Another Seasonal Message

As promised here last week:

A Happy New Year to all!

The Life Of Colin The Anagram

I don’t know about you but I’ve never really been a fan of Neil Warnock.

Despite his portrayal in large sections of the media as a straight talking, no-nonsense manager (a sort of Primark Brian Clough), his recent persona has been akin to Bart Simpson’s in the episode where he becomes the “I didn’t do it” boy, blaming everyone else for Sheffield United’s relegation last season.

From the EatFootball website.

However, knowing that his time spent in non league football as manager of Burton Albion coincided with Mossley’s ‘glory days’, and with time to kill before catching a train, I found myself flicking through his recently release autobiography to see if the Lilywhites garnered a mention of any sort and, lo and behold, in the index: Mossley AFC 97, 98.

And in another pleasant surprise, he's incredibly complimentary about us too! For the most part anyway...

Not only does he describe us during those heady times as “the kings of non-league football”, but it's the only place that you’re ever likely to see Mossley mentioned in the same sentence as Chelsea, unless we we strike the mother lode in a future FA Cup run or Bill Clinton’s daughter joins the club in some capacity.

There are a few anecdotes as well about “hard and relentless” Mossley including the time we sent him the bill for a new dressing room door (after he put his foot through one at Seel Park), and his badgering of David Vaughan in to getting him to sign for Burton, purely because he wanted to build a side in Mossley’s image.

His kindest words however are reserved for Bob Murphy who he “holds in the same regard as Sir Alex Ferguson”. Though the sections only brief, you're left with the impression that Warnock was genuinely in awe, and still is, of Mossley's greatest manager.

That all said, there are a couple of things that don't stand up to close scrutiny. The first being that whilst it's almost a true statement, there are a few clubs (Dagenham notably) that would contest the claim that Mossley “won everything”.

He also states that Bob Murphy was shown the door in 1983 because of our poor league form. As far as I'm aware this wasn't the case (he resigned) and it was other factors away from the pitch, mostly monetary, that saw a huge upheaval in both personnel and the clubs fortunes.

Still, it leads Colin (you can work the rest of football's greatest anagram out for yourselves) to making a rather sweeping statement about us: “Now look at them. Last season they were relegated from the Unibond Premier... They're in free-fall”

All of which bizarrely makes it sound like a managerial departure almost quarter of a century ago was directly responsible for our relegation in the summer - a conclusion not to dissimilar to two plus two equalling an elephant riding a bicycle. And how a demotion after two, almost successive, promotions can be classed as “free-fall” leads me to wonder if he knows the difference between parachuting and what we actually have been doing: bungee jumping between the leagues and divisions.

Still, it makes you wonder that if the authors can get tiny instances like this wrong, just how many other inaccuracies must there be between the covers that you don't know about. But then that's the problem with autobiographies; the views contained therein are always just one (very biased) side of a story with the conclusion usually being the Alan Partridge-esque “needless to say, I had the last laugh.”

If you’re a fan of Warnock then I’ve no doubt that the inclusion of Mossley will be the icing on the cake. If like me though, you don’t particularly want to read about how Rafael Benitez, Alex Ferguson, the FA, West Ham, an Israeli, an Argentinian and (yes!) Sean Bean conspired to get Sheffield United relegated and, ultimately, make him resign from his job, then I suggest popping into Waterstones, settling into one of their comfy chairs for five minutes and reading pages 97-98.

If you’re reading this though after receiving the aforementioned tome as a Christmas present and I’ve spoilt it before you’ve even opened the front cover, I apologise.

On the bright side though, your relatives have probably still got the receipt...

Mossley 2 - 1 Bridlington Town

Two moments of quality, in a game where terrible conditions ensured that such instances would be rare, were enough to see Mossley put the misery of their Boxing Day mauling behind them and give them the perfect to start to the second half of their league campaign.

The driving rain and strong winds were hampering any attempts to evolve the game from being anything other than a war of attrition in the mire the middle of the pitch was fast becoming, but during a brief respite from the blustery conditions seven minutes from the interval, Mossley produced a goal worthy of a much better game.

Lee Connor found Lee Blackshaw's run down the left with a superb cross field pass that the winger took in his stride. After cutting into the box, Blackshaw supplied a low, raking cross to the far post where Danny Toronczak had lost his marker and with one touch, the former Belper forward effortlessly slipped the ball under Mick Clarke to give the Lilywhites the lead.

