After wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas last week it's only fair that I wish you all a Happy New Year this week. So...

Happy New Year!

I'd add more but writing something poignant and meaningful for this particular occasion is beyond me at the moment, and I seriously doubt you'd be bothered to read it either given the time of year.

I did have a look around YouTube for something appropriate for celebrating the last day of this calendar year and the first of the next one but it's decidedly slim pickings to choose from. There were the following though.

The first is something you'd kind of expect:

While the second is less so. And despite it being hardly celebratory or fun, it may provoke a second or two of thought as we enter 2009:

Curzon Ashton 0 - 1 Mossley

Much as it was for George Michael, 'Last Christmas' wasn't a particularly good one for Mossley.

The only bright spot in their Boxing Day game at home Lancaster City was that the visitors failed to add to their four unanswered first half goals after the interval.

366 days on though the Lilywhites faithful were saved from tears on St Stephen's Day by a solitary goal which was enough for Mossley to edge out Curzon Ashton in a closely fought (albeit a bit too literally at times) encounter.

It came just after the hour mark when a through ball from Danny Self split the Ashton defence open and played Chris Hirst into a one-on-one with Blues keeper David Carnell. The chance looked to have gone when his heavy first touch took the ball away from the goal and narrowed the angle available to him but his second was sublime, deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing Carnell with the outside of his right boot to send the ball bouncing into the back of the net.

The goal was the culmination of a lengthy spell of Mossley pressure that had begun the moment the second period had started. Graham Kay hit the crossbar with a header from the edge of the box and a good few other efforts flew over it as some wayward finishing stopped them from not only opening the scoring earlier than they did, but widening the gap between themselves and Curzon before the lead they held came under any kind of threat.

Graham Kay pays close attention to Glynn Barker.

On the few occasions the visitors back line was breached and that danger did arrive, they had the goalkeeper Andy Robertson to thank for ensuring the slender lead remained intact. Ten minutes after Hirst's strike Robertson produced an outstanding reaction save to palm away a Michael Norton shot when a goal looked inevitable. This was followed moments later by the Mossley keeper winning his final confrontation of the afternoon with the Blue's leading scorer by diverting a shot onto the roof of the net when a goal once again looked like being the only outcome.

Good fortune isn't something Mossley have had a great deal of this season but they got a rare slice of luck with five minutes of the game left. Losing his marker as a free-kick from the right was looped into the Lilywhites penalty area, Adam Jones looked certain to level the scores as he met the ball on the edge of the six yard box. Inexplicably however he headed high over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy and with it went his sides chances of rescuing the game.

That the second half was as interesting as it was came as something of a surprise after a leaden opening to the match which suggested that the excesses of previous day were still weighing heavily on the stomachs of all involved. Only on four occasions did the first half spring into life - twice for the home side, twice for the visitors and all brought about by mistakes from the defending team.

The first fell Curzon's way in the 23rd minute when a misjudged call from Robertson allowed Norton to nip between him and the defence and steal the ball. The Lilywhites custodian reacted quickly though to rectify his error and dropped on Norton's shot as he attempted to roll it into the empty net. An overhit back pass from Nick Boothby was the genesis of Mossley's next brush with danger and it was only some excellent covering defending that prevented Glynn Barker from tapping the ball in from close range.

At the opposite end of the pitch Mossley, and Danny Dignan in particular, were benefiting from some equally generous gifts from their hosts. A sloppy pass from Chris Worsley presented Dignan with the ball and from fully thirty yards he unleashed a ferocious shot that scraped the outside of the post and had Carnell flying across the face of his goal in a forlorn attempt to reach it. Carnell did get to Dignan's second effort though just before break, diverting it wide after an elementary error from David Birch had let in the Mossley forward.

In the end though it was to be just the one goal that separated the two sides and the noise and applause that greeted the final whistle from the visiting supporters was the least the Mossley players deserved for their efforts over the course of the preceding hour and a half. Efforts which ensured they ended 2008 on a high with their fourth successive victory, their first Boxing Day win for five years and their first in four attempts at Curzon's new ground.

I'd love to write more about this match, and I may do so at a later date, but it's Christmas and I'd much rather be doing something else so if you don't mind I'll leave it here.

What I will say though, besides well done Mossley, really well done, is that I hope the return fixture on New Years Day is officiated by people who don't appear to be voice operated by the Curzon bench and/or aren't unafraid of having to fill out paperwork for red cards off on a public holiday.

Red sky at night - Mossley's delight. Sorry! That caption was appalling...

There's no question that the home side should have finished the match with less than the full compliment of eleven players out on the pitch as, not for the first time, the Blues reaction to having things not go their own seemed to be if you can't beat them – kick them.

Some of the challenges that took place, especially after they'd gone behind, were utterly appalling . Yet they all somehow went unpunished, even one on Hirst that almost took the assistant referee out of the game such was the way the home player threw himself into the challenge on the touchline. You'd have hoped that after he'd almost ended up in a heap on the side of the pitch that he'd draw the referee's attention to what happened but no – it was just another in a long line of matches where it appeared the linesmen were only allowed to signal for throw-ins and nothing else.

To finish with, even though I can't bring you footage of the goal through the Unibond's 'no publicity is better than any' policy, I can show you what happened after the match finished which is the victorious Lilywhites receiving the applause of the crowd and reciprocating with their appreciation of the support they received.

I know they've done it quite a lot this season but with such things being a rarity over past seasons it still fills you with an inner glow when you see it:

Yo, Ho And Ho

As always at this time of year it’s customary to place a seasonal greeting on a website or a blog, and not being one to fly in the face of tradition, here’s mine.

In the words of Slade:

This is rockin’ radio the wall of sound

Oops! Sorry, wrong song.

As I was meaning to say...

A Happy Christmas to all at Seel Park – be it those on the pitch or slightly off it, those behind the scenes or fellow terrace dwellers.

And to you, the few who are still reading this tiny spot on the world wide web as it gamely limps along in the face growing indifference - Merry Christmas!

I had intended to do something slightly more special for my last post before Christmas but a horrendous two days at work (the culmination of months of being metaphorically dumped on from a great height) has wiped away a sizeable proportion of my festive spirit, even though the trials and tribulations suffered this week ended in a small moral victory.

Instead of what I had planned though I’ll leave you with a few things that may help you to pass the time until it’s the moment you have to unwrap a pair of socks and feign being thrilled...

Cliff Richard sang that Christmas is a time for living, believing, trusting, joy and laughter. It's also the small part of the year that keeps the toy industry afloat but how many of the following will Father Christmas deliver tonight? The 25 Most Baffling Toys From Around The World

Speaking of the man in the red suit, he's fallen on hard times lately and isn't quite the jolly old soul the songs make him out to be: Extreme Biography - Santa Claus and Scary Santas.

On the subject of Christmas songs (making it two hospital radio style segue ways on the trot) GoHome Productions has some 'mash-ups' free to download. If you've always wanted to hear Blondie and Jennifer Lopez on Paul McCartney's Pipes of Peace or wondered what a super group made up of Elvis Presley, C3PO and R2D2 would sound like, get clicking now! Really, they are good.

If Christmas songs aren't your thing though, why not try some 'alternative' ones? A word of warning though, they're not for the ears of children or those at the other end of the scale as they contain the odd rude word or fifty.

If you want to escape Christmas for a short while though:

The Quietus - Guess the album covers being mimed and try and beat my pitiful score of four. Yes, four.

The 20 Most Ridiculous Batman Comics Ever Released - The title says it all really.

The Greatest Roller Coaster Souvenir Photos Ever - As does this one.

Well that’s it from me on this blog until it’s time to put tales of the St Stephen’s day game online. I’m of now to watch Have I Got News For You before settling down for my annual viewing National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

It's an exciting life I lead isn't it?

All the best.

Rochdale Town 2 - 3 Mossley

It might only have been a friendly but Mossley managed to get one final Saturday game in before the end of 2008 - their first since the Woodley away game on the 22nd of November.

The hastily arranged nature of the game meant that it was to late for some people to extricate themselves from Christmas shopping duties so it was a small crowd (one count put it at 33) and two small squads that lined up to watch and participate in what turned out to be an entertaining game.

Michael Fish wins the players sweep of who could spot the most away supporters acting casually at the side of the pitch.

