Bringing Things Back Home

In an attempt to redress the balance of all this week's Curzon related postings, it's time for a Mossley video - all three goals scored by the Lilywhites in the recent FA Cup match at the Tameside Stadium.

Yes, Curzon scored four but hopefully the clips will bring back memories of that spell when after pulling the game back to 3 - 3 from 3 - 1 down, it looked like we might go on and win it. Ahh, those short lived moments...

Being fair and unbiased I would have included Curzon's goals as well but as I only have one of them I really couldn't be bothered. Still, it is a Mossley blog so:

Curzon Ashton 1 - 1 Hinckley United

I never thought that I’d be re-evaluating Mossley’s game at Chorley quite as quickly as this but this match for the most part made Saturday’s game look like the last four minutes of the Croatia – Turkey game in Euro 2008.

Don't worry, I’m not going to write a huge amount about this game because there isn’t really a lot to mention. So briefly...

The game might have gone on for two hours (plus penalties) but in truth only around five minutes of it could be classed as being any good. Hinckley made the brighter start and if it wasn’t for a strike force that was about as lethal as cress, the game would have been done and dusted before Glynn Barker pounced on an errant back pass to put the home side one up.

Instead of ratcheting up the excitement levels though the goal had the opposite effect and it devolved into a series of tit-for-tat fouls (and trust me there was plenty of tat) until Hinckley equalised through a rather quite superb strike from their left back Franklin – one of only a few on the Leicestershire side to look like a Conference North player.

Extra-time came and went, occasionally even rising to the levels of moderately interesting, but a penalty shoot out always looked like being the thing that would separate the two sides and so it proved to be; Curzon winning 3 – 2 in the shoot-out and on the whole deserving of their place in the next round.

I have done a highlights video however and though the thought of watching Curzon may be anathema to you (especially them winning), it is worth viewing just to see Hinckley's goal. And if you don't fancy doing that there's always the video of that free-kick from the same match.

Or you could watch it on the ITV site instead where it's better quality but has some of the reaction to Hinckley's goal blanked out.

The Things You See At Other Matches

While I try to work up enough enthusiasm to start putting together a 'highlights' video out of the clips I took at last night's Curzon Ashton - Hinckley United FA Cup replay, here's something to whet your appetite in anticipation of it.

And by that I mean give you some indication as to how "not particularly good" it was.*

So, the world's worst free-kick?

* Granted, if you were a Curzon fan it was a fantastic match (and the opposite if you were from Hinckley) but as a neutral it was all a bit 'meh.' And a very cold 'meh' at that.

Chorley 1 - 1 Mossley

If you chose to do something else on Saturday rather than wend your way up a rain soaked M61 to Victory Park, I applaud your decision making.

Just as it's always easy to define how good a game has been by reeling off a long list of exciting, action filled incidents, it's equally as simple to tell how bad a game was if the final whistle can be classed as a highlight. And sadly the latter is true in respect to this match.

In fact, such was the spectators desire to hear it, there was almost an audible groan from the terraces when it was announced that there'd be a further three minutes added onto the ninety at the end of the game.

As you can probably gather from the opening two paragraphs this isn't a match that will live long in the memory of anyone who saw it. That said, while it ultimately turned out to be a game that many were willing to quickly end, it did get off to a promising start

Obviously eager to try and put a poor run of form behind them, Chorley began the game like the proverbial house on fire and it's hard to argue that the lead they took after only five minutes wasn't a deserved one; Jordan Connerton forcing ex-Lilywhite Steve Burke's cross/shot over the line under pressure from full-back Daryl Weston.

It was a tempo they were never likely to be able to maintain for the course of the game and so it proved; their pedal to the metal efforts winding down into a series of hopeful and tired long balls after just ten minutes.

It took some time for Mossley to emerge from their shells but when they did they were soon back on level terms. A move started by Danny Egan on the right wing ended with the same player firing a loose ball into the net after Lee Blackshaw's overhead kick had been blocked on the line.

I can't bring you video footage of the goal because of the Double Standards League officials, but I can show it you in a series of stills:
Mossley controlled what remained of the half but apart from a shot by Danny Self that flashed across the face of the goal just before the break, they never looked like edging themselves in front.

Despite being somewhat short on noteworthy moments, the opening period was a real rip-roaring, barnstormer of a half in comparison to what followed after the interval.

Over the course of the remaining forty five minutes neither goalkeeper was required to do anything more than pluck the occasional cross out of the air as the game became a dour midfield battle, punctuated all to often, and for the most part unnecessarily, by the shrill of the referee's whistle.

If anything summed up how poor things were, it was the one genuine goalscoring opportunity that arrived in its closing stages. On the edge of the six yard box and with goal at his mercy, Chorley's Josh Kenworthy sliced a shot so far wide that it took a moment for the assistant referee to work out whether it had gone off for a goal kick or a throw-in.

