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.


Anonymous said...
11:32 pm

... and a fair few FC United supporters. Even we were more in number than Curzon.