Ein Miserablen Woche

Finally! Another week comes that did my blood pressure no good at comes to a welcome end.

It got off to a fantastic start at Lambeth Grove last week with Mossley's ruthlessly efficient dismantling of Woodley Sports but then along came Monday and... ... no. On the off chance that somebody at work actually knows I do this blog, I'm not going to finish that sentence as I like having money before Christmas.

Apropos of nothing though I will say that over the past number of days I've had an inkling into how the citizens of Rome must have felt when the rumours of Nero sound tracking the fires on his lyre started.

It's at times like this I wish I worked for the Maplewood Police Department in Minnesota because it looks like it's a barrel of laughs there. I mean, how long do you think they waited for the reporter in the following clip to go live before they started removing certain pieces of evidence from the house they'd just raided?

I wonder if that was the battering ram the reporter mentioned in the piece?

Any hopes of the new week getting off to just as good a start as the last one don't appear to be too promising at the moment, with the weather threatening the prospects of Mossley putting in a repeat performance against Woodley in the rematch at Seel Park.

The word at last night's quiz was that the pitch was still suffering the effects of the weather experienced earlier in the week and I doubt the temperature plunging into minus figures overnight helped any. Especially with similar frosty forecast for tonight.

There's plenty of time for things to warm up though and I for one hope it's on, not just for the football, but to see Channel M film the match.

As you'll know from their recent visits, the camera has either taken up a spot in front of the main stand or, on occasions, in the bus shelter. This time however after investigating into its feasibility, they're apparently going to be taking a more 'elevated' view of the match.

I don't want to say anything in case it doesn't happen but we can only be thankful that, with the position they're reportedly going to be in, Woodley are the visitors and not Garforth or they'd spend most of the game looking like coconuts flying off a shy.

And given what's likely to be the very, very close proximity of the section of the crowd prone to using flowery language, it's possible that this could be the first non-league highlights package shown on Channel M that's either soundless or only shown after midnight; something it almost certainly will be if last weeks loud discussions into what was on offer to eat in the Woodley boardroom takes place again.

I suppose the week wasn't all bad though. City won in Germany, 'Those At The Back' finished second in the quiz and I know that no matter how bad things get I will never be as sad as those people stood outside Ashton Market Hall at six-thirty this morning waiting for it to re-open.

Woodley Sports 1 - 4 Mossley

Now with small, slightly blurred photos in the form of slideshow.

After hitting what was arguably the lowest point of the season with a defeat at home to bottom of the table Salford, the prospects of Mossley picking up anything against a team second in the league and then a bogey side over the course of the next seven days weren't particularly high.

However, and as if to prove the cliché about a week being a long time in football true, the Lilywhites followed up an impressive performance in their midweek victory over high flying Bamber Bridge with a display of equal calibre to claim a comprehensive win at Lambeth Grove, the home of Stockport side Woodley Sports.

It was a win that was effectively decided within the space of five first half minutes as well. A period during which Mossley found the back of of goalkeeper Ben Connett's net on no less than three occasions.

There was little Connett could do though but stand and watch as Danny Self got the blitz under way in spectacular fashion in the 17th minute. Twenty yards out and stood almost with his back to goal, Self acrobatically span and looped a loose ball past the stranded keeper and into the top corner of the net.

Self was also instrumental in Mossley's second goal. Picking up Danny Egan's intelligent through ball, the former Maine Roadplayer burst into the box only to be felled by one, or possibly both, of the Woodley players who'd converged on him. The referee showed no hesitation signalling a penalty and after a short delay while remonstrations were waved away, Egan calmly sent Connett the wrong way from the spot to register his ninth goal of the campaign.

Less than sixty seconds later the third goal arrived and contained elements from opposite ends of the football quality spectrum. The ridiculous, a woefully misjudged thirty five back pass by Adam Morning, gave way to the sublime as Danny Dignan brought the intercepted ball under control with his first touch and with his second, lifted it superbly over the onrushing Connett.

It was forehead slapping stuff from the officials too. Well, at least one of them. Even though it was a Woodley player (at the time of writing) who kicked the ball to Dignan while he made his way back up the pitch from a previous attack, the linesman stuck his flag up for offside. Thankfully the referee knew the correct laws of the game and, after allowing play to continue, explained them to his assistant as both teams lined up for the restart.