I hate to use excuses but there are a few possible reasons as to why the game was so unremittingly lacklustre for the majority of its running time. First of all the terrible weather was hardly conducive to playing good football. Secondly, visits to Chorley always seem to bring out the averageness in Mossley. Junction 8 of the M61 is like Kryptonite to the Lilywhites.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most important, Mossley were once again having to field an unfamiliar looking side due to an injury list that doesn't seem to be getting any shorter. In fact during the course of the match it grew by two more names – Egan and Blackshaw both having to hobble off in the second half.

Overall though in taking a point from a ground where such things have been a rarity in the past, Mossley will probably be the happier of the two teams. Especially as it keeps their unbeaten record away from home in the league intact as well.

However, come the end of the season, should the Lilywhites miss out on promotion or a play-off spot by two points, it's games like this one (where they didn't make lengthy periods of possession count) that they'll probably look back on and rue.

Finally, having seen the report for this game in the Non-League Paper, as bad as it was I think we may have dodged a bigger bullet. According to the match rating this was a three star game so I can't even begin to imagine how bad recent fixtures at Victory Park must have been for this one to have been deemed average.

At least the team now gets a week off to recuperate, reflect and re... well something else beginning with re, before we face Newcastle and Halifax within the space of three days – two games that are likely to have a big effect on our aspirations for the season.

As Seen In Ljubljana, Cluj-Napoca...

The second league meeting between Mossley and Wakefield at Seel Park last season was notable for a few things:
  1. It was the final match of a long, arduous and often fraught campaign.
  2. The 0 – 0 scoreline meant a rare clean sheet for a side that had conceded 100 goals in the league.
  3. The match was one of the dullest 90 minutes of football that many have many will have had the misfortune to witness.
It wasn’t therefore much of a surprise when the highlights video of the game I did turned out to be as popular as a three hour recording of a session of the Welsh Assembley that had been dubbed in to Kernewek.

In the five and a half months it had been online only 35 people had bothered to watch it, the last viewing coming in July. A total which even for the Mossley videos I’ve stuck on YouTube is pretty low.

At least that was the case until Wednesday of last week when all of a sudden it was watched by over 350 people in the space of 24 hours.

Thanks to YouTube’s statistic service which lets you know how viewers have stumbled across the videos you’ve uploaded, I was able to see exactly where the sudden number of people interested in the video had come from and that’s when things got even weirder.

I was expecting most, if not all, of the sudden influx to have come from an English football site – virtual ground hoppers – but no. All of the visitors had come via a Brazilian, a Polish, a Mexican, a Romanian and a Slovenian news/sport website, apart from a few who'd watched it through the Brazillian arm of Orkut, Google's own social networking service.

And the infuriating thing is I’ve no idea why.

I've searched all the sites as best I can and I can’t find anything that links to the clip. There's no trail of breadcrumbs for me to find out why a video containing no goals, bloopers or anything else of interest suddenly had five international websites pointing their readers to it on the same day.

There's a chance that they all decided to run a “the most boring football video on YouTube” piece at the same time but the odds on that must be infinitesimally small.

So if you ever find yourself browsing the above sites (you never know) and stumble across the answer as to why this happened, I'd be grateful if you could fill me in on the details because it's got me well and truly stumped.

Mossley 3 - 0 Chadderton

A night game played in chilling temperatures in front of a small crowd, most of whom wouldn't have been bothered if their side lost, can only mean one thing: it's the Manchester Premier Cup.

Last season Chadderton were the team that ensured Mossley's participation in the competition would go no further than the first round. Made up mainly on the night of reserves and fringe players, the Oldham based side sent a strong Lilywhites eleven crashing out of the competition with a 1 – 0 defeat.

Therefore when both sides were drawn to play one another again at the same stage of the contest this season, there were a few who feared that lightning could strike twice. Or maybe it was just me.

Fortunately, one year on from that cold and memorable for all the wrong reasons night at the Broadway ground, there was to be no repeat of that highly embarrassing exit.

Injuries and numerous non-availabilities meant that Mossley had a slightly unfamiliar look to their line-up going into this game. In fact the number of absentees meant a recall for some players who'd been given the “good luck at your new club” speech earlier in the season.

If it upset the rhythm and dynamics of the team in anyway it certainly wasn't noticeable as straight from the kick-off Mossley carried on from where they'd left off against Rossendale in their previous game – pushing their opponents back towards their own goal through some good attacking football.

Despite dominating possession and spending roughly 75% of the opening period camped in the half Chadderton were defending, Mossley just couldn't turn their advantage into goals. That's not to say that they weren't having plenty of attempts – they were, the problem was that they were keeping the ball boy busier than Lee Swanson in the Chaddy goal.

