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.