I'm not going to go into great detail about what happened because you can see the important bits below but in summary:

Mossley, lining up with new signing Chris Middleton at right back, took a very early lead through Michael Fish and missed a whole host good chances before Danny Self made it two with a diving header. More fluffed opportunities followed before Dave Brookes added a third not long into the second period.

As the game wore on and Mossley continued to narrowly avoid running up a cricket score, Rochdale pulled two goals back and should have had a penalty moments before the final whistle. In the end though the result, not that it really matters being a friendly, was a deserved win for Mossley.

Don't take my word for it though, you can form that opinion for yourself by watching this...

Or if you want to watch a better quality version, click here and then on the higher quality option below the viewing window.

And finally, thank goodness there's nothing like the following sign at Mossley or else matches would resemble those 'behind closed doors' games.

Chorley 1 - 2 Mossley

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Mossley have actually managed to complete ninety minutes of football without the weather intervening in some way.

That said it was a close run thing as the torrential rain prior to kick-off and throughout a large part of the first half had more than a few people worried that the evenings scoreline wouldn't have two numbers in it but two A's instead.

Attempts to watch the game at certain points in the ground were akin to trying to view the boats that criss-cross the Niagara River while stood directly behind the Horseshoe Falls, such were the torrents of water pouring off and through the roofs of the stands.

Following the near month long lay-off caused by three postponements and one highly contentious match abandonment, you wouldn't have been surprised if Mossley had exhibited some rustiness on their return to action.

There was little of it, if any, in evidence though as the Lilywhites continued from where they'd left off at Woodley a mere three and a half weeks earlier with a measured performance that extended their winning streak and eased them comfortably into the next round of the President's Cup.

That said the match did get off to the worst possible start for the visitors. It was barely two minutes old when Roger Sharrock fired a hopeful looking cross into the box from the left wing, and whether its trajectory was altered by the swirling wind or Andy Robertson simply misjudged its flight, there was a moment of stunned silence as the ball unexpectedly dropped under the bar to give the Magpies the lead.

Mossley responded to the early set back with the type of attacking football that has been the cornerstone of their better results this season. However it wasn't until the 37th minute that they finally found an end product to compliment the build-up play. It came through the boot of Danny Self who punished keeper Peter Collinge's fumbled attempts at dealing with Danny Egan's close range header by blasting the loose ball into the net for the equaliser.

Collinge's goal then began to lead a charmed life as further fumbles landed at the feet of his own team mates rather than at those belonging to the orange shirts piling in to the box.

The greatest stroke of fortune they enjoyed though came when Ryan Cook looked to have volleyed Mossley into a first half lead with a thundering shot from the edge of the box that had Collinge wrong footed. Unfortunately for Cook a Chorley defender strolled obliviously into the path the ball was taking and was almost knocked spark out as he unawaringly deflected it wide of the post.

The break for half-time failed to disrupt the momentum the Lilywhites had built up prior to its arrival. Ten minutes into the second period and following a concerted spell of pressure in which Danny's Egan and Dignan had gone close to edging their side in front, Mossley registered the goal that would win them the game. Once again it was a close range effort but this time it was Dignan who applied the finishing touch, stabbing the ball home after Graham Kay's header from a left wing corner had crashed back off the crossbar.

Danny Dignan (hidden) puts the ball (hidden) into the net (the stringy thing with holes in) for Mossley's second, and winning goal.

Substitute Ashley Parillon wasted a golden opportunity to pull the hosts level when he scuffed a shot wide of the upright after being put clean through on goal, but this solitary chance for the home side was dwarfed by the number of openings Mossley were carving out at the opposite end of the pitch. And sadly fluffing.

On another day I might have had a grumble about how the victory should have been wrapped up long before the full-time whistle but to do so after this game however, their first for a while, would be churlish.

The Magpies should have had their on field numbers reduced by one five minutes from time when James Mullineux hacked David Brooke down from behind as the Mossley substitute broke into the box.

The foul in itself was cynical enough to warrant a red card and the fact that a goal scoring opportunity had clearly been denied should have made the flash of crimson even more of a certainty.

A card was produced but it turned out to be just a yellow; an outcome which astonished the fans and a good proportion of the players, particularly when the reasoning he gave was that there had been a covering player, despite the fact that no one else apart from the goalkeeper had been remotely close to the incident. So unless the referee has an imaginary friend who plays at the back for Chorley it safe to say he got this decision very, very wrong.

Finishing the game against eleven men rather than ten made not one jot of difference though as Mossley were happy to spend the ever expanding length of injury time (four scheduled minutes eventually grew to nearly seven) in the left hand corner of Chorley's pitch.

What all fashionable assistant referees are wearing this season: a short sleeved shirt over the top of a coat.

It wasn't the greatest game in the world but neither was it the worst (that honour going to the previous meeting between the two sides this season).

What it was, after their prolonged, weather enforced absence from various pitches scattered across the north of England over the last few weeks, was exactly the result and performance Mossley needed to blow off the cobwebs before they head into the tough Christmas schedule.

Curzon Ashton 4 - 1 Chorley

If you're wondering where the report on the Mossley - Wakefield game is, there isn't one!

For the fourth time in a little over two weeks a match involving Lilywhites has fallen foul of the weather. And such is Mossley's desire to be contrary and stand out from the crowd that while games up and down the country were being called off due to waterlogged surfaces, no game took place at Seel Park because it was frozen solid.

It was a situation that meant another Saturday morning was spent looking around the internet for other local games that were on and armed with the information that there was no danger of the match at the Tameside Stadium being called off, the desperate need for a fix of football meant that for the second successive week it would be Curzon Ashton that filled the void. Proving once and for all that addiction has its down side.

Initially it did look like we might about to witness a shock result as Chorley ran the home near ragged over the course of the opening half hour; a fact studiously ignored in the report in the Non-League Paper. Unfortunately the chances that presented themselves were wasted and former Lilywhite Jordan Goodeve was probably the biggest culprit. Twice he chose the wrong option in who to play the ball to when yellow shirts outnumbered the blue ones in attack before spurning a golden opportunity to edge the Magpies ahead by side footing the ball over the bar from ten yards.

The seeds for their downfall were sown though when more and more of their players began to venture forward in search of the goal they deserved. The ambition is one that in some way should be applauded but the consequence was that they were now short on numbers at the back and it was through exploiting this flaw in Chorley’s game plan that Curzon opened the scoring.

That's not to say it wasn't unavoidable. The low cross from the right wing that set up the goal should have been cleared on at least two occasions as it rolled across the penalty area but the defence’s Can-Can like attempts at doing so allowed the ball to trickle through to an unmarked Barker who promptly stuck it in the net.

It may only have been one goal but with it Chorley simply fell apart. Curzon’s, and Barker’s, second was not long in coming and once again was the result of some really awful defending. Like the first goal it was another low cross from the right that did the damage but on this occasion nearly every single one of the ten visiting players packed into their own box made a hash of clearing their lines before it reached Barker’s feet.

Within minutes of the start of the second half Curzon had doubled the lead. And whereas their opening two goals were the result of a catalogue of errors from the Magpies, the third and fourth were something else altogether - a fantastic strike apiece from Ogoo and Whelan following some quick and incisive build-up play. If you can, try and see them on Channel M's football show next Friday because they are worth watching.

The home side had another goal ruled out for offside but other than that not much else happened until the closing minutes when, with Curzon metaphorically in their slippers and sipping brandy in front of an open fire, Chorley grabbed a consolation goal. It was a very good goal too but way too little, far too late.

You may have noticed that Michael Norton's name hasn't cropped up at all in the report until ten words ago and there's a good reason for that - he was virtually anonymous. Much as he was against Woodley seven days earlier other than for his two goals from the penalty spot.

Now I'm in no doubt that when Mossley turn up on Boxing Day he'll be back to performing his usual shenanigans against us but having seen Curzon's last two games his mind looks elsewhere at the moment. There has been a rumour doing the rounds that he's on his way to Tranmere Rovers in January and quite a few Curzon fans we spoke to certainly seem to be under the impression that it isn't a rumour but something that's done and dusted) so there’s a chance he's a touch pre-occupied with that.

From a purely Mossley perspective, while both sides offer a considerable threat there was enough evidence of weaknesses in the two of them to instil a bit of confidence that we can get something out of the games against them in the upcoming weeks. It’s a confidence that will undoubtedly evaporate in me as the matches draw nearer but for the first time in a while it is actually there.

From a neutral perspective however, I wish I‘d stopped at home and saved my money.