After the interval though the Lilywhites finally began to make Swanson work, not least when he had to make a superb finger tip save to push a dipping drive by Ryan Cook onto the crossbar. His heroics however proved to have been somewhat in vain as less than a minute later, and from the resultant corner, he was having to pick the ball out of his net; David Brookes finally giving Mossley the lead they deserved with a header from close range.

Midway through the half Chadderton enjoyed a brief spell where they went close on a couple of occasions to causing the home side a few problems, but any hopes they may have had of prolonging the match by taking it into extra-time were swept away with twelve minutes of the game remaining.

Their failure to deal with a dangerous cross from Sam Holt resulted in a loose ball rolling into the path of Nick Challinor, and the Mossley left back finished a move he'd started by dispatching it through a crowd of players to put his side two up.

It was Holt himself who made the final score line one more reflective of the game by heading home a deep cross from Kristian Bowden in the last minute of the match.

Well technically it was an own goal. Swanson actually saved Holt's header by pushing it onto the post, only for it bounce back off the upright and him before it crossed the line. To paraphrase Victoria Wood,his expression as it did so took on that of someone sat in a photo booth who'd just noticed a sausage being poked through the curtain as the flash went off.

There's no denying that this fixture was a potential banana skin for Mossley but thankfully, unlike last year, it's one that they skilfully managed to sidestep.

It wasn't a great game of football but it wasn't bad either. We'll more than likely see worse this season if indeed we haven't already (the Radcliffe game in August springs to mind for some reason).

The Lilywhites played some good stuff at times which I find reassuring as it shows that players on the fringes of the starting eleven can slot straight into the team without necessitating a change in the way we play. Something which at this level is a rare bonus.

Of course Chadderton being the opposition tempers any 'getting carried away' there may be with the performances of some players, but hopefully the efforts of David Brookes and Scott Holt, whose departure from the club was announced in the Oldham Chronicle on the afternoon of the match, will get them a second chance in a Lilywhite shirt.

And now all that's out of the way, and because the match is beyond the auspices of the Unibond 'double standards' League, it's highlights time!

And finally, to those of you who've asked how I'm doing and wished me well with my current back problem – thank you! It is very much appreciated.

Mossley 3 - 0 Rossendale United

Another short and 'no different from the official report' report this week as I'm still in no fit state to sit in front of the computer for hours on end doing two reports. The weather the match was played in hardly helped things and my back is currently stiffer than... you know, I'm not even up to thinking of something halfway amusing to finish that similie with.

There is a photo slideshow at the end of the post though and while it's no substitute for the video footage the stills are taken from, it will hopefully give you some idea of the goals, conditions, etc.

To have made your visit to Mossley80 a worthwhile one though, I suggest reading the post below this one if you haven't already. It has a few things that will pass the time better than this report did.

The Lilywhites returned to winning ways in their league campaign and fourth spot in the table with a relatively comfortable win over Rossendale United at a rain swept Seel Park.

The early stages of the game were a fraught and cagey affair as both teams attempted to adjust to the appalling conditions, but it was the home side that settled first and the lead they took in the 18th minute was one they never once looked like relinquishing.

That opening goal was the result of a fine team effort which involved Lee Blackshaw threading the ball through a cluster of opponents to find Michael Fish wide on the left. His first time cross found Danny Self arriving at the back post and the player who'd only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes as a replacement for the injured Leon Henry, diverted the ball through the legs of Hall to register his first goal in a Mossley shirt.

Fish, Dignan, Graham Kay and even Dale's Kevin Brown all went close to doubling Mossley's advantage before a second goal finally arrived five minutes before the interval. It was almost identical to the first too. This time though it was Fish himself who was the beneficiary of a perfectly weighted cross from the left wing; Mossley's leading scorer stooping to head home Danny Digan's delivery for his fifteenth goal of the season.

With Mossley appearing to be happy with their two goal lead and Rossendale looking more fired up than they had been for the first forty five minutes, the second half turned out to be a little less one sided.

The increase in possession the visitors enjoyed also translated into them spending more time than they had previously done around the Mossley penalty area. But thanks to some solid defending from a Lilywhites back line looking to post their first clean sheet in all competitions since the beginning of September, the side from Rawtenstall were confined to shooting wildly from distance.

It wasn't until the 80th minute that they finally called Andy Robertson into making a telling save, Stag's captain Phil Eastwood forcing the Mossley keeper to tip his powerful shot over the cross bar. The resultant corner also saw Robertson called into action, this time to acrobatically turn a 20 yard effort from James Heywood around the post.

In throwing men forward in search of a way back into the the game, Rossendale were leaving themselves open to a counter attack and it was an invitation the home side gratefully accepted in the 83rd minute.