Whilst the weather improved marginally for the start of the second period, the football didn't and despite the onus now being on the visitors to attack Mossley, Town were struggling to find a man in the same coloured shirt stood five yards away let alone get the ball anywhere near Mossley's goal.

As such Ashley Connor was a virtual spectator and to be honest, but for a Quinn header that flashed past his post ten minutes after the restart, so was his counterpart at the other end of the pitch; Mossley choosing to sit back which, with recent experiences still fresh in the memory, didn't give much cause for comfort on the terraces.

Such pessimism was unnecessary though and as the visitors began to throw more men forward in search of an equaliser, Mossley started to exploit the gaps that were being left and with little under twenty minutes remaining they effectively sealed the win.

Controlling a long ball played out to the right wing, Danny Toronczak beat the full back once before beating him again with a clever nutmeg. Then in a neat reversal of Mossley's opener, Toronczak cut into the box and his low ball across the face of the goal was tapped over the line by Lee Blackshaw.

Mossley continued pick at the holes in their opponents back line and Toronczak went extremely close to doubling his account for the game with a header from a Blackshaw cross. Next to worry the scoreline was substitute Michael Fish but his shot following some nice build-up play only found the clutches of Clarke.

Hopes of a fourth clean sheet of the season however were dashed in the third of five inexplicable minutes of time added on. The home defences one real lapse in concentration over the course of the game saw the ball work its way across the Mossley box to where a small collection of Bridlington players were queueing up and ex-Oldham and Barnsley player Neil Redfearn dinked the ball over Ashley Connor to halve the arrears.

All told it wasn't the greatest game in the world but after the events three days earlier, it was the result that mattered most and Mossley got the one they wanted, meaning they can enter the New Year and tough tie at Bury edging that tiny bit closer to a play-off spot.

That said the performance wasn't too shabby under the extreme conditions the match was played in and the elementary mistakes that proved costly against Lancaster were thankfully few and far between. In fact, over the past few seasons this would have been the archetypal game that we'd have lost through one moment of madness, so it's good to see that the banana skins that have littered our path are slowly being removed.

Mossley 0 - 4 Lancaster City

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Not only the main protagonists at this time of the year but if preceded with 'Sweet' and followed with an exclamation point rather than a full stop, could very easily be the succinct match report for this game.

Yes, it was as bad as the scoreline suggests.

'Tis the season of giving and Mossley certainly entered into the festive spirit by gifting Lancaster City three first half goals and, ultimately, all the points on offer as well.

There was a Marley-esque forewarning of what was to come in the opening quarter of an hour when Ryan Zico-Black and Guy Heffeman wasted two good opportunities to put the visitors ahead, but Mossley's 'Nightmare after Christmas' was to begin in the 18th minute.

Gareth Hamlet's second stab at attempting to intercept a through ball ended with him sending Mark Jackson crashing to floor, leaving the referee with no other option than to award the visitors a penalty.

Being a time of goodwill to all men, the referee chose to show the Mossley defender a yellow card rather than the red I suspect everyone in Seel Park was expecting - much to the very visible displeasure of the occupants of the Lancaster dug-out. The hold-up in play whilst the referee restored order had no undue effect on Zico-Black and the diminutive winger hammered the ball past Ashley Connor from 12 yards.

That anger shown by the visitor's bench cooled rapidly moments later when the referee's leniency stopped themselves from being reduced to 10 men after Heffeman's horrendous challenge from behind on Paul Quinn was deemed only worthy of a yellow card.

And seven minutes later their mood turned more jubilant when a cheaply conceded free-kick was played deep to the far post, and with Mossley caught playing a footballing variation on that traditional Christmas parlour game 'Musical Statues' (i.e. standing still when the ball's in play), the ball was cut back to Jackson who slotted his shot past Ashley Connor from close range.

Immediately following the restart Heffeman almost added to the lead when he cannoned a free-kick off Mossley's crossbar, but the bow was to be tied around Lancaster's neatly wrapped three points with little over a third of the game gone.