The home side managed to make it to the interval without suffering further embarrassment but they should have also gone in at the break with one goal to their credit. That they didn't though was down to Gavin Salmon replicating the form he showed in his brief stint at Seel Park by somehow conspiring to head wide of an open goal in injury time.

Not unexpectedly, Woodley's approach to the second half was to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Lilywhites in attempt to rescue the game. They barely scratched the visitors back line though, let alone make a significant dent, as Mossley's resolute defending confined them exclusively to trying their luck with speculative shots from a distance that was never going to cause keeper, and captain for the day, Andy Robertson any problems.

If anything it was still Mossley who always looked the more likely to be the next team to score and that they didn't was down to a combination of some very near misses and a few eyebrow raising offside decisions. In fact the assistant referees flag was proving to be Woodley's best defender as their back four, along with the linesman, continually struggled to deal with the pace and movement of Dignan and Egan.

They got no respite either when the two Danny's were eventually replaced by Matty Berkley and Michael Fish late on in the game, and both combined set up the fourth goal for Mossley's first substitution of the afternoon, Lee Blackshaw; the winger stroking the into an unguarded net from the edge of the six yard box.

Hopes of a second consecutive clean sheet for the Lilywhites looked to have been guaranteed when Robertson pulled off a fantastic save to deny Jarrett, but they where quashed when Daniel Queeley scored from the penalty spot with what turned out to be the penultimate kick of the game.

Any lustre it took off Mossley's performance though would only be noticeable if you were to look at it a sub-atomic level because after a display like this one, it takes more than a late consolation goal to dampen the optimism the preceding ninety plus minutes.

To put it simply Mossley were Apoidea’s ginglymus joint.

They just picked up from where they left off at the QED Stadium four days earlier and ran Woodley ragged.

Once again the two Danny’s were an ever present threat upfront and the first line of defence, Weston and Kelly were dominant in midfield, Self and Hirst ran their socks off and the back four (plus one even further back) looked unflustered. Even the one change forced upon us through Graham Kay’s suspension failed to knock the defence from their stride as Kristian Bowden slotted into the centre half position and looked like he'd been playing their all season.

All backed up by one of the subs line-up we’ve had in years, meaning that we now have a team/squad where you have to fight for a place and the players are responding to it in the best way possible.

The only upcoming problem I can foresee is that Woodley are our next opponents as well in the return fixture at Seel Park.

Whilst it's nice that the manner of their complete and utter defeat will still be fresh in their memories, it would have been even better if a longer period of time had been allowed to pass so that the petty grudges built up through flailing arms and late tackles had time to fade away, instead of being put off for a week.

Not just for the possible state of our players health at 16:45 on Saturday but their goalkeepers too. At least his mental state that is because after his 'spat' with Mossley supporters towards the end of this game, it could turn out to be an aurally unpleasant afternoon for him.

That’s for another day though and for the time being it’s best to just concentrate on this one. One which sees us sitting outside the play-offs on goal difference and just six points behind the leaders, only a week after we were in mid-table and heading in a downwards direction because of our fourth defeat on the bounce.

Football. Unfathomable isn’t it?

Bamber Bridge 0 - 2 Mossley

Unfortunately time constraints mean that this is going to be a relatively short report compared to what usually appears on here. It's a damn nuisance too because this game, or rather Mossley's performance in it, is one I could spend hours enthusing about.

Without a point from the four games played in the first half of the month, November was rapidly in danger of becoming the period on the calendar which marked Mossley's transformation from a top of the table side into one of the also rans in the lower reaches of the league.

At least that was the case until two unanswered goals at Bamber Bridge's QED Stadium ensured that the Lilywhites not only returned to winning ways but put the brakes on their slide down the Unibond First Division as well.

And while a 2 – 0 scoreline registered against a side sitting second in the league is impressive in itself, it's one that doesn't come close to accurately reflecting the gap that existed between the two teams on the pitch. I say gap, it was more like a gulf at times.

The first goal came towards the end of an opening period that, a tentative start aside, Mossley dominated. The abundance of pace in their forward line and the variety of attacking options available on the pitch were causing the home side no end of problems, but it was from a simple set-piece that the Lilywhites finally got the reward their first half efforts deserved; Graham Kay rising between two defenders at the far post to power Alex Mortimer's delivery from a free-kick low past Andy Banks in the Bridge goal.