Picking up possession after a visitor's set-piece had petered out, Anthony Robinson sent Danny Self charging down the right wing. After running over half the length of the pitch the former FC United winger played the ball into the path of fellow substitute Danny Egan who in turn tapped it past Hall for the goal that sealed the victory.

In Lieu Of A Preview

If you've come to Mossley80 looking for a preview of the weekend's game with Rossendale then I'm afraid you're going to leave disappointed. Not that there's ever been an alternative to leaving this site other than disappointed...

The combination of my current back problems and the fact that nobody ever reads the damn things anyway, has meant that I've decided to forego the ritual of writing the preview for both this match and the ones for the foreseeable future.

However, as I don't want to have made your journey to this blog a wasted one, here are a few things that may interest you:

  • First of all I heartily suggest visiting this local blog to read about just how independent the local press are when it comes to the Council, and the rest of it is worth reading too. If you're reading this posting though on a computer in a council office don't click on the link - it will probably mean less grief in the long run.

  • Slightly less seriously, next summer will see the release of a new Star Trek film at the cinema detailing Kirk and Spock's early years. The plot will undoubtedly involve the characters forming a bond brought about by a dramatic incident (and being Star Trek it will probably involve time travel), after spending the early part of running time hating one another. I'll bet though that it's not done in quite the following manner:
  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the Four Horsemen ever decided to saddle up and Sarah Palin became leader of the free world, outside of waking up in the middle of the night with cold sweats? Well wonder no more thanks to the Palin As President. It's an interactive site so just click around on it.
Now that was a lot better than a dry run down of Rossendale's last six matches wasn't it?

Mossley 2 - 1 Radcliffe Borough

I've been so under the weather this week that I completely forgot about the report for Mossley's midweek President's Cup match against Radcliffe Borough. And I'm not in a position now to do a report on it either because I wasn't there.

Sadly my situation at the moment meant that I had to miss my first home game (be it league, cup or friendly) for nearly four years and my second in well over ten. I was kept up to date with events throughout the game though and to be truthful (and to my selfish happiness) it doesn't sound like I missed much.

To put it briefly: First half dull until Radcliffe were awarded a penalty, which was missed, just before the break. Just after the break they took the lead but goals from Lee Blackshaw and Danny Egan meant that it was Mossley that progressed to the next round of this prestigious competition. And yes, prestigious should be read in as sarcastic a manner as possible.

If you want some meat to put on those bones than I suggest that you head here

Still a cup's a cup and any silverwear will always be gratefully accepted at the end of a season, no matter how small the initial desire to win it was.

Chip Wrappers: 17/10/08

Technically the title is wrong as this post is to do with broadcast rather than print media, but coming up with a new series of headings for a medium that rarely features on the blog isn't worth the thinking time at the moment.

As you may already know, last week Channel M broadcast a behind the scenes tour of Seel Park with our Chairman Steve Astley, along with highlights of our match against Bamber Bridge. In total these pieces about Mossley took up nearly a third of the running time of the latest edition of the channel's Greater Manchester Football Show.

Those of you with Sky may well have seen it during one of its many appearances in the station's schedules over the past seven days, but now those of you without access to satellite TV can see it too.

Unfortunately, unlike a lot of web based video, you can't jump ahead to the bit you want to see by clicking on the progress bar, so you may have a bit of sitting around to do before the Mossley section starts at the 28 minute mark. Thankfully though the stuff before it is worth watching as well.

However, for those of you with broadband provider that gives you a limited, and low, amount of bandwidth each month, be warned - This video will eat into it considerably as it's over 250mb in length.

And with that out of the way:

Good, eh?

Curzon Ashton 4 - 3 Mossley

If at some point in the following report you start wondering that it looks an awful lot like the official one, that's because it is.

I would have loved to have done my usual rambling essay but because I can't sit in front of the computer for five minutes at the moment without it feeling like someone is whacking me on the bottom of the back with a mallet, I'm having to type in short bursts.

It's also the reason as to why the final twenty minutes of the match are a bit vague in the report. The medication I'm on to try and get the pain level down to something below the level of excruciating, has the side effect of leaving you sleepy, and it's because of this that I spent the latter stages of the match paying more attention to trying to stay awake than watching it.

Over the course of the next week I'll endeavour to put a few other things from the game on the blog, including the video footage of our goals. In the meantime though, and before I fall asleep on my keyboard, here's that shorter than usual report:

Dreams of a trip to Wembley or even an afternoon out in Grimsby will have to wait for at least another season as Mossley's FA Cup run came to a halt at the Tameside Stadium, home of Curzon Ashton.

The game had almost got off to the perfect start for the Lilywhites. With less than a minute of it having been played, Danny Dignan forced his way through a crowd of players to connect with a Lee Blackshaw cross but his header flew inches past the wrong side of the post with keeper Carnell rooted to the spot.