Breaking News: 14/12/2008


The Napoleon Complex

After watching ITV's highlights of the Chesterfield - Droylsden FA Cup tie on Wednesday night, or to be more exact Dave Pace's mad eyed circling of the edges of sanity in his reaction to home sides second goal, I was reminded of something I did a while back.

So as the men in white coats prepare their butterfly nets for the replay in case non-league's very own Begbie finds something else to irk him, what better time to revisit Mossley80's golden age? That halcyon period when it was a bit funny and the number of daily visitors was more than it what it now gets in the space of two weeks:

Non-League Warehouse - Dave Pace Doll

Postings From The Onion Bag

A change of pace for the blog with this posting as it actually contains something funny.

If you cast your mind back to earlier in the week, Sunday to be precise, you may remember that after a small moan about ground hoppers I promised to bring you an extract from a defunct football magazine about them.

And being true to my word (yes, there is a first time for everything)– here they are!Just click on the images to be taken to a bigger, more easily readable version:

The pieces come from a long gone and much lamented football monthly called 'The Onion Bag' (not to be confused with the fanzine of the same name) which while having its fair share of corny jokes, contained some brilliantly funny stuff.

And now that I’ve got a working scanner I’ll be doing my best to bring you some other highlights from the magazine's eighteen issue run over the coming months. Possibly years if I really eke it out.

These include an ingenious and sometimes mad reworking of old You Are The Ref strips and ‘Say Cheesey’, their tribute to old football cards and stickers which contain the kind of photos you would never see in today’s image conscious game.

If the magazine was as good as you say why is it no longer around? Well no one knows for definite but a rumour I read on the internet (therefore it must be true) suggests it fell foul of the sports authorities when they started publishing copies of the reports sent to local FA’s by Sunday league referees.

It's sadly missed, if possibly only by me, but it's better to have had eighteen issues of chortlery than none at all. Something I hope you'll come to agree with me on in the coming months.

In regards to 'Say Cheesy', and as indicator as to what to expect, Broken TV - a blog that deserves to take up a significant chunk of your online reading time - did something similar recently with stickers from the 1980 Panini album and very funny it is too:

The Top 10 Footballers From 1980 Who Are Surely A Lot Older Than They're Claiming To Be

There was a follow-up as well which has a Mossley connection:

The Inevitably Disappointing Sequel To Really Popular Update Awards 1980

Be warned though! He may bring back some unwelcome memories of a really crap time in the Lilywhites not so recent history.

Why We Watch Non-League Football - Part Two

Because the possibility of boarding the football money train means that idiots like the one in the following link from the Chester Chronicle aren't interested in the likes of us any more:

John Batchelor - The man who sadly won't go away

For further evidence as to why this gentleman should never be allowed back into football, here are a few links from his aborted attempt to do the same at Mansfield which includes a Q&A session with supporters and a Guardian investigation into the man from cloud cuckoo land.

And if you've forgotten about part one it's here

"Jack Frost Nipping At Your Toes"

At least he would have been had we been stood watching a game tonight. Instead those ten tiny extremities are nice and warm at home in a thick pair of socks as the plummeting temperature once again thwarts our hopes of seeing a Tuesday night game.

As depressing as the thought of now being in a position to accidentally catch sight of Holby City is, there's some comfort in that at least Chorley had the decency to call the match off six hours before it was due to start and not forty three minutes after it actually had like the referee in last weekends game at Durham. Thereby saving us the time and trouble of travelling in deteriorating conditions to watch a farce.

And speaking of the team from the north east with the all weather pitch, their game at home to Newcastle tonight has also been postponed due to a frozen pitch. The hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on installing their Field Turf playing surface is obviously looking to be money well spent.

I alluded to this in my last but one posting but if teams in Russia can play on a similar surface in temperatures approaching double figures on the minus side of the scale, how cold must it be on the banks of the Wear? Unless they've bought the pitch off the footballing equivalent of Lyle Lanley they really should be looking to get a refund. (I fully understand that next to no-one is going to get the Lyle Lanley reference but as no-one is going to have read this far down - what the hell!)

According to tonight's Oldham Chronicle Mossley are lodging a complaint to the FA about the handling of the situation that evolved in Durham on Saturday. Or to be more precise the lack of it). It's a noble venture and as a supporter I wish them all the luck with their case but the chances of the FA doing anything other than ignoring it are smaller than winning the lottery and being hit by lightning on the same day. While dressed as an otter.

Back to tonight though and no game means a search through the TV listings for something to watch and frankly it's as barren as this evenings non-league fixture schedule.

There is a match on ITV but I'll give it a miss. Not only does Champions League football leave me bored senseless, it will also contain the twelve most feared words in the sport: "And to take you through the game, Clive Tyldsley and David Pleat."

Outside of the Daily Show on More4 though there's nothing that piques my interest so, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch that and then carry on working my way through my West Wing DVD's for the umpteenth time.

Woodley Sports 0 - 3 Curzon Ashton

Even before this seasons fixtures were announced way back in the summer, the trip up to Durham (along with the similar one to Newcastle) to see Mossley play was one I was never going to make.

And as much as I hate missing matches in which the Lilywhites are playing, I hate the effects a six hour round trip in a car has on my back more, especially at this time of the year.

It was a situation which meant scouring the fixture lists for another game to fill a blank Saturday with and thanks to the frosty weather, the options were a touch limited.

When in doubt though Woodley's always the best place to head as any game scheduled to take place there is likely to be on; Lambeth Grove's artificial grass pitch continuing to live up to the 'all weather' claim on the packaging it came in. Unlike Durham's supposedly similar surface which appears to have all the properties of the plastic grass you find on greengrocers shelves.

And for more on the ridiculous state of affairs that transpired on Mossley's trip to the north-east, read my previous post or, even better still, Smiffy's

Woodley's opponents were Curzon Ashton and their opponents won 3 – 0. A score line which if truth be told flattered the men from the Tameside Stadium slightly.

Curzon went into an an early two goal lead through two penalties - one for a foul in the box and the other for a tackle that, according to the Mossley fans in line with it at that end of the ground, took place well outside the area. The referee being one of those official who, like the man in the middle we had at Halifax, believes a foul should be given from where the player lands and not where the offence took place - even if it did involve a three to four yard leap.

Both penalties were won by Curzon's left back Whelan and to be honest, if it wasn't for him and his team mate Russell at right back, it's doubtful Curzon would have mustered anything approaching an attack in this match. Maybe they've still got a hangover from their recent FA Cup exploits but apart from the aforementioned players they looked devoid of ideas and urgency. Sadly it's a state of affairs I expect they'll have recovered from come Christmas when they face us twice.

The third goal came in open play and, unsurprisingly, was set up through another long run by Whelan and finished superbly at the back post by Russell.

The second half was, for want of a better word, moribund (and as far from the 'end-to-end' description it mysteriously got in the Non-League Paper report as you're ever likely to get) and made exponentially more miserable by the news filtering in from Durham. The joy and shock that had greeted Mossley's four goal lead giving way to bitter disappointment and fledgling conspiracy theories as word of the abandonment came.

Back in the outer reaches of Stockport, neither side showed much in the way of fight in the second period until late on when Woodley found a higher gear. And if I tell you that the gear they found was first, it may give you some idea to how bad the half was.

If Woodley had a half decent strike force they may have actually gone close to getting something from the game in those final stages. They didn't though and in the end had to settle for a late penalty award of their own which Adam Morning made a right pigs ear of taking. Hence the the 0 next to Woodley's name in the heading to this post.

I had a 'stills' day with my camera for this game and the few that turned out 3.76% decent can be viewed by clicking the following link: Woodley vs Curzon

Other points of interest. Woodley's ex-Mossley contingent continues to keep on growing. Along with Gavin Salmon, Adam Morning and Russell Headley there's now...

Yes, Mark Phillips. Making his return to non-league football after a two year absence.

Perhaps the most surprising thing on the day, besides the news that filtered through from the north-east, was that the crowd for this game was 16 more than the one for the fixture against us a fortnight ago despite there looking to be half as many people in the ground.

Obviously there's no telling how many people had taken up shelter in the bar from the weather and the poor fare on offer on the pitch, but it must have been packed to the rafters in order for 140 people to have been counted in for this game.