The second half saw no let up in pressure from Mossley as they began to turn the screw even more on an increasingly hapless looking home defence. Chances came and went with a dizzying speed, so many in fact that even though Mossley80 is no stranger to the lengthy match report, there's no way on earth I'm listing the number of opportunities the visitors created, spurned or were denied profiting from by some very good goalkeeping.

With a tad more luck it's entirely possible that Mossley could have got their goal difference back to how it was three weeks and thirteen goals ago.

No matter how well you're playing though, holding a one goal lead is always a precarious position to be in – you're only a momentary loss of concentration away from having your advantage wiped out. Therefore any fears there were of Bridge somehow managing to claw their way back into a game they were only bit part players in eased significantly in the 78th minute.

Michael Fish had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes when, twenty yards from goal, he curled the ball through a crowded penalty and past the despairing dive of Banks to finally give the Lilywhites the breathing space their endeavours deserved. It wasn't as good as his strike from practically the same spot in last season's corresponding fixture but it wasn't far off either.

In fact if Fish had scored it for FCUB, Halifax, Boston, Wakefield or any of the countless other clubs who have goals and match footage uploaded regularly to supposedly 'against league rules' video sharing websites, there'd be a whole host of people around the world saying how good it was. As the likes of Mossley aren't allowed to do that though you're going to have to take my word, and the word of everyone else who was there, that it was a pip and a dandy.

We may have beaten bigger teams with bigger score lines since August but this was probably the best ninety minutes of football we've played for a good while.

While it's hard not to get to carried away after seeing the side you support run rings around a team from the upper echelons of the league, you have to keep reminding yourself not to go overboard. However a bit of optimism doesn't go amiss every now and again and if (and it's a humongous if I grant you) Mossley can repeat what they did in Preston on even a semi-regular basis then we'll be in for a very good final two thirds of the season.

Undoubtedly some people will view Andy Robertson's return to the number one position in this game and the subsequent clean sheet as linked but the real reason for Mossley's improved defensive performance lies further up the pitch.

The difference having two combative midfielders in the centre of the park made was extraordinary and it was the pairing of Kelly and Weston rather than a change in goalkeepers which saw Mossley look more solid than they have done recently. Not only did they protect the back four they provided a platform to build attack after attack from too.

It would be wrong to single out these two players as the sole reason for our return to points collecting though as no one in an orange (or green) shirt put in anything less than a very good performance. From the front where the two Danny's chased and harassed the Brig defence all night to our solid showing across the back we were, frankly, brilliant.

It's entirely possible that Jericho's wall may come crashing down to the sound of Woodley's horn on Saturday but at least we'll head to Plastic Land knowing what we can do when we click and the confidence that brings.

And finally, a big thank you to the players for not only the result but coming across to clap the supporters at the end. It's a small thing but it's never not appreciated.

Mossley 2 - 3 Salford City

Apart from a few sides at the uttermost ends of the football spectrum, that is the extremely bad and the extremely good, a season for most sides is akin to a sine wave – a series of highs and lows with a constantly shifting frequency.

With this in mind, at this precise moment it's fair to say that after riding an early season peak, Mossley are currently barrelling down the slope of a deep trough. The depressing thing is that there's no visible point where you can see the slope flattening out either.

Given the nature of their upcoming fixtures between now and the New Year, this game, against a side rock bottom of the league and without a win in it, technically represented Mossley's best chance of halting their losing streak.

However, for the second week running Mossley's inability to kill teams off when they were comfortably on top in a game was to prove costly once more as profligacy in attack, along with a considerable amount of charity in defence, allowed Salford to record their first victory in the league this season.

And the frightening nature of their near surrender after the interval leaves you seriously wondering where those next points are going to come from.

There was no foreshadowing of what was to happen after the break when the match got under way as straight from the kick-off the Lilywhites looked determined to put their recent run of bad results behind them. In doing so they exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on their opponents goal, fashioning a succession of chances from some fantastic build-up play down both wings.

Initially the chances were going begging as players narrowly missed out on applying the finishing touches but when they finally did start connecting with the stream of through balls and crosses being played into the box, the Salford goal began to live a charmed life.

At least it did until the 19th minute when Christian Hirst fed Lee Blackshaw's low cross into the path of Danny Egan and the former Macclesfield player slipped the ball under Martin Campbell to give the Lilywhites a thoroughly merited lead.