Sadly it was to be an all too rare excursion into their opponents penalty area during the first half as instead of building on the momentum this early chance gave them, Mossley appeared to voluntarily take a more defensive approach to proceedings. In doing so it not only left our attacking players isolated but allowed Curzon to dominate possession and control the pace of the game.

As a consequence the pressure slowly began to build on the visitors goal and in the 27th minute Curzon put themselves in front when Alex Elliot lobbed a 25 yard free-kick over the defensive wall and into the net. Eight minutes later that lead doubled as Phil Edghill capitalised on some poor defending to cut in from the left wing and fire the ball past Liam Higginbotham.

Mossley were given a lifeline as the interval neared when Edghill headed Lee Blackshaw's free-kick beyond the reach his own goalkeeper but in injury time the Curzon winger completed his “hat-trick”, tapping the ball home unmarked after Higginbotham had pushed a long range shot from Elliot into his path.

Unsurprisingly the Lilywhites took to the field after the break in a more attack minded mood and they were rewarded for it almost immediately. Just two minutes of the second period had elapsed when Nick Challinor halved the deficit with a header from close range.

The goal set in motion a prolonged spell of Mossley pressure with the only respite for Curzon coming courtesy of some head scratching decisions from the officials. Fortunately there was nothing in the build-up to, or execution, of the equaliser that could give the referee even the smallest of reasons for ruling it out.

A low cross played to the near post by Lee Blackshaw was met at full-stretch by Danny Dignan and though his shot was initially stopped by Carnell, the Mossley number 10 reacted the quickest in order to force the loose ball across the line.

The home side at this point were looking positively rattled but the Lilywhites' decision to add more caution to their play gave Curzon the chance to regroup and, once again, they were getting far too many sightings of Higginbotham's goal.

Unlike the first half though the Curzon attack was being marshalled a lot better by the visitors defence. At least that appeared to be the case until Michael Norton, with seven minutes of the match left, was left unmarked in the six yard box to head Curzon into the next round.

There are a number of things for the Lilywhites to be angry about in this match, not least the officials who appeared to be nothing more at times than a proxy of the home dugout, but the real ire should be saved for their poor first half performance which is what ultimately cost them the game.

Looking On The Down Side...

Well here it is - the biggest game of the season.

I could qualify that by adding "so far" as if we win, the tie in the next round automatically becomes the biggest game and so on and so on. I could but I won't.

The reason why is because doing so would in some way suggest that I'm confident that we can get a positive result, and once that happens it automatically puts a hex on things. If you don't believe me you only have to look back at the previews for last seasons matches and see how many we lost after I'd predicted a win.

I'm a jinx and that's why I'm allowing my innate pessimism to come to the fore when I say that I'm not in the slightest bit confident of picking up a positive result in this game, even after taking into account our win at Kendal and the tremendous fightback that took place against Bamber Bridge in midweek.

The identity of the team we're facing certainly helps me to build the doom and gloom as well. Curzon Ashton are a side who've somehow become our bogey side over recent seasons. Not too long ago them beating us would be considered a shock but times have changed and now it's us beating them that would raise the odd eyebrow.

In fact it's been five years since we last beat them and that, in an enormous dollop of coincidence, was in the FA Cup. And if you're looking for good omens ahead of Saturday's game (not that I am for aforementioned reasons), it's in this competition that you'll find them. We've met Curzon in the FA Cup on three previous occasions (five in total if you include replays) and the Blues have failed to get the better of us in any of them.

And on that relatively upbeat note (compared to the rest of the post) I'll end the preview. Not before saying though that while, I'm being negative for purely superstitious reasons, I really do hope we are looking forward to the draw for the next round on Monday.

So good luck to those pulling on the white shirts at Ice Station Zebra tomorrow and let's get behind them and show our hosts why, despite their comparative success over recent years, they've still got reason to be jealous of us.

If on the off chance though you want to read a proper preview then I suggest you do so by clicking here.

Mossley 2 - 2 Bamber Bridge

Hands up how many of you thought the worst fifteen minutes into this game?

I've got mine raised (I'm going to have to put it down though because I can type faster with both hands) and I'll bet that most of you have to. If there's anybody that hasn't done so, they were either not at the game or have a very questionable approach to honesty.

There's absolutely nothing wrong in admitting how pessimistic you felt. I mean it would be hard to feel anything but after the team you support just conceded their sixth goal in twenty one minutes of football.

Fortunately four of those goals were in the last seven minutes of the Stocksbridge match which meant that Mossley were only two down at the quarter of an hour point of this top of the table clash with Bamber Bridge.

And what made matters worse, if that was at all possible, was that the visitors goals had come courtesy of their only two attacks up to that point.

