Mossley 3 - 1 Ramsbottom United

Well this is a refreshing novelty – reporting on a win in a cup match.

Prior to this meeting with Ramsbottom United it had been almost two years since Mossley had last won a game in any knock-out competition. And not wishing to run the risk of setting my pants on fire with untruths, I've got to say that at half-time in this FA Cup tie it seriously looked like a statistic that we would be carrying into our FA Trophy fixture against Stocksbridge in October.

Not only were the Lilywhites North West Counties League opponents one-up at the interval, they'd had enough opportunities, if taken, to have made the second half nothing more than a formality.

Both sides had cancelled one another out in the initial stages of the game but as Mossley started to labour against a well regimented defence, the visitors, mainly through the tireless running of the impressive Andrew Sensale, slowly began to poke holes in the home sides back line. Despite the numerous half-chances they created it was still something of a surprise when they took the lead through James Morley in the 29th minute.

It was a goal though that almost opened the proverbial floodgates. Mossley survived a very good claim for a penalty when United's Joshua Hill was felled in the area and Liam Higginbotham did well to push a goal bound effort from the same player onto the post and out of play. Mossley hearts were in mouths as well from the resultant corner when Dawson rose above Graham Kay to head the ball just over the crossbar.

There was a sense of relief around Seel Park when Mossley managed to reach half-time only one goal down but whatever was said in the Lilywhites dressing room had an obvious and immediate effect, transforming the fixture into one of those clichéd 'game of two halves'.

Within sixty seconds of the restart Mossley had done more to threaten United's goal than they had in the previous forty five minutes. Lee Blackshaw had been instrumental in fashioning these early chances and it was through his free-kick in the 50th minute that the home side levelled; the Mossley number eleven swinging the ball through a crowded penalty area and past a static Middlehurst between the Ramsbottom posts.

The goal that edged Mossley ahead arrived not long after and was the result of some neat football between Leon Henry and Danny Egan. The latter applying the finishing touch by smashing it beyond the reach of Middlehurst while half of the Ramsbottom defence stood appealing for an offside that was never ever going to be given.

Unlike the preceding forty five minutes Ramsbottom were getting no joy whatsoever from a side that emerged after the break looking far more organised than had previously been. The big difference between the two halves, at least to me anyway, was that we started to keep things relatively simple. Instead of trying to open up Rammy with some overly elaborate play, the passing became shorter and to feet and pulled the visitors out of their well drilled defensive formation as they attempted to retrieve possession. This gave us gaps to exploit which the midfield did with some surging runs that caused the visitors no end of problems.

Evidence of which is in the goal that sealed Mossley's place in the First Qualifying Round with twenty minutes of the game remaining. It came through Michael Fish chasing down what looked to all intents and purposes like a lost cause, harrying of the visitor's defence into making a series of mistakes which he himself was on hand to punish by rolling the Lilywhites third into an open net.

There were more opportunities for Mossley to put further distance between themselves and their opponents in the remainder of the match, but a heavier defeat would have been unfair on a Ramsbottom side who almost certainly left the field wondering what might have been had they taken their chances in the first half.

So in conclusion: a good performance (at least after the application of jump leads at half-time to get us going), nice weather, £1500 worth of prize money and another FA Cup match in a couple of weeks. Not a bad afternoon at all.

And if you think that the brevity of this report is another refreshing and delightfully welcome novelty then i) I'm deeply hurt and ii) you haven't factored in the four minutes it will take to the watch the highlights from this game. Enjoy it because one of these days I'm going to miss some of, if not all, the goals:

One more thing before I finish though.

Referee's and their assistants often get roundly criticised for their officiating of matches (much of it undeserved) but the man in the middle for this match and, particularly, one of his beflagged (if it's a new word I'm taking full credit) helpers deserve a round of applause for both signalling for assistance and allowing the Mossley medical team to cut across the pitch in order to get to a supporter who collapsed during the first half.

A round of applause that also extends to all those others who came to his assistance as well!