Danny Egan receives the congratulations of his team mates after netting the opener.

That changed though eight minutes later when Danny Toronczak found himself alone with the ball at his feet on the edge of the Mossley penalty area, the home team's defence seemingly having gone AWOL. It was an open invitation to score that the ex-Lilywhite forward had no qualms in accepting and he calmly slotted the ball past Ashley Connor to give the visitors a surprise equaliser.

The goal saw Mossley redouble their efforts as an attacking force and within seconds of the restart the City back line were literally throwing themselves in front of the ball as the Lilywhites began to pepper their goal with shots. On the occasions their efforts proved ineffective, goalkeeper Campbell was turning out to be a more formidable barrier.

He was confined to the role of a worried spectator though when on two occasions during a sequence of six consecutive corners, his defence went spectacularly close to putting Mossley back in front. The first saw Marsh hammer the ball into the side netting and fropm the resulting corner his partner in the centre of City's defence, Pollock, scooped an attempted clearance over his own head and onto the crossbar.

As half-time approached though the home side failed to heed the lesson about leaving their opponents unmarked from the first goal and the consequence proved damaging. It was Toronczak once more who was afforded acres of space to bring a long ball under control, only this time he was upended by the onrushing Connor before he could get his shot away. The awarding of a penalty came as no surprise and neither did Toronczak's conversion of it.

Ashley Connor floors Toronczak for the penalty.

When the teams went off at the interval there was no reason to think why Mossley couldn't get back into the game but the expected onslaught of Campbell's goal after the break never materialised. Instead, for every bit as a good as they were in the first half, the Lilywhites were the complete opposite in the second and they looked a beaten side straight from the restart.

And that's exactly what they became in the 58th minute when Salford's impressive start to the second period, one which had seen them go close to extending their lead on more than a couple of occasions, was rewarded with a third goal. Once again, the ease in which it came was disturbing as Nathan McDonald was allowed to run through a host of motionless white shirts to glance home a free-kick floated into the box by Lathan Forrester.

A series of changes to both the Mossley personnel and formation only had the effect of looking like chaos theory was being employed as a way of salvaging the game – the “if we're unsure of what we're doing, our opponents will have even less idea” gambit. I know it wasn't intentional but as players drifted from one position to another (at one memorable point three of them occupied the same small space on the pitch) shape and a plan of attack became an alien concept.

By the time the things had settled down and the changes had begun to take effect, the match was virtually over. A late rally by the Lilywhites saw Danny Egan notch his second goal of the game and halve the arrears but it was too little too late. If anything, instead of giving Mossley a boost for the closing moments of the match it seemed to inspire Salford more and if Barry Massey hadn't wasted two gilt edged chances, and I mean a couple of point and laugh misses, their winning margin would have been much greater than one.

As I mentioned a few hundred words ago it's hard to see where the next point is going to come from, especially if we can't stop fingering the self-destruct button that somehow manages to attach itself to all Mossley sides – enabling us to lose games that looked an impossibility to do so.

It can be argued that luck, or rather the absence of it, is also playing a role in our current tribulations but the recent run of defeats can't solely be put down to a lack of good fortune. Poor marking? Yes. Not taking our domination of games to its logical conclusion? Yes. Spurning chances? Yes. An inability to deal with a forward line containing a modicum of pace? Yes. Because someone walked under a ladder or smashed a mirror? Highly unlikely.

Whatever, the situation we currently find ourselves in now is that out of the last twenty four points available we've managed to take just five. Of course, in some of those games we've faced sides such as Newcastle and Halifax who are expected to be challenging for honours come April, but conversely, in Salford and Garforth we've come a cropper to struggling teams because of the same failings: converting chances and preventing our opponents from doing likewise.

Hopefully the form we exhibited in the early stages of the season will make a welcome return over the course of the next month. If it does then as well as going a long way to securing our place in this league, we can maybe upset the apple cart for a few teams with promotion on their minds and possibly reignite our hopes of moving upwards too.

If it doesn't then I think we may be in for our third consecutive long winter. Albeit one with better football to watch during our 'good' patches.

Events at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday may give us a pointer as to which of the two paths it is we end up heading down...

"Stop Getting Bond Wrong!"