Admittedly the first was more down to a comedy of errors from the home side rather than any great play from Bridge, not that the ridiculous nature of the build-up to the goal concerned Sean O'Neil as he fired his side into a 6th minute lead. Not for the first time this season, or this week come to think of it, Mossley gifted the ball to their opponents in a dangerous position before channelling the actions of some headless chickens while the ball made its way towards the back of the net

Prior to Bridge's opener, Mossley had looked the side more likely to get on the score sheet first with Michael Fish drawing a good save out of Andy Banks and Lee Blackshaw hitting the crossbar with an in-swinging corner. Even after going behind they were still the team who were posing the bigger threat with Danny Self proving to be a particularly prickly thorn in Bamber Bridge's left hand side.

Then in the 14th minute came that second goal. This time, rather than something self-inflicted, Mossley were undone by a swift and well executed counter attack but the end result was the same, O'Neil applying the finishing touch to send Alex Porter's low cross from the left past Liam Higginbotham and over the goal line.

In the few minutes that followed it looked as though the Lilywhites were going to implode for the second match running. Heads dropped, arguments broke out all over the pitch and all the while, their opponents piled forward in search of further goals.

However, in weathering Bridge's brief and thankfully goal free storm, Mossley rediscovered their fighting spirit and by simply closing down their opponents faster and doubling up on the man in possession, they turned the tables on the Preston side, suddenly looking the stronger and more capable of the two teams on display.

The deficit that was halved just after the half hour mark when a turn of pace from Blackshaw opened up Brig's wobbling back line and Danny Dignan, the only player able to keep pace with the winger, dived full length to head home a perfectly weighted from the former Glossop winger.

Danny Dignan's diving header pulls a goal back for the Lilywhites...

Having regained a foothold in the game, Mossley's pressure on the Bridge goal for the remainder of the period was near relentless. Their efforts deserved the reward of going into the break on level terms and in stoppage time at the end of the first half, Michael Fish ensured that they did.

A long throw from Daryl Weston pinballed it's way through a host of players crowded into the Bridge penalty area before it finally reached the feet of Mossley's leading scorer and from twelve yards out, Fish thundered the ball into the roof of the net; completing a comeback that made Lazarus's look like that of someone who'd just recovered from a split nail

...And Michael Fish (right of picture) turns away to celebrate netting Mossley's second.

The equaliser set-up what promised to be an exciting second half and what followed after the interval certainly didn't disappoint.

In weather that ranged from the merely bad to the downright terrible, both sides almost ran themselves to a standstill in their attempts to win the game. The greater number of opportunities to secure the victory fell the home sides way but try as they might, Mossley just couldn't find a finish to compliment some of the superb attacking (and condition mocking) football they were producing.

With both sides virtually running on empty in the dying embers of the match, they were each given one final opportunity to win the game. Brig's chance fell to substitute Tom Ince but Higginbotham reacted brilliantly to push his shot away for a corner while at the other end of the pitch, Fish could only knock Sam Holt's deep cross back along the face of the goal after Banks had flapped at it like a man trying to shoo a wasp.

In the end though, even if they couldn't manufacture the win their second half performance merited, Mossley deserved all the kudos they received from the crowd at the final whistle for not only managing to claw their way back into a game that looked hopelessly lost after quarter of an hour, but into a position where they can feel disappointed not to have taken all three points as well.

This was purely and simply a great game of football, a little thing that has been something a rarity over the last two or three years. It would have been nice if we'd got the victory we warranted but that doesn't detract from the enjoyment factor in any way.

The buzzword for this season is 'progress' and this was evidence of it.

If you don't believe me, when was the last time you saw a Mossley team go two goals behind and not roll over and die? When was the last time you saw them stand up and be counted when things have looked ominous? The last time you saw them leave the pitch at the end of the game looking like they'd spent ninety minutes working hard in mud?

See. Progress.

The turning point in the match was when Mossley, for the first time I've seen since the Halifax game, began to hassle and harry the Brig players when ever they had the ball. By refusing to let them settle Bridge virtually collapse under the pressure being exerted on them. It was only when the pitch had sapped the speed and energy from Mossley's legs that both sides back on a level playing field again.

And it's this approach that Mossley need to employ on Saturday against Curzon because they'll as sure as hell be doing it to us. Every game I've seen the Blues struggle in over the last few seasons has had one common trait: the opposition haven't backed off them and allowed them to play.

Of course it goes without saying that we'll have to defend a bit better too but this match showed that we're more than capable of not only giving our neighbours more of a game than we did on those three occasions last season, but winning it as well.

Its got to be said the night was made all the more enjoyable by a couple of Brig fans who situated themselves next to us in the Bus Shelter. They were fantastically funny but I don't think they realised we were laughing at them and not with them.