For a reason that I doubt even Lee Connor will be able to fully explain, the Mossley captain handled the ball after it had been lobbed, somewhat hopefully, into the box. It was a rush of blood to the head that gave the Dolly Blues their second spot kick of the game and just like the first, Zico-Black calmly dispatched it into the back of the net.

Any hope that the third goal would be like the third ghost that visited Scrooge and bring about a change were quashed six minutes into the second period. A cross from the right found numerous City players alone in the box and whether intentional or not, Dave Foster's flicked header looped over Ashley Connor and into the goal.

With any hopes of a comeback now officially deemed forlorn and play almost exclusively concentrated in Mossley's half, discussions amongst a small group of supporters on the terraces turned to (I jest you not) how many sprouts it takes to make them flatulent. Respect prevents me from declaring who won but suffice to say, the winner of this competition only needed two to have passed their lips before they're passing wind like the brass section of the London Philharmonic. Back to the match though...

Ashley Connor then prevented Lancaster from notching their fifth with a full length save to keep out a thunderbolt from Heffeman following the best move of the match, before Mossley finally posed their first real threat on their opponents goal. Hamlet had a shot turned behind by City keeper Mark Thornley, who then did well to stop substitute Michael Fish from scoring what would have been nothing more than a consolation goal.

Alas, like Christmas itself, Mossley's brief resurgence was seemingly over with in the blink of an eye and the final twenty or so minutes of the game passed without incident before, in the dying embers of the match, Connor produced another high class save to deny Neil Marshall and give the scoreline slightly more respectability than it would otherwise have had.

Goodness knows why Mossley were so off the pace in this game but the unarguable fact is that whilst Lancaster go back west deserved winners, the Lilywhites head into the final two games of the busy Christmas schedule hoping that their poor run of form is, to borrow a phrase from another seasonal fixture, "behind them" or else midwinter could begin to look increasingly bleak.

Fingers crossed that we're slightly more (pre-revelation) Scrooge like in our attitude against Bridlington and FCUB.

And after a match report that's been stuffed with Christmas references, what better way to wrap it up than:


A Seasonal Message

As is customary at this time year, all at Mossley80 (i.e. me) would like to wish you a very

Merry Christmas!

And don't forget to come back next week when I'll be hoping all have a Happy New Year.

Seriously though, I'd also like to say thank you for visiting this blog over the last twelve months. It is very much appreciated.

Have a good time.


“We Three Games Of Christmas Are...”

"Bridlington, FCUB and Lancast... ... ar”

Yes, its that time of the year again when the fixtures arrive with the regularity of someone who exists solely on prunes. This season we face just the three games in seven days, so for the sake of time (and my own fracturing sanity) I’m going to lump the previews for all three games together.

There are some that say that in the near future when computers rule our lives, they’ll be extremely hard task masters and if the machine that picks the Unibond’s fixtures for the season is anything to go by, those fears may well be justified.

Only a cold, heartless machine would force people into making a significantly long trip to Seel Park on that notoriously easy day for getting around the country – the 26th December. So good luck and Godspeed to those from Lancaster City who are travelling to Mossley on Boxing Day!

On their last visit for a league game (13 years ago) Lancaster won 3 - 0 and you have to go back another 14 years before that since we last scored against them at home.

Mossley's first points of the season came at City's Giant Axe Stadium back in August, when unanswered goals from Kitson Gayle and Gareth Hamlet proved to be enough to seal a 2 - 0 win for the Lilywhites.

Like us the Dolly Blues have had a campaign that can be best described so far as 'up and down' and currently lie two places below us in 11th. However they currently find themselves in a poor run of form having picked up only two points out of a possible last eighteen.

Next up for Mossley at Seel Park are Bridlington Town, mere weeks after their first scheduled visit of the season was called off after some Niagara-like rain fall.

I know that in the build-up for that game I said I'd save the in-depth preview for this game but whaddya know? It turns out that I can't be bothered doing one for this encounter either. Never mind though, third time lucky in February...

New Years Day sees us travel the relatively short journey to Gigg Lane to face FCUB and the Manchester United Karaoke Choir. That is unless they’ve found a reason for boycotting this game.

There's no doubt that they'll be looking to exact some early revenge for their thoroughly deserved 2 - 0 defeat at Mossley's hands last month but what else can we expect?