What few people there were on the terraces were like us: supporters desperate for a game of football to watch. There were also a good number of 'ground hoppers' too, that strange and small group of people who go to grounds to say they've been rather than watch the football. As one much missed football publication put it in the past, "(they're) train-spotters who've run out of trains."

You get the impression they'd be far happier if the players never came out as not only does it spoil the view of the dugouts, it makes it more difficult to take pictures of the pitch perimeter fixings.

How do I know they were ground hoppers? Well the satchel bag slung across one shoulder, a notebook constantly being scribbled in and two match programmes (one to write in and the other, like Laura Palmer, wrapped in plastic) were a give away. As was there need to fill us in on the minutiae of their recent expeditions across the north west.

If I get chance before Christmas I'll endeavour to put on the blog a couple of things from the publication I mentioned earlier because a) it deserves a new and wider audience and b) it's far funnier than something an infinite number of me's with the same amount of typewriters could come up with.

Hopefully a better match and a full ninety minutes will be adequate compensation for this weekend on Tuesday when Mossley journey to Chorley for the President's cup.

Plastic Pitches - They're The Future! Or Not,

You're winning 4-0 away to the team many people expect to win the league and the game gets abandoned at half-time due to the freezing conditions. Galling, yet somehow typical isn't it?

To make matters worse for the Mossley players, management and supporters making their way back down from the north-east, the match was being played on Field Turf which, according to its manufacturers:

So either Durham got a bad batch of the stuff or, with my tin foil hat on, there's a conspiracy theory in this somewhere...

Das (Fußball) Boot

For those of you who moan about the standard of refereeing in the Unibond League (and there are plenty who do), be thankful we're not in the Colombian semi-pro divisions if this is what happens in their top tier*:

Hard to believe there's rumours of corruption in football over there isn't it?

Then again, if one of the 'Big Four' were to benefit from something similar in the Premier League, Andy Gray would undoubtedly argue that there was some form of contact (even it was only eye) and that the player was well within his rights to go down.

*I've no idea what they're saying or why there's chicken noises so don't ask!

"Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful"

For the second time this week best laid plans have fallen foul of the weather. The intention to take in a game of football once again thwarted by Mother Nature.

Even if expectations had been confounded and the match we'd scheduled to take in had gone ahead, it would still be Mossley80-less as running the risk of the rapidly deteriorating conditions on the road wasn't particularly appealing. And to be honest, I'd had enough of journeying through the current this weather this morning without repeating it 12 hours later.

A phone call as I was leaving home from someone sat on the last chopper out of Saigon (or the 6:30am bus to Ashton as it was previously known) told me that word had come over the driver's radio that it was to be the only bus in and out of Mossley for the foreseeable future. So off to the railway station it was to take my chances with Northern Rail.

Making my rather slow way to the station I was caught in two minds. One half was muttering grimly about the condition and trying to keep me upright as I slid about the footpaths. The other half though was full of the childish glee of walking through the snow and sliding about.

After tackling Mill Street like it was the north face of K2 (the lack of crampons negated by rubbing my feet in a grit pile at the bottom of the hill) I made it to Manchester Road and boy, was it eerie.

Normally at that time of 6:45-ish the road is quite busy but there wasn't a single piece of traffic on it. Not that it was unsurprising as cars couldn't make it up the roads onto it, and judging by the ashen faced expression on the driver of the one car who came down Stamford Road, it was treacherous coming down onto it as well.

The only good thing about the morning, apart from my momentary regression back to a single digit age group, was that the train was only four minutes late and I got a seat. It's little comfort though when you've got a thirty minute walk through black slush to get to work once you disembark.

Why am I telling you all this? Frankly I've no idea but it's a good way of getting a bad day off my chest, especially as some of my fellow employees who live in the area wangled the day off claiming they were snowed in.

Before I finish though I'd like to applaud the consideration shown to pedestrians by the drivers trying to make their way up Wagon Road this morning. Unable to get any grip on the snow they continually slid backwards and to avoid hitting the car behind, they graciously swerved onto the footpaths where people were having enough standing upright as it was without having to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a couple of tons of metal hurtling towards them.

Fair play to them. I mean, what's a couple of years in prison for vehicular manslaughter and ruining the lives of countless families when the alternative is losing your no claims bonus.

Oops! I got mixed up there. I didn't mean to praise you, I meant to call you the self-centred tossers you undoubtedly are. Glad I got that straight.

So onto tomorrow then and the joys black ice will bring in the land of hills.

Glossop North End 2 - 2 Maine Road

I suggested it may happen in my previous posting and happen it did: Mossley's match with Woodley Sports fell foul of the weather.

And while the official reason for the postponement was frost, the very thick layer of fog that enveloped the ground (and most of northern England for the day) would have undoubtedly had an effect on the decision. Therefore I can’t say I was too upset at the postponement of a potentially farcical match in which a significant portion of the action would have been invisible to the naked eye.

The late call-off though (fifty minutes before kick-off) meant that there was a sudden rush to find another local game to watch. At least there was from those of us who'll watch anything at any level to keep us out of the house on a Saturday afternoon. Of the two fixtures within reach before 3:00pm, only Glossop's game with Maine Road hadn't fallen foul of the weather and so it was to the Peak District that a small band of Mossley supporters headed, along with fans from other clubs with postponed games including two women who’d travelled from Bristol to watch Stalybridge against Farsley.

The journey to the Surrey Street ground saw plenty of wondering as to how on earth Glossop's match could still be on as visibility due to the fog was near treacherous. The musing stopped however when we got to the edge of Glossop and were met by bright sunshine and blue skies. It wasn’t to last though and six minutes after arriving the fog started to roll in. By the time kick-off arrived the opposite touchline was barely visible through the gloom and for the most part vision wise, things went steadily downhill from there.

”On a hill in Glossop, mist rolling in from the west...”

Occasionally the drift of the fog would clear things a little, but it was only ever a momentary respite and what was happening on the far side of the pitch would quickly be swallowed by the mist again; leaving you guessing as to what was going on through the shouts emanating from the opposite touchline.

All in all a bit of a shame really as it was a good game. The bits we saw of it.

Maine Road in a sickly yellow and pale blue kit ran the first half and deservedly took a two goal lead into the interval with them. Their first goal was pretty straight forward but the second was either a classic piece of opportunism and skill or solely attributable to the absurd conditions – Rothel launching the ball high into the gloom and dropping it over the back pedalling North End keeper.

Which of the two options you plump for probably depends on which team you support. My own opinion, not that it’s worth a jot, is that it was a goal that wouldn’t have been scored had the weather been better and the ball not blended into the background during its long flight.

Mossley80 goes moody.

Bizzarely Maine Road decided to try and sit on their advantage in the second period and it was a tactical decision that failed spectacularly. Glossop tore them to shreds and not only did they level the game, they should have won it. In fact it’s possible they could have done and we just didn’t see the winner.

But why talk about it when you can see (a word I use in its least possible sense) what happened for yourself. Who needs spot the ball when you can have spot the player on the ball and spot the match too!

The search for a game to fill the upcoming blank midweek could see Mossley80 make a departure from the world of non-league football for the first time. The intended destination will remain veiled for the time being (not that it’s anything remotely special) as it’s all dependent on the frost not taking a hold.

If it does, and with the only alternative being the Woodley – FC U of NM League Cup game, I wouldn’t expect a match report on anything on Wednesday.

Ein Miserablen Woche

Finally! Another week comes that did my blood pressure no good at comes to a welcome end.

It got off to a fantastic start at Lambeth Grove last week with Mossley's ruthlessly efficient dismantling of Woodley Sports but then along came Monday and... ... no. On the off chance that somebody at work actually knows I do this blog, I'm not going to finish that sentence as I like having money before Christmas.

Apropos of nothing though I will say that over the past number of days I've had an inkling into how the citizens of Rome must have felt when the rumours of Nero sound tracking the fires on his lyre started.

It's at times like this I wish I worked for the Maplewood Police Department in Minnesota because it looks like it's a barrel of laughs there. I mean, how long do you think they waited for the reporter in the following clip to go live before they started removing certain pieces of evidence from the house they'd just raided?

I wonder if that was the battering ram the reporter mentioned in the piece?

Any hopes of the new week getting off to just as good a start as the last one don't appear to be too promising at the moment, with the weather threatening the prospects of Mossley putting in a repeat performance against Woodley in the rematch at Seel Park.

