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...