Well there'll almost certainly be more ridiculous posturing by Rory Patterson, lots of those nothing-to-do with FCUB songs, Karl Mardyson (see what I did there) continuing to look like a slapped backside on the touchline and a M.E.N. match report that will either a) detail a list of non-existent contentious decisions and injured players if they lose or b) lay it on like they're the The World's Greatest Team™ if they win.

Not that it's that predictable or anything. Speaking of which...

Predictions: Three games so a win, a draw and a defeat. What I'm not telling you though is which prediction is for which game...

Frosty, There's No Game

Once again this season the weather took its toll on Mossley's league campaign as a frosty evening in Chorley put paid to any chance of the Lilywhites pre-Christmas fixture taking place.

In fact the cold snaps last hurrah had the same effect on many other games due to place, which curtailed the options available to those of us who wanted to see a game - any game. Desperately!

The only option that presented itself was a hastily arranged friendly between Woodley Sports and FCUB on the former's artificial surface, after the league meeting between the two sides at Gigg Lane had also fallen foul of the sub-zero temperatures.

So after paying the princely sum of £2, around 50 FCUB fans, four Mossley supporters and the Woodley spectators (?) prepared themselves for one of the few semi-pro games taking place in Greater Manchester...

Truth be told the game, despite the 2 - 2 scoreline, was decidedly dull (well it was that score when we left but apparently Woodley got a late winner). FCUB dominated proceedings for long stretches but lacked the nous to get past Woodley's defence, whereas the visitors defence couldn't cope with the speed and directness of the home side's attack.

Woodley had already wasted one golden opportunity before they finally went in front midway through the first half and that's how it stayed until early in the second half when a cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by a Woodley defender.

The scoreline remained level for, oh, seconds as the home side promptly went up to the other pitch and regained their lead. And that's how it stayed until the closing stages of the game when an unseemly scramble in the Woodley box ended with a boot, belonging to someone in a red shirt, diverting the ball into the net.

Whilst the game may be have been nothing to really write home about, at least the conversation was good. I've made no secret of my feelings about the FCUB circus in the past but the supporters we found ourselves talking to, during a first half spent sheltering under Woodley's only covered bit of terracing, were a perfectly level headed bunch.

Unlike some FCUB fans who seem to think that they're some sort of martyrs and that what happens on the pitch is irrelevant (my main complaint), the ones we met had a genuine interest in non-league football. Which given that it was a meaningless friendly played in the pouring rain, three days before Christmas, should have been obvious.

Stories were swapped, not least last Saturday's incident at Curzon as it turns out that Rhodri Giggs shares the same place in their hearts as he does in ours, and it was heartening to hear that some of our prejudices about non-league football are shared by others.

Despite the football, it wasn't too bad a day but all said and done, it's no substitute for watching the team you support.

Jingling All The Way

What better way to spend the last Saturday before Christmas than by negotiating Britain's transport system on the busiest shopping day of the year, all in the effort to see Mossley take on Chorley.

Well that is if there's a thaw between now and 10:00am on Saturday morning, otherwise the prospects of the match going ahead aren't good judging by comments from the Chorley end. It's best to be prepared though so on with the preview.

Away from the winter festivities, though this fixture is going to feel like one of those pre-season charity/testimonial games where a team consisting of ex-players from one club line up against the current starting XI, such is the current number of Mossley connections in Chorley’s side.

To start, managing the side is Gary Luckza who, prior to this position, was a scout at Mossley under our last manager. And the team he’s assembled contains no fewer than six people who played for the Lilywhite’s in the same period: Gavin-Lee Ellison, Joel Pilkington, Jordan Goodeve, Lee Shillito, Steve Burke and Kenny Mayers (who also runs Chorley’s social club).

They also contain a few other familiar names such as David German (ex-Hyde) and former Clitheroe keeper Peter Collinge.

Our last visit in the league to Victory Park was two years ago when Goodeve and Chris Downey scored to earn Mossley a 2 - 1 win. Realistically we should have had more than two but some errant finishing (particularly in the first half) meant that the Magpie's late goal caused more panic than it otherwise should have done

We also journeyed there twice for a league cup tie that season. The first trip fell foul to the weather moments before kick-off whilst the return was an equally miserable experience, Mossley lost.