At least I assume they were Brig fans but some of their comments about Mossley gave the impression that they supported a team that played in the luxurious surroundings of a modern stadium and not the cabbage patch with a big stand that passes for the Irongate Ground.

Still, it was all smiles and handshakes at the end of the game and it's nice to have a bit of banter at a match without the undercurrent of nastiness. A sentence I'd never have come close to including in the the report for the last home league game.

And after Saturday it was nice that there was so much going on out on the pitch that we didn't have to resort to discussing bodily functions and why sailors used to nail skate to ships masts!

If that last bit makes no sense to you at all, you really should read this blog a bit more often.

From Stocks to Bamber

Up till about 2:30pm on Saturday I, along with a good many others, had assumed that our opponents in this game were to be Skelmersdale United.

However the team from the ‘new town’ are unavailable due to the fixture clashing with a Liverpool County Cup tie, and because local FA competitions bizarrely take precedence over everything other than national FA competitions, we’ve been bumped.

A blank midweek schedule, and therefore the remote possibility of catching a second or two of the horror that is Holby City, has been avoided though by someone managing to arrange an even tougher game for us - current league leaders Bamber Bridge at home.

Both teams will be looking to bounce back from the heavy defeats they received in the Trophy at the week end; Bamber Bridge’s 5 – 3 reversal at Sheffield being slightly less humiliating than our 5 - 1 capitulation at home to Stocksbridge. History isn’t on Mossley’s side though as Bridge have never lost a match at Seel Park, winning all but one of their previous visits.

Even so, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Skem, Brig or someone else who turns up, or even what the omens are, ahead of Saturday’s match this game is about as welcome as Richard Dawkins at a convention for Rapture-Ready Christians; chocolate sauce in our FA Cup/Trophy bacon sandwich.

I know there’s a school of thought that says this game will give us the chance to get what happened at the weekend out of our system before we meet Curzon, but equally there’s the possibility that the problems will just get worse and be compounded by injuries, etc.. And personally speaking, if a team is to going to be on the end of a backlash from us after the last result, I’d rather it was our neighbours than the men from Preston.

But then, what do I know? I'm just a blogger desperately filling space in the fastest way possible because what should have originally been here is no longer relevant thanks to the Liverpool FA.

Mossley 1 - 5 Stocksbridge P.S.

You can tell how a game is going for Mossley by the conversation amongst supporters on the Bus Shelter side of the ground. Or more precisely by how many bizarre tangents it starts to head off in when things aren't going well.

So when I say that the topics touched upon in this match encompassed such diverse things as Charles Hawtrey playing football, fish licking, Izel toilet paper and the most humiliating way of being discovered collapsed on the bathroom floor (and you really don't want to know what won that), it will give you some idea to just how bad things were for the Lilywhites in this match.

If someone ever decided to compile an encyclopaedia of football terminology, they could do worse than to use this game to provide the textbook definition of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' as following their superb and fully merited win at Kendal a week earlier, Mossley crashed out of the FA Trophy in a horribly embarrassing fashion at home to Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Not only that but it could be used to fill a couple of paragraphs in the description for that other overused cliché 'a game of two halves' as well; all five Stocksbridge goals coming after the half-time interval which Mossley had entered both in the lead and having been largely untroubled.

The 27th minute header from Lee Blackshaw that put the hosts ahead at the break was one of the few moments of note in a half that was almost as bleak as the weather it was being played beneath. What little in the way of good stuff there was though was coming from the home side.

Lilywhites captain Graham Kay had gone close to putting his team one-up in as early as the 5th minute when he headed a corner against the crossbar but despite enjoying the greater share of possession, Mossley's failure to construct anything other than the very occasional half-chance with it was to prove costly; both to the tune of a place in the next round and the £2000 in prize money that was on offer.

The visitors emerged from the dressing rooms for the second half looking far more fired up than than they had done in the opening period while Mossley in stark contrast, appeared to be on the field in body but not in mind. It was a situation Steels took swift advantage of and within four minutes of the restart they were level, Andy Ring poking the ball home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.

Stocksbridge's equaliser failed to shake Mossley from their sudden and unexpected stupor and neither did a triple substitution a few minutes later which, if anything, had the opposite effect to what the Lilywhites management team were hoping for as things slowly got worse for the home side.

Chances began to come and go with alarming regularity for the Yorkshire side as the goal the Lilywhites were defending started to lead something of a charmed life. Not least when, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, Ring skipped unchallenged through a host of white shirts only to launch the ball over both Liam Higginbotham and the crossbar when hitting the net looked the easiest of the options available to him.

It was this and more moments like it that gave the majority of people inside Seel Park the hope that Mossley may just hang on to get a second bite of the cherry with a midweek replay, but with the game nearing its conclusion that hope evaporated, along with the Lilywhites defence, in a glut of goals.