The word at last night's quiz was that the pitch was still suffering the effects of the weather experienced earlier in the week and I doubt the temperature plunging into minus figures overnight helped any. Especially with similar frosty forecast for tonight.

There's plenty of time for things to warm up though and I for one hope it's on, not just for the football, but to see Channel M film the match.

As you'll know from their recent visits, the camera has either taken up a spot in front of the main stand or, on occasions, in the bus shelter. This time however after investigating into its feasibility, they're apparently going to be taking a more 'elevated' view of the match.

I don't want to say anything in case it doesn't happen but we can only be thankful that, with the position they're reportedly going to be in, Woodley are the visitors and not Garforth or they'd spend most of the game looking like coconuts flying off a shy.

And given what's likely to be the very, very close proximity of the section of the crowd prone to using flowery language, it's possible that this could be the first non-league highlights package shown on Channel M that's either soundless or only shown after midnight; something it almost certainly will be if last weeks loud discussions into what was on offer to eat in the Woodley boardroom takes place again.

I suppose the week wasn't all bad though. City won in Germany, 'Those At The Back' finished second in the quiz and I know that no matter how bad things get I will never be as sad as those people stood outside Ashton Market Hall at six-thirty this morning waiting for it to re-open.

Woodley Sports 1 - 4 Mossley

Now with small, slightly blurred photos in the form of slideshow.

After hitting what was arguably the lowest point of the season with a defeat at home to bottom of the table Salford, the prospects of Mossley picking up anything against a team second in the league and then a bogey side over the course of the next seven days weren't particularly high.

However, and as if to prove the cliché about a week being a long time in football true, the Lilywhites followed up an impressive performance in their midweek victory over high flying Bamber Bridge with a display of equal calibre to claim a comprehensive win at Lambeth Grove, the home of Stockport side Woodley Sports.

It was a win that was effectively decided within the space of five first half minutes as well. A period during which Mossley found the back of of goalkeeper Ben Connett's net on no less than three occasions.

There was little Connett could do though but stand and watch as Danny Self got the blitz under way in spectacular fashion in the 17th minute. Twenty yards out and stood almost with his back to goal, Self acrobatically span and looped a loose ball past the stranded keeper and into the top corner of the net.

Self was also instrumental in Mossley's second goal. Picking up Danny Egan's intelligent through ball, the former Maine Roadplayer burst into the box only to be felled by one, or possibly both, of the Woodley players who'd converged on him. The referee showed no hesitation signalling a penalty and after a short delay while remonstrations were waved away, Egan calmly sent Connett the wrong way from the spot to register his ninth goal of the campaign.

Less than sixty seconds later the third goal arrived and contained elements from opposite ends of the football quality spectrum. The ridiculous, a woefully misjudged thirty five back pass by Adam Morning, gave way to the sublime as Danny Dignan brought the intercepted ball under control with his first touch and with his second, lifted it superbly over the onrushing Connett.

It was forehead slapping stuff from the officials too. Well, at least one of them. Even though it was a Woodley player (at the time of writing) who kicked the ball to Dignan while he made his way back up the pitch from a previous attack, the linesman stuck his flag up for offside. Thankfully the referee knew the correct laws of the game and, after allowing play to continue, explained them to his assistant as both teams lined up for the restart.

The home side managed to make it to the interval without suffering further embarrassment but they should have also gone in at the break with one goal to their credit. That they didn't though was down to Gavin Salmon replicating the form he showed in his brief stint at Seel Park by somehow conspiring to head wide of an open goal in injury time.

Not unexpectedly, Woodley's approach to the second half was to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Lilywhites in attempt to rescue the game. They barely scratched the visitors back line though, let alone make a significant dent, as Mossley's resolute defending confined them exclusively to trying their luck with speculative shots from a distance that was never going to cause keeper, and captain for the day, Andy Robertson any problems.

If anything it was still Mossley who always looked the more likely to be the next team to score and that they didn't was down to a combination of some very near misses and a few eyebrow raising offside decisions. In fact the assistant referees flag was proving to be Woodley's best defender as their back four, along with the linesman, continually struggled to deal with the pace and movement of Dignan and Egan.

They got no respite either when the two Danny's were eventually replaced by Matty Berkley and Michael Fish late on in the game, and both combined set up the fourth goal for Mossley's first substitution of the afternoon, Lee Blackshaw; the winger stroking the into an unguarded net from the edge of the six yard box.

Hopes of a second consecutive clean sheet for the Lilywhites looked to have been guaranteed when Robertson pulled off a fantastic save to deny Jarrett, but they where quashed when Daniel Queeley scored from the penalty spot with what turned out to be the penultimate kick of the game.

Any lustre it took off Mossley's performance though would only be noticeable if you were to look at it a sub-atomic level because after a display like this one, it takes more than a late consolation goal to dampen the optimism the preceding ninety plus minutes.

To put it simply Mossley were Apoidea’s ginglymus joint.

They just picked up from where they left off at the QED Stadium four days earlier and ran Woodley ragged.

Once again the two Danny’s were an ever present threat upfront and the first line of defence, Weston and Kelly were dominant in midfield, Self and Hirst ran their socks off and the back four (plus one even further back) looked unflustered. Even the one change forced upon us through Graham Kay’s suspension failed to knock the defence from their stride as Kristian Bowden slotted into the centre half position and looked like he'd been playing their all season.

All backed up by one of the subs line-up we’ve had in years, meaning that we now have a team/squad where you have to fight for a place and the players are responding to it in the best way possible.

The only upcoming problem I can foresee is that Woodley are our next opponents as well in the return fixture at Seel Park.

Whilst it's nice that the manner of their complete and utter defeat will still be fresh in their memories, it would have been even better if a longer period of time had been allowed to pass so that the petty grudges built up through flailing arms and late tackles had time to fade away, instead of being put off for a week.

Not just for the possible state of our players health at 16:45 on Saturday but their goalkeepers too. At least his mental state that is because after his 'spat' with Mossley supporters towards the end of this game, it could turn out to be an aurally unpleasant afternoon for him.

That’s for another day though and for the time being it’s best to just concentrate on this one. One which sees us sitting outside the play-offs on goal difference and just six points behind the leaders, only a week after we were in mid-table and heading in a downwards direction because of our fourth defeat on the bounce.

Football. Unfathomable isn’t it?

Bamber Bridge 0 - 2 Mossley

Unfortunately time constraints mean that this is going to be a relatively short report compared to what usually appears on here. It's a damn nuisance too because this game, or rather Mossley's performance in it, is one I could spend hours enthusing about.

Without a point from the four games played in the first half of the month, November was rapidly in danger of becoming the period on the calendar which marked Mossley's transformation from a top of the table side into one of the also rans in the lower reaches of the league.

At least that was the case until two unanswered goals at Bamber Bridge's QED Stadium ensured that the Lilywhites not only returned to winning ways but put the brakes on their slide down the Unibond First Division as well.

And while a 2 – 0 scoreline registered against a side sitting second in the league is impressive in itself, it's one that doesn't come close to accurately reflecting the gap that existed between the two teams on the pitch. I say gap, it was more like a gulf at times.

The first goal came towards the end of an opening period that, a tentative start aside, Mossley dominated. The abundance of pace in their forward line and the variety of attacking options available on the pitch were causing the home side no end of problems, but it was from a simple set-piece that the Lilywhites finally got the reward their first half efforts deserved; Graham Kay rising between two defenders at the far post to power Alex Mortimer's delivery from a free-kick low past Andy Banks in the Bridge goal.

The second half saw no let up in pressure from Mossley as they began to turn the screw even more on an increasingly hapless looking home defence. Chances came and went with a dizzying speed, so many in fact that even though Mossley80 is no stranger to the lengthy match report, there's no way on earth I'm listing the number of opportunities the visitors created, spurned or were denied profiting from by some very good goalkeeping.

With a tad more luck it's entirely possible that Mossley could have got their goal difference back to how it was three weeks and thirteen goals ago.

No matter how well you're playing though, holding a one goal lead is always a precarious position to be in – you're only a momentary loss of concentration away from having your advantage wiped out. Therefore any fears there were of Bridge somehow managing to claw their way back into a game they were only bit part players in eased significantly in the 78th minute.

Michael Fish had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when, twenty yards from goal, he curled the ball through a crowded penalty and past the despairing dive of Banks to finally give the Lilywhites the breathing space their endeavours deserved. It wasn't as good as his strike from practically the same spot in last season's corresponding fixture but it wasn't far off either.