Since having their now annual ‘crisis’ in November which saw a whole host of players move onto pastures new, Chorley have hit a purple patch form wise. After picking up a point at home to Curzon in a game they were reportedly very unlucky not to win, they went on to demolish Woodley 5-0 on home soil.

Prediction: All things considered, a draw wouldn’t be too bad a result.

Curzon Ashton 4 - 2 Mossley

The Lilywhites returned to the Tameside Stadium looking for an improvement on their last visit in November when they went behind with barely a minute on the clock, and they got it - this time it took Curzon three times as long to open their account for the afternoon.

Mossley's failure to deal with Douglas Pringle's run in the 3rd minute allowed the former Woodley forward to play the ball across the edge of the visitor's box. Following one fluffed attempt at a clearance it arrived at the feet of a surprisingly unmarked Michael Norton who made no mistake in finishing the opportunity that was presented to him.

It could, and possibly should, have been a whole lot worse for Mossley before the match clock had even ticked into double figures. Norton, once again without anyone in an orange shirt near him, opting for sheer spectacle rather than pragmatism in choosing to finish Rhodri Giggs' right wing cross with a scissor kick and instead of doubling his sides lead, he sent the ball both high and wide of Ashley Connor's goal.

After weathering the initial storm the visitor's finally began to get a bearing on proceedings and they could have been celebrating the equaliser with their first shot of the game had Paul Garvey not fired Leon Henry's clever flick-on/through ball high over the goal frame.

The frantic opening to the match quickly dissipated though as both sides became locked in a dour battle in the middle of the park with neither looking like making any kind of headway. Although it has to be said at this point that Mossley's cause wasn't being helped by some peculiar interpretations of both the offside rule and what exactly constitutes a foul when an opponent focuses purely on playing the man rather than the ball.

The game returned to life in the 27th minute when a lapse in concentration allowed Giggs to scamper down the wing towards the byline, from where he fired in an inch perfect cross onto the head of James Agoo. Fortunately for Mossley Agoo's accuracy wasn't quite as sharp and from a matter of feet he inexplicably headed the ball wide of the goal.

It appeared to be the wake-up call Mossley needed and they finally began to take the game to their host's and in doing so showed the Curzon defence to be something with a consistency more akin to jelly than concrete. Using pace and a wide range of passing, the home defence began to wobble spectacularly under their first sustained spell of pressure.

Paul Quinn and Henry began to torment the Curzon full-backs and it was from a cross by Quinn that Gareth Hamlet forced David Carnell into making his first save at the foot of his near post. Mossley's momentum continued to build and 10 minutes before the interval they got their reward when Lee Connor met Paul Quinn's out swinging corner to powerfully head past Carnell.

Things got even better for the visitor's four minutes later when Hamlet and Paul Garvey combined down the right for the latter to swing in a deep cross to Jamie Miller. Getting in front of his marker, Miller planted a firm header that left Carnell once again clutching at thin air as the ball flew into the net.

Carnell finally managed to prevent a Mossley header from reaching the back of the net when he made he made a point blank stop to deny Paul Quinn four minutes after the restart. Sadly though, along with another effort by Quinn 20 minutes later, it proved to be the only real act of intent from Mossley in the second period as they abandoned their assault on the Curzon goal and instead chose to sit back, inviting the Ashton side to attack them and they paid the price.

In the 56th minute Mossley's defence was opened up like a seven year olds present on Christmas morning, allowing Douglas Pringle the time and space to charge down the right wing before cutting in and rolled the ball beyond Ashley Connor for the equaliser.

From that point on the pressure on Mossley's goal began to grow and the Lilywhite's defending became more desperate as half-chances came and went with increasing regularity for the Blues.

Just after the midway point of the second period Ashley Connor produced a fine fingertip save to keep out Pringle's shot from the edge of the area and then followed it up a couple of minutes later with an outstanding double save.

