Mossley 3 - 4 Garforth Town

If at some point later on in this match report you get the feeling I'm pulling my punches somewhat, that's because I am.

Some of the scenes in this game coupled with a certain event over the past week which I may touch upon soon, have really got me riled up. I'd love to get it out of my system with a bilious rant but the blog really isn't the medium to do it with; I don't want to write something that I may later regret and in doing so give some over officious and/or egotistical twerp a feeling of smug satisfaction.

Now with that out of the way...

Normally a match in which one side wins by the odd goal in seven would be classed as a “thriller” but despite the presence of some exceptionally well taken goals, to label this game in such a manner would be bestowing it with a status it didn't deserve. That's not to say that it didn't have its moments of high drama, it's just that there was an awful lot of nothingness that filled the space between them. At least on the pitch that is.

Although Garforth almost opened the scoring in the seventh minute through a Duncan Williams shot that was turned expertly over the crossbar by Mossley keeper Liam Higginbotham, the majority of the early chances fell to the home side. An in swinging corner from Nick Boshell forced Garforth into hurriedly clearing the ball off the line and ex-Lilywhites captain Lee Connor, displaying a turn of pace that shocked those of us who saw him last season, was forced to do the same to stop a Michael Fish shot from entering the net.

The longer the game went on though the more Mossley began to struggle to break down an increasingly crowded visitors defence and just before the half hour point they were hit with a sucker punch. A swift counter attack, assisted in no small part by Leon Henry being manhandled off the ball by not one but two of the visiting players, saw Garforth quickly outnumber the few men in Mossley shirts that hadn't gone up for a corner. The ball eventually made its way to the spare man, Nathan Kamara, who supplied the finish that put 'The Miners' ahead.

Mossley certainly didn't deserve to be behind at the break and it looked like they wouldn't be when with a minute of the half remaining, Michael Fish capitalised on a mix-up between Ben Small and Garforth keeper Gavin Phillips to steal between them and lob the ball into an unguarded net from twenty five yards.

However another Garforth goal deep into added time at the end of the opening period ensured that Mossley would indeed be starting the second half in arrears. This time it was Brett Renshaw who did the damage by hitting a superb volley into the Park End net, although it has to be said that the lack of anyone marking him undoubtedly made his task that tiny bit easier.

And that deficit worse only four minutes into the restart. Once again Mossley's defence was caught and sixes and sevens, this time by nothing more than a long punt up the pitch (you know, just like Brazil), and substitute Andrew Rowan produced a finish that surpassed Renshaw's in terms of execution to fire the ball across Higginbotham and into the bottom corner of the net.

At this point it looked as though the game was beyond Mossley's reach as the invention they'd shown in previous matches this season to unlock packed defences was sadly AWOL. Out of nothing though they were given a foothold back in the game six minutes later when Ryan Cook struck a wonderful 30 yard shot that bounced into the net off the crossbar as Phillips stood waving the ball out for a goal kick.

A renewed belief that they could salvage the game now surged through Mossley but it was to be all too brief. Not only were they thwarted by some poor decision making in the final third of the pitch (and I do mean poor) but also by Town adding another goal to their total. This time it was Greg Kelly who benefited from the Lilywhites cheaply surrendering possession in a good position, and after riding one challenge on the halfway line, there was little to stop him adding a fourth.

With the outcome now looking beyond doubt the game devolved into a series of petty fouls interspersed with large amounts of time-wasting and gamesmanship so incredibly poor that even Dick Dastardly himself would have been appalled. At least that's if he wasn't a non-sentient Hanna-Barbara cartoon character.

At least that was until the ninetieth minute when Nick Boothby scrambled a third goal for Mossley over the line, setting in motion a frantic four minutes of added on time which culminated with the referee somehow managing to miss both Graham Kay being taken clean out by a Town defender as he charged into the box with the ball and a punch being thrown in the ensuing melee.

Whether Mossley deserved a point out of the game is a debate far too lengthy to go into here but they certainly paid the price for not taking their chances when they were on top and allowing themselves to be 'bullied' by a far more physical team. And it's the latter reason which is a cause for concern as it's the common factor between this and the only two other defeats we've suffered this season.

In all three games we've been beaten by opponents whose primary modus operandi is to "get in their faces". By that I mean they continually closed down players and generally make life as difficult as possible for their opponents be it through fair means or by foul. And when it comes to such a thing there's no greater proponent of it than Garforth.

That's not to say that Mossley weren't complicit in their own downfall also. As well as some uncharacteristically poor defending (some of it real schoolboy stuff) we paid the price for some poor decision making at the other end of the pitch: overly ambitious efforts on goal when other players were better placed, wayward passes, poorly delivered and often rushed set pieces, and like the match at Salford there was more than one player whose contribution to the match was less than what was to be expected.

On the positive side we scored three goals without ever coming close to playing as well as we have done in recent weeks but the flip side to that is when you do such a thing, especially at home, you really shouldn't be on the losing side.

However we've certainly seen worse performances at Seel Park since the the first day of January, and I think we all knew that this was never going to be an easy match for Mossley. Garforth's notoriety now precedes them and in this respect we certainly weren't disappointed.

If you can happily watch the football they produce I say good luck to you. If you can support or defend the actions of the manager/owner though I hope football's exit door hits you hard on the way out.

After his behaviour in this game which included amongst other things running to the opposition dug out and celebrating a goal in front of them, I firmly believe that every second this man spends in non-league football is one too many. I'd love to be able to tell you exactly my thoughts on Simon Clifford but I don't want to give him and his over inflated ego the satisfaction of knowing that somebody is going to the trouble of writing about him – even it is less than complimentary.

It's one thing to be graceless in defeat, it's another to exhibit the same traits in victory which is exactly what Garforth did at the final whistle, choosing to celebrate the win by jumping over some of the Mossley players as they made their way from the pitch.

There's a saying that goes be nice to people on the way up as you may meet them again on the way down. Garforth on the other hand, as evidenced by numerous comments on forums and message boards around the league, are making enemies without going anywhere. Therefore when Town finally get their comeuppance (as all teams invariably do from time to time) you're going to see the greatest outburst of schadenfreude since John Terry and Ronaldo missed penalties in the Champions League Cup Final shoot out.

If this is path they're wilfully choosing to venture down then so be it. They just shouldn't expect us all to believe that they're simply misunderstood bohemians bringing Brazilian football to the unenlightened masses, when in fact they're nothing more than a blight on the game. But sadly, until Rollerball comes to these shores it looks like we're stuck with them.

And the less said about the referee (how Small remained on the pitch for the entirety of the game is a mystery) the better. He's fortunate that there's only so much ire to go around today.

Thankfully results elsewhere meant that Mossley lost no real ground in the race for the title but if they want to be challenging for honours come April, this result may be just the reality check that's needed after what has been an otherwise impressive start to the season. The last two games will almost have certainly told the management more about the team than any of the seven wins we've had this season will have done.

And with a bit of luck it will be the last time (one way or another) we ever see Garforth at Seel Park again.

Hey, we can but dream.

Now I'm off to find a way of releasing that pent up frustration without running the risk of libelling someone. Apropos of nothing, does anyone know how much a good pair of boots and a cat costs*?

* Only joking animal lovers