In fact if Fish had scored it for FCUB, Halifax, Boston, Wakefield or any of the countless other clubs who have goals and match footage uploaded regularly to supposedly 'against league rules' video sharing websites, there'd be a whole host of people around the world saying how good it was. As the likes of Mossley aren't allowed to do that though you're going to have to take my word, and the word of everyone else who was there, that it was a pip and a dandy.

We may have beaten bigger teams with bigger score lines since August but this was probably the best ninety minutes of football we've played for a good while.

While it's hard not to get to carried away after seeing the side you support run rings around a team from the upper echelons of the league, you have to keep reminding yourself not to go overboard. However a bit of optimism doesn't go amiss every now and again and if (and it's a humongous if I grant you) Mossley can repeat what they did in Preston on even a semi-regular basis then we'll be in for a very good final two thirds of the season.

Undoubtedly some people will view Andy Robertson's return to the number one position in this game and the subsequent clean sheet as linked but the real reason for Mossley's improved defensive performance lies further up the pitch.

The difference having two combative midfielders in the centre of the park made was extraordinary and it was the pairing of Kelly and Weston rather than a change in goalkeepers which saw Mossley look more solid than they have done recently. Not only did they protect the back four they provided a platform to build attack after attack from too.

It would be wrong to single out these two players as the sole reason for our return to points collecting though as no one in an orange (or green) shirt put in anything less than a very good performance. From the front where the two Danny's chased and harassed the Brig defence all night to our solid showing across the back we were, frankly, brilliant.

It's entirely possible that Jericho's wall may come crashing down to the sound of Woodley's horn on Saturday but at least we'll head to Plastic Land knowing what we can do when we click and the confidence that brings.

And finally, a big thank you to the players for not only the result but coming across to clap the supporters at the end. It's a small thing but it's never not appreciated.

Mossley 2 - 3 Salford City

Apart from a few sides at the uttermost ends of the football spectrum, that is the extremely bad and the extremely good, a season for most sides is akin to a sine wave – a series of highs and lows with a constantly shifting frequency.

With this in mind, at this precise moment it's fair to say that after riding an early season peak, Mossley are currently barrelling down the slope of a deep trough. The depressing thing is that there's no visible point where you can see the slope flattening out either.

Given the nature of their upcoming fixtures between now and the New Year, this game, against a side rock bottom of the league and without a win in it, technically represented Mossley's best chance of halting their losing streak.

However, for the second week running Mossley's inability to kill teams off when they were comfortably on top in a game was to prove costly once more as profligacy in attack, along with a considerable amount of charity in defence, allowed Salford to record their first victory in the league this season.

And the frightening nature of their near surrender after the interval leaves you seriously wondering where those next points are going to come from.

There was no foreshadowing of what was to happen after the break when the match got under way as straight from the kick-off the Lilywhites looked determined to put their recent run of bad results behind them. In doing so they exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on their opponents goal, fashioning a succession of chances from some fantastic build-up play down both wings.

Initially the chances were going begging as players narrowly missed out on applying the finishing touches but when they finally did start connecting with the stream of through balls and crosses being played into the box, the Salford goal began to live a charmed life.

At least it did until the 19th minute when Christian Hirst fed Lee Blackshaw's low cross into the path of Danny Egan and the former Macclesfield player slipped the ball under Martin Campbell to give the Lilywhites a thoroughly merited lead.

Danny Egan receives the congratulations of his team mates after netting the opener.

That changed though eight minutes later when Danny Toronczak found himself alone with the ball at his feet on the edge of the Mossley penalty area, the home team's defence seemingly having gone AWOL. It was an open invitation to score that the ex-Lilywhite forward had no qualms in accepting and he calmly slotted the ball past Ashley Connor to give the visitors a surprise equaliser.

The goal saw Mossley redouble their efforts as an attacking force and within seconds of the restart the City back line were literally throwing themselves in front of the ball as the Lilywhites began to pepper their goal with shots. On the occasions their efforts proved ineffective, goalkeeper Campbell was turning out to be a more formidable barrier.

He was confined to the role of a worried spectator though when on two occasions during a sequence of six consecutive corners, his defence went spectacularly close to putting Mossley back in front. The first saw Marsh hammer the ball into the side netting and fropm the resulting corner his partner in the centre of City's defence, Pollock, scooped an attempted clearance over his own head and onto the crossbar.

As half-time approached though the home side failed to heed the lesson about leaving their opponents unmarked from the first goal and the consequence proved damaging. It was Toronczak once more who was afforded acres of space to bring a long ball under control, only this time he was upended by the onrushing Connor before he could get his shot away. The awarding of a penalty came as no surprise and neither did Toronczak's conversion of it.

Ashley Connor floors Toronczak for the penalty.

When the teams went off at the interval there was no reason to think why Mossley couldn't get back into the game but the expected onslaught of Campbell's goal after the break never materialised. Instead, for every bit as a good as they were in the first half, the Lilywhites were the complete opposite in the second and they looked a beaten side straight from the restart.

And that's exactly what they became in the 58th minute when Salford's impressive start to the second period, one which had seen them go close to extending their lead on more than a couple of occasions, was rewarded with a third goal. Once again, the ease in which it came was disturbing as Nathan McDonald was allowed to run through a host of motionless white shirts to glance home a free-kick floated into the box by Lathan Forrester.

A series of changes to both the Mossley personnel and formation only had the effect of looking like chaos theory was being employed as a way of salvaging the game – the “if we're unsure of what we're doing, our opponents will have even less idea” gambit. I know it wasn't intentional but as players drifted from one position to another (at one memorable point three of them occupied the same small space on the pitch) shape and a plan of attack became an alien concept.

By the time the things had settled down and the changes had begun to take effect, the match was virtually over. A late rally by the Lilywhites saw Danny Egan notch his second goal of the game and halve the arrears but it was too little too late. If anything, instead of giving Mossley a boost for the closing moments of the match it seemed to inspire Salford more and if Barry Massey hadn't wasted two gilt edged chances, and I mean a couple of point and laugh misses, their winning margin would have been much greater than one.

As I mentioned a few hundred words ago it's hard to see where the next point is going to come from, especially if we can't stop fingering the self-destruct button that somehow manages to attach itself to all Mossley sides – enabling us to lose games that looked an impossibility to do so.

It can be argued that luck, or rather the absence of it, is also playing a role in our current tribulations but the recent run of defeats can't solely be put down to a lack of good fortune. Poor marking? Yes. Not taking our domination of games to its logical conclusion? Yes. Spurning chances? Yes. An inability to deal with a forward line containing a modicum of pace? Yes. Because someone walked under a ladder or smashed a mirror? Highly unlikely.

Whatever, the situation we currently find ourselves in now is that out of the last twenty four points available we've managed to take just five. Of course, in some of those games we've faced sides such as Newcastle and Halifax who are expected to be challenging for honours come April, but conversely, in Salford and Garforth we've come a cropper to struggling teams because of the same failings: converting chances and preventing our opponents from doing likewise.

Hopefully the form we exhibited in the early stages of the season will make a welcome return over the course of the next month. If it does then as well as going a long way to securing our place in this league, we can maybe upset the apple cart for a few teams with promotion on their minds and possibly reignite our hopes of moving upwards too.

If it doesn't then I think we may be in for our third consecutive long winter. Albeit one with better football to watch during our 'good' patches.

Events at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday may give us a pointer as to which of the two paths it is we end up heading down...

"Stop Getting Bond Wrong!"

Hmm. What to write about to keep the blog ticking over till the next report is posted.

I could do a preview of the upcoming game with Salford and, with their new manager team, and ponder the likelihood of them picking up their first league win of the season at Seel Park; the kind of thing Mossley have been very charitable about in the past.

There's the option of doing a piece on how the Manchester Evening News managed to spell Mossley wrong during the week, or a much longer essay on why the Reporter decided reports on Glossop Under Nine matches are more important than those played by the Lilywhites (and yes, they did get one for the Trafford game).

Instead though I'm simply going to use this opportunity to say that if you're going to see the new James Bond film - don't!

Now I'm a big James Bond fan and I firmly believe there's no such thing as a bad OO7 movie. Okay, maybe Die Another Day had a few scenes that could curl the toes on a cadaver, but as someone who counts the much derided Moonraker as one of their favourites, Quantum of Solace is pretty average - the film just 'happens' leaving you feeling none the richer for having seen it when you leave the cinema.

