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 d├ębut 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...

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