Mossley's defence had gone AWOL leaving Giggs with what appeared to be the simple task of slotting a cross home from close range but not only did Connor somehow manage to keep it out, he also recovered to stop Pringle's attempt from the rebound hitting the back of the net. Giggs did eventually manage to beat him from the second rebound but did so from an offside position, much to his visible (and enjoyable) chagrin and leaving egg on the face of the announcer who'd started playing Curzon's substitute crowd noise over the P.A. system

The home side were then reduced to ten men as Rhodri Giggs' mouth finally talked him into trouble. With a Curzon player down injured Giggs took the time and the trouble to walk from one side of the pitch to the other to start spouting off at a group of supporters, an action in itself that was pretty stupid. However, compared to what he did next it was nothing and after a few hand gestures in the same supporters direction he asked them all to step onto the pitch for a bout of fisticuffs.

Leaving the supporters wetting themselves (through laughter I may add,) Giggs skulked back to the other side of the pitch, only for the assistant referee to inform his superior of what went on and Giggs was told to continue his walk to the dressing room.

It gave Mossley a small glimmer of hope in salvaging the game but that light was rapidly extinguished with seven minutes left. Throwing caution to the wind earlier than anyone expected, every Mossley player bar Ashley Connor took up a position in and around the Curzon box for a set-piece. It left the visitors extremely susceptible to a counter attack should the home side clear the ball and thanks to a poor delivery that's what happened; Norton embarking on a 75 yard run up the pitch on his own before taking it around Ashley Connor and celebrating his second goal of the game.

So Mossley's mini-revival comes to a sudden halt and whilst the match wasn't close to being the walkover the previous game three weeks earlier had been, it's hard to argue that Curzon weren't once again deserved winners in the end. It's also hard not to wonder though what might have been had Mossley, to use a boxing analogy, not allowed their opponents to climb off the ropes they had them on at the end of the first half.

In fact the loudest noise the home side made all afternoon was the sigh of relief their defence emitted in the second half when they realised that Mossley weren't going to be attacking them in the manner they'd done at the end of the first period.

There's certainly no disgrace in losing to the league leaders but a defeat is always harder to accept when a possible three points had been dangling tantalisingly in front of your eyes at the halfway point.

Best on the day? Leon Henry and Paul Quinn looked dangerous on the few occasions they were given the ball and allowed to run at the Curzon defence, Jamie Miller did well following his early introduction after Martin Allison's unfortunate injury and Ashley Connor was his usual self.

The highlight of the day though was the moment prior to kick-off when, with the ground containing nothing but Mossley fans and Ashton United supporters, the announcer had an acute moment of self-awareness and played Eric Carmen's 'All By Myself'. The less said about the choice of the 'Mahna Mahna Song' by The Muppets at half-time, the better though...

It's to Chorley we head next though and a face off against an improving Mossley Old Boys XI. And hopefully we'll pick up from where we left off at the end of first half in this game than the final whistle.

It's Not Long Since We Left

Back we go again.

A mere three weeks after our last visit, it's to the Tameside Stadium we head once more as Mossley return to the scene of their recent 4- 1 murder at the hands (or rather head and feet) of Curzon Ashton.

Let's not skirt around it - we were appalling that day, allowing Curzon to rack up a three goal lead without them appearing to move out of neutral. We did make a spirited attempt at a comeback for a short while in the second half but the damage had already been done.

This difference this time round though is that the Lilywhites go into the game after two relatively impressive victories, rather than two demoralising defeats.

And frankly there's not much more else I can add to this preview that wasn't said in the last one at the back end of last month, other than the fact that Rhodri Giggs, who missed the last meeting between the two sides through suspension, will probably be back in Curzon's line-up. But then you knew that already didn't you?

Fingers crossed that it isn't raining this time as well, as two wet hours or so in Curzon's multi million pound 'can't keep you dry' stadium isn't a pleasant experience.

Prediction: As I said in the preview for the postponed game last, predicting draws has worked wonders for Mossley's recent form so I'll do it again - a draw!

It's Getting Earlier Every Year

And so it begins.

The 'postponement season' is upon us once again and with some style too: gale force winds, torrential rain, snow and sleet all combining to put paid to any chance of Mossley's game against Bridlington Town going ahead.

Whilst the lack of football is seriously disappointing (especially with no other local games to fall back on other than the latest instalment of Droylsden's Blue Square Premier death march), I've got to admit that there's a small part of me delighted with the fact that I won't be spending half a weekend writing out a match report.

Speaking of which, a big thank you to the Reporter for their careful editing of my Woodley - Mossley match report in this weeks edition. Obviously, when I say 'careful editing' what I actually mean is 'brutal hack and slash job'.