Admittedly it's probably the most action packed film there has been in the series but surprisingly that turns out not to be a good thing. The king of action films is John Woo's 'Hard Boiled' which continually tops itself for sheer audacity throughout its two hours, but it does give you breathing time between the set pieces.

Quantum of Solace on the other hand is pretty much relentless and in being so, the adrenalin runs out very quickly and doesn't return. This isn't particularly helped by some editing in the opening half-hour that's nearly insane. Shots are cut so quickly that I swear some of them finish before they've begun.

It's not all bad though - the theme song is terrible.

There are some redeeming features - like I said, there's no such thing as a bad Bond film. A sequence at the opera is very well done, even if the montage in the middle of it is redolent of many other movies, and a few of the small amount of character moments are good especially one of the early Bolivia ones.

In the end though it's a film that could have been really good but isn't.

And this why I advise you that if you're going to the pictures this weekend (and you're over 18 and not easily offended), see Zack and Miri instead. It's funny, heart warming and should the question ever pop up in a game of Trivial Pursuit, you'll find out what a Dutch Rudder is.

To finish with Bond though, and to tie things in with the heading to this post, here's Alan Partridge's re-creation of the opening to the best 007 film ever (we have none of that Goldfinger nonsense here at Mossley80):

And finally, what the new film should have been?

Trafford 3 - 1 Mossley

If a week is a long time in politics, the same length of time can seem like an eternity in football if you’re on a losing streak.

November may be only eight days old but if it continues in the way it has started for Mossley, it's a month they'll be hoping to see the end of sooner rather than later as they fell to their third successive defeat in little over a week - the latest coming at Shawe View, home of Trafford FC.

The Lilywhites were the games early pacesetters and took a deserved lead from the spot after only eight minutes. Matty Berkeley's clever spin and drag back bamboozled Lee Southwood into unceremoniously upending the St Kitts & Nevis international in the corner of the box, leaving the referee with no option other than to award a penalty kick which Michael Fish duly converted.

The visitors continued to pile forward in search of more goals but not for the first time this season, the copious amounts possession they enjoyed in and around their opponents penalty area wasn't turned into anything more than the occasional half-chance.

This inability to press home their advantage was again to prove costly. Trafford slowly began to build up a head of steam and their sightings of Ashley Connor's goal grew with increasing regularity before the game was to swing in their favour with an incident seven minutes before the interval.

In his attempts to stop Andy Lundy from having a clean run on goal as he broke through the visitors back line, Graham Kay's legs became entangled with those of Trafford forward and after Lundy had crashed to the floor, the referee produced the red card from his pocket and dismissed the Mossley captain for a professional foul.

Lee Blackshaw was the attacking player sacrificed so that a defender could be brought on to fill the gap in the back four, but it was through the position vacated by the Mossley winger that Trafford brought themselves back into the game.

Two minutes into time added on at the end of the first half, Kayde Coppin took full advantage of the space now available down the Lilywhites left hand side and charged to the touchline before cutting the ball back to the near post where Scott Barlow was on hand to tap the ball home.

Despite a positive opening to the second period in which Rhys Kelly and Berkeley went close to edging them ahead, the game started to slip away from Mossley when the half was ten minutes old. Barlow, the league's leading scorer, was given the time and space to carry the ball along the edge of the Mossley penalty area before picking his spot and firing a shot across Connor and into the net.

With the onus now on Mossley to throw men forward in an attempt to secure an equaliser, their numerical disadvantage left them even more susceptible to a breakaway goal and after a couple of very close calls that's precisely what happened in the the 66th minute. Once again it was Barlow who applied the finishing touch to a pacey Trafford move and, in doing so, completed both his hat-trick and virtually ensured that the Lilywhites would be heading home pointless.

To Mossley's credit they didn't resign themselves to the defeat and with fifteen minutes of the game left Christian Hirst went incredibly close to halving the deficit, but with Trafford looking dangerous on the break every time a move for the visitors broke down, what would have been a memorable comeback never really looked in any danger of happening.

So, just as we can rightly rail against the injustice of our defeat at Halifax on Tuesday, we can have no complaints at being the runners up in this fixture. We started the game well and, indeed, we finished it well too – it’s the bit in-between that was the problem.

There are a few issues to be had with some of the officiating but none of them relate to Graham Kay’s sending off. In the ten minutes or so prior to his dismissal we’d come dangerously close to being undone on a few occasions by one of the forwards bursting through the middle, and in some ways the red card seemed an almost inevitable consequence of our failure to cope with it.

Though there were a few people who said as much at the time, the gift of hindsight tells us that sacrificing Lee Blackshaw in order to put a defender on the pitch to fill the gap at the back was probably the wrong option. Not only was the ‘Glossop Express’ one of our better players on the afternoon it also seemed to leave us unbalanced in midfield and as we’ve seen this season, it’s an area of the pitch where most games, in the main, have been won and lost.

It’s easy to be wise after the event though and you’ve got to admire the bold decision in not taking one of the forwards off to compensate for the lack of numbers at the back, but ultimately the decision didn’t help us. To be fair though there’s no guarantee that the result would have been any different had an alternative substitution been made.

Trafford were getting on top before they scored and the second goal certainly had nothing to do with a lack of bodies on the pitch – just a lack of tackling.

With players slowly starting to move off the injury list and back into contention for a spot on the team sheet, it’s safe to say (although it’s also tempting fate) that there should be some improved displays over the coming weeks, and not a moment too soon either if you’ve seen the fixture list between now and the New Year.

I can vaguely recall an adage that says you can learn more about a side in adversity than in triumph and after no points, one goal for and ten against in three games the Mossley management will certainly have been subjected to quite the info dump.

If there’s one really good thing to come from the three defeats it’s that it will have dampened down expectations for this season to a more realistic level. Yes, it would be nice to be at the top of the table throwing our weight around with the other promotion contenders but without the funds to sustain an instant tilt at the title, its better that we learn to walk before we run.

Re-reading the last sentence I have feeling that it may not make a lot of sense but having seen the visitor statistics for this site over the last week, I’ll be the only person reading it so I don’t think that it really matters all that much.

Roll on Saturday then and hopefully we’ll see a performance where we’re tighter at the back, a bit more forceful and proactive in midfield and able to fashion more than the odd half-chance at the sharp end of the pitch.

I won’t be too upset if we don’t but on the other hand I don’t want to see a Salford side containing a smattering of ex-Lilywhites pick up their first league win of the season at Seel Park either.

FC Halifax Town 2 - 0 Mossley

If the following report appears rambling, repetitious and, frankly, rubbish, (even more so than usual) it's probably because it is.

The reason why is as I write, or rather type, it's a couple of minutes off three in the morning and I've been awake for twenty five and a bit hours straight. I should still be some way off the hallucinations that come with a prolonged lack of sleep but just in case, don't be too concerned if I suddenly start ranting about gorillas in spacesuits wanting to kill us all or type out a transcript of a conversation I'm having with the magical bear that's sitting next to me (he has a yellow hat).

I probably should have waited till I'd had at least a couple of minutes sleep before starting this recollection of events at The Shay but I might as well do it while it's fresh in the memory. Besides, it gives me something to do while I watch the coverage of the US elections.

After their five goal collapse at home to Newcastle at the weekend, the last team Mossley would have wanted to face in their next fixture was one currently on a long unbeaten streak, but in FC Halifax Town that's exactly what they came up against on Tuesday.

And though the scoreline shows that the Lilywhites failed to halt The Shaymen's run of positive results, what it doesn't tell is that it took a scrambled goal in injury time to finally kill off the Lilywhites hopes of rescuing a deserved point from a close game. Not that the early stages of the match gave any indication that that would be the case.

As expected for a side currently racking up the points , Halifax began the match in a mood that suggested they wanted to kill off the game as a contest as soon as possible. It's a wish they might have got as well had it not been for some strong defending from the visitors.

On the few occasions that the Lilywhites back line was breached, keeper Ashley Connor was proving to be an even tougher barrier for them to get past; none more so than when he produced a fingertip save to push a tenth minute shot from Junior Brown around the post.

For all the pressure they were exerting though, the home side weren't having things all their own way. The best chance of the half, in open play at least, fell Mossley's way and came when a series of one touch passes put Matty Berkeley clean through on goal but the forward snatched at his shot and hooked it wide of the goal with only the keeper to beat.

