Mossley 0 - 2 Radcliffe Borough

In recent seasons I've become aware of two little things that indicate that the football season must have started again.

The first clue is a home match that looks as though it's being played beneath the world's biggest power shower, while the second is that I feel an air of depression slowly descending.

As most of you are fully aware by now I'm a glass half-empty kind of person but even I was surprised at how soon I emitted my first weary sigh of the season. It was around the midway point of the first half when Michael Fish was expected to get on the end of a huge punt up field played by somebody stood ten yards behind him on the halfway line.

Still, it wouldn't be football if there wasn't an early pin prick of reality to burst the bubble of optimism you've desperately been trying to blow up for months.

Initially it had looked like Mossley would carry on from where they'd left off at Shawbridge three days earlier when, two minutes into the game, Michael Fish dropped a looping shot onto the roof of the net. The home side ended the half brightly too with Fish bringing a smart save out of Radcliffe keeper Greg Hall from a similar position on the edge of the box and a corner being headed just over the cross bar from Nick Boothby.

Unfortunately though the 41 minutes between these two incidents were almost exclusively confined to the Mossley half of the pitch. In no small part aided by the home sides decision to sit incredibly deep - leaving Fish floundering alone up front as the sole focus of both Mossley's attacks and the Radcliffe back four's attention - Borough's continual harrying of anyone wearing a white shirt while in possession of the ball not only forced Mossley even further back towards their own goal, but into making some elementary mistakes as well.

Andy Waine was the first of the visitors to try his luck in the fifth minute with an effort that flashed across the face of Liam Higginbotham's goal and inches past the far post. An identical fate befell a shot from Lee Connell eight minutes later but for all their possession and attempts, it wasn't until the 35th minute that they actually called the Mossley goalkeeper into making a save; Higginbotham producing a point blank stop to prevent Michael Oates from putting Borough ahead.

Immediately following the interval Mossley appeared slightly more pro-active in their attempts to fashion a goal. Leon Henry shot narrowly wide from distance and twice from corners the Lilywhites flashed headers past the post.

However any momentum that the Lilywhites may have been building was soon lost through a combination of Radcliffe's pressing game plan and some sloppy football from the hosts. At times Mossley were their own worst enemy and this was no more evident than in the build up to the opening goal of the game. Having rode their luck numerous times after they'd surrendered possession cheaply (one shot ricocheting off the upright and Oates spurning a glorious chance with a free header), it eventually ran out in the 69th minute.

A careless pass to no-one when Mossley looked to be building an attack allowed Radcliffe to counter, and with the home defence caught cold, Mark Jones added the finishing touch to Waines' smart through ball by slipping it under the advancing Higginbotham.

The Lilywhites could offer little in response and the victory was sealed for the side from the borough of Bury in the 78th minute. Mossley needlessly conceded a free-kick close to their own touchline and from the resultant cross Michael Oates rose unmarked on the edge of the six yard box (causing numerous supporters to suffer flashbacks to a whole host of last season's games) to head home.

The closing stages saw Mossley push forward in search of what would be little more than a consolation goal but Hall was never in any danger of being denied his first clean sheet of the campaign.

There was a really deflated atmosphere at the final whistle. Presumably through people trying to tally what they'd seen in pre-season to what they'd just witnessed. The difference between the two being so marked that even Ray Charles could see it. And he's been dead for a few years now!

Everything that was good about Mossley in the friendlies and, from what I'm told, in the match at Clitheroe, was absent without leave in this game. The neat, attractive passing game that worked so well in the warm-up matches was all too often replaced with a big boot up field in the general direction of the increasingly isolated figure of Michael Fish; food and drink for the people charged with marking him.

I'm not going to sit here though and list all the negatives about Mossley's performance in what was only the second competitive game they've played but, on the other hand, I can't pretend that Mossley were anything other than poor. It is after all a match report and not a work of fiction (although there are one or two clubs that can't differentiate between the two). And while I could write that we were desperately unlucky and we deserved at least a point, it would be the literary equivalent of sprinkling flea powder on the Eiffel Tower in the hope of passing it off as a dog – both pointless and an insult to the intelligence of everyone who could see precisely what it was.

That's not to say that there weren't some positives. The new kit, for instance, looked very nice and the bus shelter is on its way to being habitable again in the near future. Seriously though, Fish worked his proverbial socks off for the team while the odds were stacked against him (one against four) while Lee Blackshaw was probably the pick of the players trying to help him .

In the end though it was a victory that even the most blinkered of home fans would be hard pressed to begrudge Borough; we were relegated to second best in too many areas of the pitch for it not to be otherwise. And it's a result that will give Mossley's new management team plenty of food for thought as they head into the busy Bank Holiday weekend.

Like everyone else though I'll take comfort in the fact that we're still a new team and blips are to be expected. It's when they turn into Zeppelin sized blimps that we should be worried. So until then its perseverance and patience while we iron out the creases, take a rasp to the burrs, cement the cracks or any one of the countless number of similes applicable to this situation.

Nil desperandum. Yet.

With that over with it's time for the 'highlights' – a term I use with some hesitation: