Mossley 2 - 2 Garforth Town

Better late than never?

A turn of phrase that can not only be applied to this report but can equally be used to describe both Garforth's arrival at Seel Park and Mossley's belated entry into the game.

Due to an incident on the motorway half of Garforth's side were unavoidably delayed, necessitating the kick off being put back for over a quarter of an hour. When eleven of their players did take to the pitch, they did so in Mossley’s away kit from last season; theirs presumably being in the back of a car stuck somewhere around Hartshead Services.

Following a drab opening which saw the ball ping-pong between the two penalty areas, the ennui that was beginning to envelop the supporters on the terraces suddenly appeared to spread to the Mossley defence. A hit and hope ball from one of the Garforth centre halves caught full back Nicky Thompson napping, allowing the man he should have been marking, Jason St Juste, to cut in from the wing and shoot across Ashley Connor to give them the lead after twenty minutes.

Seven minutes from the break the same player was once again the beneficiary of Mossley's gift giving. For a reason that will probably remain unknown, right back Thompson and central James Riordan found themselves taking a throw-in ten yards from the Garforth corner flag, which the latter miss-controlled and in doing so, handed possession to St Juste. Taking advantage of the huge hole that was now left in Mossley's back line, the whippet like number 11 ran three quarters of the length of the pitch with no one in pursuit. His good fortune didn't end there either as his sliced attempt at a cross turned into a shot that arced over a stranded Ashley Connor and dropped into the net at the far post.

With Garforth more than happy to sit back and defend the lead, gained through what would be their only two shots on goal in the entire match, by fair means and foul, Mossley struggled to make any headway at all, and with a little under a quarter of it left to play, all they’d managed in response was an effort apiece from Michael Fish and Lee Blackshaw.

The good thing about football though is that the complexion of games can change in an instant and that’s what happened in the 72nd minute. Fish's cross from a corner was met eight yards out by the head of substitute Jamie Miller and the former Radcliffe striker powered the ball past a host of bodies and into the net. Not only did it end Mossley’s six hour plus goal drought but, more importantly, it gave them a belief that the game wasn’t beyond rescuing.

Coupled with some much needed variety to their attacking play, Mossley started to push Town further and further back towards their own goal line and the chances started to arrive with increasing regularity. In fact it was only a trebuchet and a few cauldrons of hot oil away from being a fully blown siege.

Despite the constant pressure being exerted though, and the bombardment of shots keeper Karl Spratt was having deal with, it all appeared to be a matter of too little too late. That was until, in injury time, Mossley got the stroke of luck that had been otherwise noticeable by its absence throughout the game. As the ball pinballed around the area during one of the many scrambles that occurred in the latter stages of the game, it bounced off the surface and struck Town full back Milton Turner on the hand. Instinctively appeals went up for a penalty and the referee duly obliged by pointing to the spot.

It was, from my viewpoint, something of a harsh decision but it more than made up the penalty Mossley should have been awarded in the first half when Gareth Hamlet's attempted cross was blocked by the outstretched arm of Nathan Kamara. The obviousness of the illegality that had taken place was so great that even some of the visiting players stopped in expectation of the referee’s whistle, but on a day when the rub of the green tended to favour the away side when it came to decisions, the appeals were waved away by the man in the middle.

Wait a minute! Rub of the green… this isn’t the ‘official report’ is it? It’s the ‘unofficial’ one so I can say what I mean: the referee and his two assistants were appalling. They weren’t responsible for the goals we conceded, only Mossley were to blame for them, but: the missed penalty decisions, allowing Spratt to pick up back passes, the failure to punish Town for the niggling fouls they strung together with the intent on breaking up the flow of the game and, the cherry on top of a pile of cherries, a two footed, knee high lunge on Martin Allison that didn’t even get its perpetrator a talking too let alone the red card it so richly deserved, was all down to them and them alone.

It was with some trepidation that the home supporters awaited the spot kick, not having seen their side score from one in twelve months; a year that has also encompassed five successive failed attempts. It all proved to be unnecessary worry though as Mossley's new centre forward Danny Toronczak calmly sent Spratt the wrong way and rolled the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The drama was by no means over as twice in a matter of seconds on Mossley's very next attack, Garforth were guilty of two considerably more blatant handballs as they literally juggled the ball out of danger. This time however, neither was given; the balance of luck having tipped favourably back towards the visitors. Or in other words, the referee had recovered from his previous momentary lapse of concentration.

In the final minute of time added on Lee Connor had a shot blocked on the line and Toronczak came close to making the perfect debut but his header, with seconds to spare, was clung onto by a grateful Spratt.

Mossley’s fight back may not quite have had the fairy tale ending of three points but the one they did win was well earned, particularly as for a long period the match looked something of a lost cause. Nevertheless, it does leave you wondering what would have happened if that spirit and desire shown in the latter stages had been burning just as brightly from the start.

Or it could just be that our poor form towards the end of matches last season has become so ingrained in the away strip that it affects anyone who wears it. In all seriousness though whilst Mossley deserve ample credit for their comeback, there’s a part of me that’s idly wondering if it would have happened had Garforth not substituted their goal scorer just before Miller’s goal.

Not only was St Juste their best player by far, he was the only outlet for the long punts up field. Taking him off meant that the ball just came straight back at them, allowing the pressure to build to point where goals looked an inevitability. Perhaps they thought that the game was won (which to be fair, it looked as though it was), but it goes to show that nothing is for certain in football. Apart from not winning in that maroon kit.

And if at some point during the week you’re walking along Manchester Road, the canal or, perhaps, across the moors and you see a ball lying around, do please pick it up and hand it in at the club - it’s probably one of Garforth’s clearances. Yes, I am being serious.

Their manager/chairman might like to boast about how he's based his footballing ideals on the Brazilian approach to the game, but unless the yellow shirted behemoths of international football spend a considerable proportion of match time attempting to kick the ball out of the Maracana, there's little evidence of it in the way his team plays. As I’ve mentioned before, barring the previously mentioned St Juste, the Garforth side bear more of a resemblance to the Wimbledon side of the 80's than… well, anyone really.

All things considered, a point wasn’t too bad an outcome and hopefully we can go two better at Radcliffe this Saturday and really get our season back on track.