I mean, why go to all the trouble of setting a scene when you can just lob off the opening paragraphs and start with 'Leon Henry was unceremoniously upended in the 20th minute'? And best of all, why bother letting people know that Mossley were awarded and scored a last minute penalty when a closing paragraph consisting solely of 'Danny Toronczak sent Higginbotham the wrong way' will suffice.

It may sound like sour grapes but I'm not being a precious writer. I'm fully aware that editing is a necessary part of the print media but it does usually tend to be done a with bit more care at other news outlets; in terms of subtlety it was like keyhole surgery as performed by a chainsaw wielding David Blunkett.

Still, better writers than me have had their reports noticeably 'trimmed' in a similar manner and at least I haven't had a paragraph or two added in by them slating the team, unlike the Ashton United match reporter last season (as mentioned briefly on the blog both here and here.

It still means that there's a hole to fill on the blog though so here are a couple of things that may help you pass a bit of time...

First of all, I can recommend spending an hour (or two) reading the Tameside Eye, a blog that does what the local papers should be doing if they weren't so dependent on suckling at the advertising teat of Tameside Council.

Filled to the brim with articles on the hypocrisy and shenanigans of the people that claim to represent us, it's an entertaining and highly enlightening read.

It's also given me an idea as to why not much effort goes into properly sub-editing match reports in the Reporter. Having followed the links on the site to Cllr John Taylor's web site and read what's on there, I'm convinced that an inordinate of man hours are spent at the Reporter's Acres Lane offices making his weekly missives to them legible. Both that and sorting through the half an Amazonian rain forest Irene Woodcock must send them every week.

After that tiny bit of seriousness it's time for a bit of fun and what better than Human Tetris, courtesy of the Japanese who have a knack of making game shows that look fun and interesting to watch, as opposed to the 'faux serious' drivel that gets commissioned over here in the name of entertainment.

Next week: A match report*.

* Weather permitting of course.

Whether The Weather

Mossley's return to Seel Park after their injury time win against Woodley last Saturday to face the divisions most eastern team, Bridlington Town.

Having been soaked to the skin on my way to work and then to the bone on my way home for the best part of the last week, I've an inkling that this game may be subject to some sort of a pitch inspection due to the amount of rain we've had.

On the positive side its fine outside at the moment (not that it isnt inside) with a relatively clear sky above us and even though the MET office are predicting constant rain from 9:00am onwards, with possibly snow around kick-off, Mossley's very own 'special' micro-climate means that absolutely anything could happen in the next 18 hours or so; including baking sunshine.

Still, with the small chance that the game might not go ahead (added to the fact that Bridlington are due to be back at Seel Park again at the end of the month and I've got to keep something in reserve till then), I'll distill the usual preview down to the absolute basics:

Town are currently 15th in the league, a position they've been hovering around since the second game of the season. Of the four wins they've registered in the league so far this season, three have been away from their home at the Queensgate Stadium. However, as good as their away form is, they are, on average, conceding almost two goals a game on their travels. Their last visit to Seel Park ended in a 6-1 whupping during the 05/06 season; a game played in conditions as dank as the one we're currently experiencing.

Prediction: Predicting a draw for the last two games appears to have worked wonders so I'll do it again - a draw.

Woodley Sports 1 - 2 Mossley

After Mossley's blistering performance in their thoroughly deserved victory over FC United (contrary to what you may have read elsewhere), there was always going to be the risk that this match a Woodley would be a case of "after the Lord Mayor's show".

And initially it was. But for the constant shrill of the referee's whistle you'd have been hard pressed to notice that the match had started, such was the lack of incident in the early stages of the game.

That all changed in the 20th minute when Mossley's latest signing Leon Henry was unceremoniously upended by Paul Derrick. The challenge was more clumsy than malicious but in the brief round of 'handbags at five paces' that invariably follows this kind of incident, Derrick's upset at the decision spilt over into an off-the-ball clash with Nicky Thompson and the referee showed no hesitation in producing a red card from his pocket to send the Woodley forward off.

