Mossley 0 - 0 Skelmersdale United

Skelmersdale win 6 - 5 on penalties

There is an old adage that goes something along the lines of 'good games fly by in the blink of an eye whilst the bad ones seem to go on forever.'

If I say that this match felt like it lasted a dozen lifetimes, does that give those of you who didn't attend a clue as to the quality of it?

In a season of poor performances in the knock-out competitions, Mossley saved their worst till last as they bowed of the President's Cup on penalties in a dire encounter against Skelmersdale United, who themselves weren't much better.

As the match wore (and bore) on, it was hard to believe that you were watching the same two sides who were responsible for one of the best games seen at Seel Park for quite some time, just over a fortnight earlier; that they could produce something that was the polar opposite in terms of entertainment was quite staggering.

The first half was on its way to being a total non-event before it finally sprang in to life in injury time. In charging off his goal line to try and beat Leadbetter in the chase for the ball, Ashley Connor arrived a second too late and in doing so took the Skelmersdale wingers legs out from under him. The Mossley keeper made amends for his error though by producing a superb one handed stop, low to his left, to keep out Steven Akrigg's effort from the spot.

Things were marginally better after the break, particularly if you were a Skelmersdale supporter. Though possession was shared equally, Mossley continued to labour as an attacking threat whilst the visitors became more productive. Akrigg headed over when he should have at least tested Ashley Connor's reactions and John Cass saw his shot beat Ashley Connor but not his namesake Lee who headed off the line.

When Nicky Thompson marked his return to the club by clearing another United attack out from underneath the Mossley crossbar, it appeared that it was only going to be a matter of time before Skelmersdale took the lead.

But with 13 minutes left, Mossley finally posed their first threat on their opponents goal and went agonisingly close to putting a foot into the next round. A free-kick was whipped in from the right by Paul Quinn and Lee Connor met the ball with a bullet header that flew narrowly wide of the left hand upright.

Unfortunately it proved to be a one-off and the Lilywhites once again had their keeper to thank for the scores remaining level as the ninety minutes drew towards a conclusion; Connor twice producing good saves from Tony Evans.

As extra-time loomed Evans was presented with perfect opportunity to finally beat Ashley Connor. Unmarked in front of the Mossley goal and with the ball at his feet, he produced an utterly woeful shot which guaranteed that the game would be extended by another 30 minutes. Something which at Halloween proved quite fitting, given that the prospect of another half hour of similar fare had been scaring the supporters senseless in the latter stages of normal time

And it's only through Michael Duffy missing another golden opportunity for Skelmersdale with six minutes to go, that those additional periods of play warrant any mention at all, being so devoid of incident that they might well have not taken place.

All of which meant that after two hours of football, it was now down to a penalty shoot-out to separate the sides.

The visitors got the proceedings under way with McConville firing past Ashley Connor, before it was immediately cancelled out by an absolute howitzer from James Riordan that ripped the bottom of the netting from its moorings; the Lilywhites first shot on target in the entire game. Evans' night in a front of a goal continued to be a fruitless one as Connor denied him for one last time in the game but whatever advantage it gave Mossley was short lived as Lowe kept out Michael Fish's follow-up penalty.

Both sides then went on to trade successful spot kicks until, in round seven, Richard Conway Chris Waddled his shot high and wide to leave the converted penalty from Tom Hardwick that had preceded it as the goal that won the game.

Overall, on the balance of chances created, the better team probably ended up winning, but it doesn't stop Mossley's final attempt at extending the season beyond the remaining league fixtures from being any less of a disappointment.

Whilst the loss of Paul Garvey early in the first half through injury certainly didn't help Mossley's cause, neither did pumping the ball down the centre of the pitch; a tactic that left Hamlet and Fish running themselves into the ground in the hope of capitalising on whatever meagre scraps the dominant Skelmersdale centre halves occasionally left them with.

It was therefore no surprise that Mossley's serious attempts on goal amounted to one solitary header from a set-piece. That's not to say that they didn't create some promising openings, they did, but the absence of that telling final ball, numbers in the box or a lack of movement meant that things quickly fizzled out.

Still, at least we got to see the Lilywhites take part in a penalty shoot-out for the first time in a competitive game but that proved to be a hollower experience than I expected. Maybe what had gone on before had a detrimental effect on my enthusiasm, or it was the ludicrous decision by the man in the middle to use the goal at the opposite end to where everyone was stood (including the Skelmersdale supporters), but the shoot-out turned out to be a peculiarly unexciting affair.

Not to worry though as it wasn't all doom and gloom. We did learn that we can score from the spot, so all's not lost the next time we're awarded a penalty during a match. And despite the heart-in-mouth moments we looked reasonably solid at the back too.

All that we really seemed to be lacking was that spark we had in the previous game against Skelmersdale and the Ossett and Rossendale matches. Hopefully we'll rediscover it in time for Garforth Town's visit on Saturday, enabling us to push for an entry into what could be our sixth knock-out competition of the season: the play-offs.