Woodley Sports 1 - 1 Mossley

Leaving Garforth after the first match of the season I wondered if it was possible to get any wetter whilst watching a football match. It may have been nothing more than an idle thought but I was hoping for a slightly longer gap than two weeks before Mother Nature answered, “Yes!”

The word torrential doesn’t come close to describing the non-stop barrage of rain that turned what should have been an exciting FA Cup encounter between two local-ish rivals into a soggy slog. Not so much Cheadle as Cheadle Flume.

I don’t wish to over exaggerate (okay, maybe a little) but if a player had gone down needing treatment they’d have sent on a lifeboat rather than a physio. Although to be fair, if they had sent on someone with a sponge it’s highly likely that, before they’d got even halfway towards their destination, the sponge would have expanded to a size that could have caused problems for the planes coming in to land at Ringway

Ideally the following report would contain a more accurate account of events but even if I’d have bothered to take note of the few moments of incident I’d now be sat trying to decipher a lump of papier mache.

Unsurprisingly both sides struggled to come to terms with the conditions and chances were a lot like adequate shelter from the elements at the Park Road Stadium: sadly lacking.

The ‘home’ side were certainly the busier of the two teams, be it attacking or keeping the officials ears warm. If whinging was an Olympic sport Woodley would undoubtedly be challenging Bradford Park Avenue to represent Britain next summer in Beijing. Every tackle they lost, every time Mossley beat their shoddily aligned offside trap… in fact I don’t think that there was a point in the game that they didn’t find something, spurious or not, to moan at the referee and his assistants about.

No, I tell a lie, there was one point: when they scored.

Midway through the opening half Matthew Butters misjudged a tackle and the ball zipped beneath him allowing Mario Bryan the opportunity a free run down the right. The former Rochdale player though chose to whip in an impressive first time cross that not only caught the Mossley defence cold but landed inch perfectly on the head of an unmarked Robinson who powered the ball past Ashley Connor. And to be fair to Woodley, on the balance of play it was probably a deserved lead.

They continued to press forward and on more than one occasion Ashley Connor had to come to his side’s assistance as Mossley’s back line became increasingly stretched by Sports’ pace an movement off the ball. As the half drew towards a close though Mossley finally started to ask a few questions of the 'home' defence by giving their front two something to work with.

Kitson Gayle went incredibly close to levelling the game with a shot from the corner of the box that had Liam Higginbotham in the Woodley goal pulling all sorts of shapes in order to cope with the swerve that was on it. Level it they did though as the interval approached.

Paul Garvey fired a free-kick from the left across the face of the Woodley goal and from amongst a mêlée of players at the back post, Richard Conway managed to apply a touch that sent the ball into the back of the net.

If the first half belonged to Woodley, the second belonged to Mossley. Like their hosts in the previous period though they were struggling to convert possession into chances. Gareth Hamlet went close with a header that looped over the bar and David Wallace shot wide after a bursting run into the box but with the weather somehow managing to get even worse, it rapidly became a test of endurance for players and supporters rather than a football match.

In the last five minutes the match burst into a modicum of life. A Woodley break caught Mossley's defence at sixes and sevens and the ball made its way to the feet of Watson unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. However, instead of applying a finish that probably would have won his side the match he stood stock still and watched as the ball hit his leg and rolled off harmlessly for a goal kick.

Mossley responded by almost forcing a Woodley defender into putting a cross into his own net and with the referee putting the whistle to his mouth to signal full-time, Wallace brought a game saving stop out of Higginbotham.

Not the best of games (and some would argue that it didn't meet the standards needed to be described as below average) but a draw was probably the fairest result and both sides survive to do it all again in what will likely be better conditions at Seel Park. I bet you thought you'd never see that - people expecting the weather to be better at Mossley! Credit to Mossley though for clawing their way back into a game that at one stage looked to be going one way.

I'd like to finish by congratulating the person who decided that this fixture should be staged at Cheadle. Sorry, did I say I’d like to congratulate? What I meant was I’d like to grab them by the lapels and shake them whilst screaming “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”

In a fixture that regularly attracts a good 200+ crowd, the one thing the ground wasn’t awash with was spectators. But that’s the price you pay though when you not only choose to play the game on a Sunday but at an out of the way place too. Cheadle Town may not be in the back of beyond but you can certainly see it from there.

That’s being a tad unfair on Woodley though. The real problem lies with the people who run football in this country. Why, when you can play every other game on it, can’t you play an FA Cup on an artificial surface? Apparently the FA believe it’s better to have their prestige cup competition played at a ground with no turnstiles, a minimal amount of cover and a perimeter fence around its grass cutting strewn pitch that was having its paint washed off by the rain.

With this and things like the Wembley fiasco and the Tevez affair, you begin to realise that the national game is being run by people who couldn't make the door fall off a clown's car.