The dismissal should have provided Mossley with a springboard to take control of the game but despite having the man advantage, they were struggling to reproduce the form they'd shown midweek. All too often the basis of their attacks was a long ball up the middle of the pitch - food and drink to Woodley's two huge centre halves. Even on the occasions when some flowing did get them behind their opponents defence, the only action Woodley keeper Liam Higginbotham was called in to was to pluck crosses out of the air.

Woodley had already beaten Mossley twice within the space of five days back in September and it looked as though they could make it a hat-trick of victories over the Lilywhites for this season when, five minutes before half-time, they took a shock lead. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Danny Stubberfield's first touch took him clear of Lee Connor and his second sent the ball across Mossley's other Connor, goalkeeper Ashley, and in at the far post to put the home side ahead.

That advantage could, and probably should, have been doubled three minutes later when Buckley ran through a gap where Mossley's defence should have been, but his lobbed finish not only cleared Ashley Connor but the goal as well.

It meant that the home fans went into the interval the happier of the two sets of supporters, though you'd have been hard pushed to have spotted one. Woodley's lack of support has been a stick to poke them with down the years, particularly on the various incarnations of Mossley80, but the meagre spattering of locals at this game was much worse than usual.

Judging by the clubs message board there's a significant amount of unhappiness at the style of football they're playing this season and it looks like it's being reflected through the number of people willing to pass through the turnstiles to watch it. Hopefully things will improve for them soon because the last thing we need is for a relatively local side to have its future hanging in the balance. Even if it is only so that some of the Mossley supporters can get their fix of the cappuccino's they sell in the refreshment Portakabin.

Mossley took to the pitch for the second half in a visibly more determined mood and five minutes after the restart, only a fine save from Higginbotham stopped Paul Garvey from registering his first goal of the season. What Woodley's custodian didn't know then though was that all he'd done was delay it for ten minutes.

An opening brought about by a quick break down the left involving Matthew Butters, Leon Henry and Gareth Hamlet came to a halt when Lee Rick (living up to his name by making a huge one) tripped Martin Allison four yards outside the penalty area. Its central position, combined with its closeness to goal and the number of players the hosts had in their defensive wall, made an effort on target (let a lone a goal) look a difficult proposition. Garvey was up to the challenge though and expertly curled an inch perfect shot that not only beat the massed line of Woodley players but the desperate dive of Higginbotham as well to draw Mossley level.

As Mossley pushed forward in search of a winner they became susceptible to counter attacks and but for some safe handling by Ashley Connor and a brilliantly timed tackle by Matthew Butters, they could have very well retaken the lead. The threat they posed was eventually quashed and as the game entered its final phase, Mossley finally began to make their man advantage count as they laid siege on the Stockport sides goal.

Leon Henry almost capped an impressive début with a goal when, with the assistance of the strong wind, his left wing cross turned into a shot that the Woodley keeper did well to tip over. The raised flag of the assistant referee then curtailed Gareth Hamlet's celebrations as his close range effort was ruled out for offside and a minute later Lee Connor was agonisingly close to grabbing what would have surely been a winner when his low drive narrowly beat the upright.

When Higginbotham held onto Martin Allison's sweetly struck volley in the final minute of normal time, most supporters were resigned to leaving Lambeth Grove with a point. Happily though the team wasn't and their 'it isn't over till the final whistle' mentality was rewarded in the 93rd minute when Richard Conway was sent crashing to the floor as he burst into Woodley's penalty area with the ball.

For the second time in his short career as a Mossley player, Danny Toronczak now faced the prospect of having to take a last gasp penalty that, if scored, would change the whole complexion of the game. If he felt under any pressure it didn't show as he calmly sent Higginbotham the wrong way to nestle the ball in the back of the net and guarantee that the three points would be heading back to Seel Park.

It wasn't the best of performances from Mossley, credit for which goes to Woodley because if you'd arrived late, unless you were to count the number of players on the field, you wouldn't have noticed that they'd been reduced to ten men.

More impressive though was the Lilywhites' determination in their search for that winning goal. If the last ten minutes had been a boxing match the referee would have undoubtedly stopped the contest, such was the pummelling Woodley were receiving. And however harsh Mossley's last minute penalty goal was on the home side, it was as equally deserved by the visitors for their refusal to admit defeat in the quest for all of the points that were on offer.

Not a bad way from Mossley to round off what has been a perfect week and put the lows of the previous seven days behind them. Now for Bridlington...