Hmm. What to write about to keep the blog ticking over till the next report is posted.

I could do a preview of the upcoming game with Salford and, with their new manager team, and ponder the likelihood of them picking up their first league win of the season at Seel Park; the kind of thing Mossley have been very charitable about in the past.

There's the option of doing a piece on how the Manchester Evening News managed to spell Mossley wrong during the week, or a much longer essay on why the Reporter decided reports on Glossop Under Nine matches are more important than those played by the Lilywhites (and yes, they did get one for the Trafford game).

Instead though I'm simply going to use this opportunity to say that if you're going to see the new James Bond film - don't!

Now I'm a big James Bond fan and I firmly believe there's no such thing as a bad OO7 movie. Okay, maybe Die Another Day had a few scenes that could curl the toes on a cadaver, but as someone who counts the much derided Moonraker as one of their favourites, Quantum of Solace is pretty average - the film just 'happens' leaving you feeling none the richer for having seen it when you leave the cinema.

Admittedly it's probably the most action packed film there has been in the series but surprisingly that turns out not to be a good thing. The king of action films is John Woo's 'Hard Boiled' which continually tops itself for sheer audacity throughout its two hours, but it does give you breathing time between the set pieces.

Quantum of Solace on the other hand is pretty much relentless and in being so, the adrenalin runs out very quickly and doesn't return. This isn't particularly helped by some editing in the opening half-hour that's nearly insane. Shots are cut so quickly that I swear some of them finish before they've begun.

It's not all bad though - the theme song is terrible.

There are some redeeming features - like I said, there's no such thing as a bad Bond film. A sequence at the opera is very well done, even if the montage in the middle of it is redolent of many other movies, and a few of the small amount of character moments are good especially one of the early Bolivia ones.

In the end though it's a film that could have been really good but isn't.

And this why I advise you that if you're going to the pictures this weekend (and you're over 18 and not easily offended), see Zack and Miri instead. It's funny, heart warming and should the question ever pop up in a game of Trivial Pursuit, you'll find out what a Dutch Rudder is.

To finish with Bond though, and to tie things in with the heading to this post, here's Alan Partridge's re-creation of the opening to the best 007 film ever (we have none of that Goldfinger nonsense here at Mossley80):

And finally, what the new film should have been?

Trafford 3 - 1 Mossley

If a week is a long time in politics, the same length of time can seem like an eternity in football if you’re on a losing streak.

November may be only eight days old but if it continues in the way it has started for Mossley, it's a month they'll be hoping to see the end of sooner rather than later as they fell to their third successive defeat in little over a week - the latest coming at Shawe View, home of Trafford FC.

The Lilywhites were the games early pacesetters and took a deserved lead from the spot after only eight minutes. Matty Berkeley's clever spin and drag back bamboozled Lee Southwood into unceremoniously upending the St Kitts & Nevis international in the corner of the box, leaving the referee with no option other than to award a penalty kick which Michael Fish duly converted.

The visitors continued to pile forward in search of more goals but not for the first time this season, the copious amounts possession they enjoyed in and around their opponents penalty area wasn't turned into anything more than the occasional half-chance.

This inability to press home their advantage was again to prove costly. Trafford slowly began to build up a head of steam and their sightings of Ashley Connor's goal grew with increasing regularity before the game was to swing in their favour with an incident seven minutes before the interval.

In his attempts to stop Andy Lundy from having a clean run on goal as he broke through the visitors back line, Graham Kay's legs became entangled with those of Trafford forward and after Lundy had crashed to the floor, the referee produced the red card from his pocket and dismissed the Mossley captain for a professional foul.

Lee Blackshaw was the attacking player sacrificed so that a defender could be brought on to fill the gap in the back four, but it was through the position vacated by the Mossley winger that Trafford brought themselves back into the game.

Two minutes into time added on at the end of the first half, Kayde Coppin took full advantage of the space now available down the Lilywhites left hand side and charged to the touchline before cutting the ball back to the near post where Scott Barlow was on hand to tap the ball home.

Despite a positive opening to the second period in which Rhys Kelly and Berkeley went close to edging them ahead, the game started to slip away from Mossley when the half was ten minutes old. Barlow, the league's leading scorer, was given the time and space to carry the ball along the edge of the Mossley penalty area before picking his spot and firing a shot across Connor and into the net.