There was just seven minutes left when Carl Fothergill broke clear of the Mossley rearguard to finally put Stocksbridge ahead, and the scoreline was then given its emphatic look by Jamie Vardy; the Steels striker netting what will probably be the easiest hat-trick he'll ever score in the space of just four minutes.

In some ways Mossley can count themselves lucky that Stocksbridge's total only reached five, such was the legion of chances the visitors both created and were presented with in those last seven minutes.

If you've read the 'official' report before this, you'll have undoubtedly realised at this point that this one doesn't contain a lot of extra stuff. Part of the reason is down to pure laziness but the majority of it is down to being in something of a quandary.

I don't want to be too harsh in my assessment of the game because it's the first really, really bad result we've had this season. On the other hand though the second half was one of the worst forty five minutes I've seen from a Mossley side at Seel Park since, ohhh... ... last season.

We were good value for our lead at half-time, although a solitary goal was scant reward for the amount of possession we enjoyed, but goodness knows what happened during the fifteen minute break to change the game in the way it did.

Once the match got back under way there was a lackadaisical approach to our play, it was almost as if our interest had disappeared from the game. And when Stocksbridge discovered our Achilles Heel, much as Garforth had done a fortnight earlier, we were effectively beaten.

In case you're wondering what that weak point is, think back to the first, third and fourth goals conceded in the Garforth game and the last four in this one – all scored in a near identical manner.

Given Mossley's impressive opening to the campaign, it may just be that this was a freak result, the kind most teams suffer at least once once a season. But after their 'giant killing' efforts in the FA Cup seven days earlier, it does act as a timely feet grounding exercise ahead of an important league game in midweek and the derby against Curzon Ashton.

And hopefully it will mean the Bus Shelter Standers spend the next 180 minutes at Mossley games talking about the football rather than if high winds send people mad.

Some of the 'highlights' from this game may appear on the blog over the course of the next week. Then again they may not...

Different Shaped Balls

It's not very often that I read the rugby league story on the back page of the Oldham Chronicle (i.e. next to never) but as I was glancing over tonight's article, a piece about the Oldham Roughyed's signing someone new to the sport, a name in the opening paragraph of the article caught my eye.

The reason why was because that name was one shared by a former Mossley player. At least that was what I initially thought. Reading the details made it apparent that it was the former Lilywhite.

And the ex-Lilywhite in question? Anthony Bingham

Anthony Bingham scores the goal that was to ultimately win us the NPL First Division

He didn't stay at Seel Park long (he left during the 'week of the long knives' in the early part of the 06/07 season) but in his 26 game spell he proved to be a very popular player and as the caption to the above picture states, Bingo was the one who scored what turned out to be the title winning goal in the 2 - 1 win over Bishop Auckland in 2006.

If you want to know more details about how he turned on his back on football for the lesser of the two rugby evils, then follow this link to the story on the Roughyeds website.

He's one player I wouldn't have minded seeing back in a Mossley shirt but good luck to him though on his new career path and I hope he makes a success of it.

I wonder how long it will be, given the legion of Australians plying their trade in the sport over here, before Fraser Robinson gets a trial with them too?

No, that's unfair... I'd quite like the Roughyeds to do well.

SPS To SP For FAT Game With MAFC

Another week, another cup competition and this Saturday sees Mossley start their assault on the other FA prize available to them this season - the Trophy.

Amid all the excitement generated by the win over Kendal last week in the Challenge Cup, it would be easy to dismiss this game with a shrug of the shoulders but not only is it an important competition in terms of prestige, it's also the second biggest money spinner for clubs at our level too.

Last season we left the Trophy at the first available opportunity by losing to Rushall Olympic. The season before that it was Cammel Laird who dumped us out on our backsides in the 2nd Qualifying Round. In fact the last time we actually reached the First Round proper of the competition via the qualifiers was way back in 1986, beating both Hyde and Stalybridge before we bowed out to Kidderminster Harriers.

And as if to prove that it is a small world, Mossley's opponents are the team Curzon beat to set up next week's Battle Royale at the Tameside Stadium - Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Our last meeting with Stocksbridge was a little over twelve months ago in the Unibond League Cup and though it started well it didn't end that way with the Lilywhites trying and failing to hang on to an early lead, eventually going down to a somewhat deserved 2 - 1 defeat.

That fixture was the first time we'd faced Steels in a knock-out competition and it was also the first time they'd ever beaten us; Mossley having won all of the previous games between the two.

A state of affairs that leaves the choice of two possible omens for you to take into the game: the bad one which says we've never beaten Stocksbridge in a cup competition or the good one which is that we've won every game against them at Seel Park.

Only one of them will still survive at the end of the match so lets hope that the good omen lives to be disproved another day.