. One can only wonder what the place will be like next season when the business/retail/leisure park being built on the edge of town is open. Still, as long as the powers that be get their pound of flesh who cares about local communities? Anyway, rant over and back to the football.

Mossley's opener in the 12th minute was just reward for an early spell of pressure that had already seen them twice go close to establishing a lead. A flowing move down the left involving Lee Blackshaw and Gareth Hamlet won Mossley a corner that played to the far post by Paul Quinn. Lee Connor looped the ball back across the goalmouth towards a melee of players in front of the Rossendale goal where Martin Allison rose highest to head into the net.

At times Mossley's approach play was a joy to watch but like their hosts who were getting into some good positions themselves at the other end of the field, shots on or near the target were at a premium. The best chance fell to the visitors when Paul Garvey robbed a dallying Turner of the ball, setting in motion a move that ended with Paul Quinn somehow managing to clear the crossbar from a matter of yards.

When the referee signalled two minutes to be added on to the end of the first half, there were some bemused looks exchanged between the spectators as there had been no stoppages of note. The sizeable contingent of travelling supporters were left with no cause to complain though as Mossley used the 'phantom' time to increase their lead. The ball was worked out to the left where Blackshaw effortlessly beat two defenders with a drop of the shoulder on the corner of the box and a third as he made his towards goal. Stopping to weigh up his options he played the ball across the six yard box and Quinn stabbed it past Lee Bracey after reacting quickest to Gareth Hamlet's blocked effort.

As expected Rossendale took the game to Mossley straight from the restart and like the first half they showed a distinct lack of composure whenever they got within sight of the Lilywhite's penalty area; a flaw in their ambitions to rescue the game that was epitomised in the 54th minute. Mossley fell asleep after a set-piece around their host's penalty area broke down, leaving Ashley Connor and full-back Matthew Butters to face a four man counter attack. Ignoring the time, space and support around him, Stag's centre forward Zarac bizarrely chose to shoot from around thirty five yards out, much to his manager's, team mate's and supporter's (many of whom who were sent ducking for cover by his wayward effort) audible displeasure.

Just to briefly go off on a tangent (yes, again), where were Rossendale's supporters? The official crowd figure was 122 was the poorest I can remember for a game at Dark Lane and if it hadn't been for the Mossley fans in attendance I doubt that the gate would have been even half that. It was quite eerie really and a flashback to our NWCL days when the dog and its owner at places like Atherton Collieries and Great Harwood got enochlophobic. Maybe they've all been press-ganged into packing bags at Asda...

It was only with the introduction of the diminutive Redshaw that Rossendale found a cutting edge to their otherwise blunt attack and with twenty minutes of the second half gone he forced Ashley Connor into his first real save (and a good one it was too) of the afternoon.

Mossley appeared to have weathered the storm when Hamlet and Allison both went close to adding a third for the visitors within the space of a minute, but with little over quarter of an hour left their grip on the three points was loosened as Redshaw popped up on the edge of the box to drive the ball past Ashley Connor and into the top right hand corner of the net.

The goal, naturally, appeared to rock Mossley a little and for a short period their play began to get a little raggedy but the grandstand finish that home supporters were now expecting didn't materialise. Instead Mossley regained their composure and control of the game and began to exploit the huge gaps starting to appear in the Rossendale defence, carving out numerous chances to make the victory a more emphatic one before the referee called time with his whistle.

Mossley's performance was light years ahead of their display seen seven days previously where they'd come a distant second to an ordinary Woodley side. It also showed just how much we quality we have to call upon when we're not launching the ball mortar-like down the centre of the pitch. There was still a few apparent rough edges but to highlight these and take attention away from an otherwise impressive performance would be churlish.

It's true that Rossendale may have grabbed something out of the game if they'd put more effort into doing important things, like getting the odd shot on target for instance, instead of haranguing the referee for non-existent free-kicks everytime they lost the ball or an opponent got within 15 yards of them but Mossley were well worth the win.

The question now is to whether Mossley can reproduce this kind of form over the coming weeks and months, especially at home where it's been almost six months since the non-travelling supporters last saw a Mossley side claim a point, let alone three. Hopefully by 16:50 next Saturday that will have changed.