Matty Berkeley ponders what might have been...

The longer the half wore on the more it looked like the sides would be going in at the break level but that all changed when Halifax were awarded, what was from a Mossley perspective at least, a contentious penalty.

Not only did left-back Nick Challinor appear to have won the ball cleanly in a challenge with Cavell Coo, the incident also seemed to have taken place outside the Mossley box. After the lengthy protests had been waved away John Smith stepped up to the spot and stroked the ball past Connor to put his side ahead.

The goal gave the home side a visible boost and the Lilywhites survived more than a few close calls before the arrival of the interval, and in the five minutes immediately after it as well.

Following that initial flurry of action at the start of the second period the game slowly began to turn Mossley's way; the introduction at half-time of substitutes Ryan Cook and Daryl Weston adding some steel to the Lilywhites midfield and, as a consequence, wrestled a greater share of the possession away from their opponents. And with this increase came a growth in the number of chances that began to fall the Lilywhites way.

Weston had a shot bundled off the line, Michael Fish and Christian Hirst forced keeper Jon Kennedy into making two good reaction saves and numerous other players had efforts that flashed narrowly wide of the goal frame but try as they might - Mossley just couldn't divert the ball into the net.

The moment when they probably realised that it wasn't to be their night came with five minutes left. A powerful run down the right from Hirst ended with the winger finding Cook on the edge of the Halifax box and while his first time shot shot left Kennedy rooted to the spot, it couldn't beat the right hand upright.

Then came the killer blow to the Lancashire sides rapidly fading hopes of claiming what would have been a warranted point. A cheaply conceded free-kick was fired into the Mossley penalty area and after a series of ricochets Brown poked the ball over the line to seal the win.

It's fair to say that I approached this match with a fair amount of trepidation, particularly with the Blue Star match still a gaping and bloodied wound. If we were to repeat the performance from that game then we'd almost certainly be on the receiving end of a pummelling and the prospect of paying £10 to witness such a thing was frightening.

In the end I needn't have been worried. Yes – we lost. But after the way Halifax have strengthened since we beat them in September and the manner in which we've been weakened through departures and injuries, until that last minute goal all that separated the two sides was an extremely dubious penalty.

Naturally some Halifax fans will protest that it was the right decision but in his post match interview even Jim Vince, Town's manager, said that it wasn't a penalty and the fact that the referee started to give Mossley a few debatable decisions in its immediate aftermath (although none quite as generous as that penalty award) suggests that he'd realised he'd made an enormous cock-up.

In the end though if Mossley had taken just a small percentage of the chances they created, and likewise Halifax in the first half, the spot kick would just be a small footnote in the match. Unfortunately some good goalkeeping, allied with in parts some poor finishing and final balls, ensured that we drew a blank for the second game running.

If you were to glance at the Halifax websites you'd be under the impression that Mossley's improvement in the second half came as a result of The Shaymen choosing to sit deep. This does the Lilywhites an enormous disservice though as it lessens the obvious impact the introduction of Messrs Cook and Weston had at half-time.

To use a cliché, by simply getting “stuck in” they completely disrupted Halifax's game plan which up to that point had been serviced by their midfield's ability to move the ball around the centre of the pitch relatively unchecked. By denying them space Town had no option but to move the ball back towards their own goal before it was hurriedly unleashed up the pitch to no-one in particular as the defence was closed down.

Halifax stewards make one of their twice-a-minute patrols of the more rebellious element of the Mossley support

At the moment on TV John McCain is delivering his concession speech and in closing this report, I've got to echo in some way what he's saying about his election campaign and America, but transpose it three and a half thousand miles or so eastwards to football and yesterday evenings events in West Yorkshire – the battle might have been lost but there's no need for despondency as the future looks good.

Now to try and get some much needed sleep and it may be just that little bit easier now that I know someone who recently voluntarily had witches cast from her isn't a heartbeat away from the nuclear trigger.

Leopold: Don't forget to save it before you switch your computer off.

Me: Oh yes, thanks! I almost forgot. By the way, your hat has fallen off...

Mossley 0 - 5 Newcastle Blue Star

Halloween appeared to arrive at Seel Park a day later than the rest of the country as visitors Newcastle Blue Star showed a few tricks and treated themselves to five goals and three points in as one sided a game as you're likely to see all season.

The game started badly for the home side with Blue Star putting them under pressure straight from the kick-off, and it went steadily downhill from there, attaining the label of disastrous in the 28th minute; Newcastle effectively ending the game as a contest before even a third of it had elapsed when Paul Brayson, in addition to earlier strikes by Darren Craddock and David McTiernan, put the men from Tyneside three goals up.

That the scoreline was no different when half-time arrived was the one bright spot for Mossley at the end of the opening period. However there was to be no respite after the interval as within sixty seconds of the restart, three became four.

Receiving the ball twenty five yards from goal, Chris Emms was given the time and space to loft it accurately over three defenders and the goalkeeper for what would have been the goal of the game had Newcastle's fifth of the afternoon not surpassed it ten minutes later.

Brayson initially looked to have missed the chance of doubling his account when, in a race for possession with Mossley keeper Ashley Connor, his heavy touch appeared to have sent the ball off for a goal kick. A sudden turn of speed however enabled him to stop it dead on the touchline and from the acutest angle possible on a football pitch, the Blue Star forward somehow managed to steer the ball past two covering defenders and into the goal.

With a little over twenty minutes of the game remaining Newcastle keeper Dan Lawson was finally called on to do something other than sweep up over hit long balls, the visitor's custodian having to make a smart reaction save stop a header from Michael Fish sneaking past him. He looked a little less convincing a short time later when he almost fumbled a Scott Holt cross into his own net but he wasn't to be tested any further in the game.

The scoreline could have had an even more emphatic look for the visitors had they taken just a fraction of their chances in the closing stages of the game, but the welcome sound of the final whistle, at least it was welcomed from a Mossley perspective, ensured that their tally would remain at just the five.

Whether things would have been any different if Mossley had been able to field something approaching their first choice eleven, rather than another reshuffled line-up brought about by the injury crisis that is currently enveloping the club, is probably a moot point as if Newcastle's performance in this game was indicative of how they play every match, I doubt that many sides in this division, even those operating at full strength, will better them over the course of the season.

And to be honest, when a club allegedly has a weekly wage bill that's equivalent to the GDP of a medium sized African nation, you'd certainly expect them to be good.

Then again it's hard to judge precisely just how good they were because of Mossley's total ineffectiveness over the course of the ninety minutes. Despite the aforementioned caveat regarding our current predicament there's no denying that there was a touch of the horror show from the home side, and it was one which made The Exorcist look like an episode of Father, Dear Father*.

As somebody said at the match, losing to five unanswered goals isn't the problem – it's the manner in which you do and with the exception of a few players, we struggled to avoid being third best in what was a two horse race.

Not for the first, second or even third time this season we've come up against a side who've closed us down quickly and in doing so won the game because we've been unable to counteract it. Instead we just seem to drop deeper and deeper and hope that we can make something out of a succession of long punts up the pitch to an increasingly isolated front line.

You've got to have some sympathy for Ashley Connor too. After standing behind the most porous back line in Mossley's recent history (and in doing so playing an instrumental role in our goals against column not hitting the 200 mark last season), he must have been suffering more flashbacks than 'Nam veteran on the Fourth of July on his return to the club.

None of the blame for the goals can be placed solely on his shoulders as they were either the result of a brilliant finish and some good build-up play or defending that wouldn't have looked out of place in a two reeler from Mack Sennet's studios.

With a trip to the rapidly improving Shaymen of Halifax next up for the Lilywhites it's to be hoped that this result, injuries or not, is the shock to the system Mossey needed in order to rediscover their early season form. If it doesn't act like the metaphorical bucket of cold water though, and the cavalry remain on the injury list, we could be in for a long night in West Yorkshire this Tuesday.

What may happen is all conjecture though and to end an upbeat note, as the Roman philosopher Horace once said:

"Live as brave men and face adversity with stout hearts."

In doing so you just never know what might transpire on the other side of the Pennines in a couple of days time...

* Other similies considered for this bit included:
  • Nightmare On Elm Street/In The Night Garden
  • Shining/Bananas In Pyjamas
  • Cannibal Holocaust/Ready Steady Cook
  • Hostel/Holiday programme
  • Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisp/Frasier