With the onus now on Mossley to throw men forward in an attempt to secure an equaliser, their numerical disadvantage left them even more susceptible to a breakaway goal and after a couple of very close calls that's precisely what happened in the the 66th minute. Once again it was Barlow who applied the finishing touch to a pacey Trafford move and, in doing so, completed both his hat-trick and virtually ensured that the Lilywhites would be heading home pointless.

To Mossley's credit they didn't resign themselves to the defeat and with fifteen minutes of the game left Christian Hirst went incredibly close to halving the deficit, but with Trafford looking dangerous on the break every time a move for the visitors broke down, what would have been a memorable comeback never really looked in any danger of happening.

So, just as we can rightly rail against the injustice of our defeat at Halifax on Tuesday, we can have no complaints at being the runners up in this fixture. We started the game well and, indeed, we finished it well too – it’s the bit in-between that was the problem.

There are a few issues to be had with some of the officiating but none of them relate to Graham Kay’s sending off. In the ten minutes or so prior to his dismissal we’d come dangerously close to being undone on a few occasions by one of the forwards bursting through the middle, and in some ways the red card seemed an almost inevitable consequence of our failure to cope with it.

Though there were a few people who said as much at the time, the gift of hindsight tells us that sacrificing Lee Blackshaw in order to put a defender on the pitch to fill the gap at the back was probably the wrong option. Not only was the ‘Glossop Express’ one of our better players on the afternoon it also seemed to leave us unbalanced in midfield and as we’ve seen this season, it’s an area of the pitch where most games, in the main, have been won and lost.

It’s easy to be wise after the event though and you’ve got to admire the bold decision in not taking one of the forwards off to compensate for the lack of numbers at the back, but ultimately the decision didn’t help us. To be fair though there’s no guarantee that the result would have been any different had an alternative substitution been made.

Trafford were getting on top before they scored and the second goal certainly had nothing to do with a lack of bodies on the pitch – just a lack of tackling.

With players slowly starting to move off the injury list and back into contention for a spot on the team sheet, it’s safe to say (although it’s also tempting fate) that there should be some improved displays over the coming weeks, and not a moment too soon either if you’ve seen the fixture list between now and the New Year.

I can vaguely recall an adage that says you can learn more about a side in adversity than in triumph and after no points, one goal for and ten against in three games the Mossley management will certainly have been subjected to quite the info dump.

If there’s one really good thing to come from the three defeats it’s that it will have dampened down expectations for this season to a more realistic level. Yes, it would be nice to be at the top of the table throwing our weight around with the other promotion contenders but without the funds to sustain an instant tilt at the title, its better that we learn to walk before we run.

Re-reading the last sentence I have feeling that it may not make a lot of sense but having seen the visitor statistics for this site over the last week, I’ll be the only person reading it so I don’t think that it really matters all that much.

Roll on Saturday then and hopefully we’ll see a performance where we’re tighter at the back, a bit more forceful and proactive in midfield and able to fashion more than the odd half-chance at the sharp end of the pitch.

I won’t be too upset if we don’t but on the other hand I don’t want to see a Salford side containing a smattering of ex-Lilywhites pick up their first league win of the season at Seel Park either.

FC Halifax Town 2 - 0 Mossley

If the following report appears rambling, repetitious and, frankly, rubbish, (even more so than usual) it's probably because it is.

The reason why is as I write, or rather type, it's a couple of minutes off three in the morning and I've been awake for twenty five and a bit hours straight. I should still be some way off the hallucinations that come with a prolonged lack of sleep but just in case, don't be too concerned if I suddenly start ranting about gorillas in spacesuits wanting to kill us all or type out a transcript of a conversation I'm having with the magical bear that's sitting next to me (he has a yellow hat).

I probably should have waited till I'd had at least a couple of minutes sleep before starting this recollection of events at The Shay but I might as well do it while it's fresh in the memory. Besides, it gives me something to do while I watch the coverage of the US elections.

After their five goal collapse at home to Newcastle at the weekend, the last team Mossley would have wanted to face in their next fixture was one currently on a long unbeaten streak, but in FC Halifax Town that's exactly what they came up against on Tuesday.

And though the scoreline shows that the Lilywhites failed to halt The Shaymen's run of positive results, what it doesn't tell is that it took a scrambled goal in injury time to finally kill off the Lilywhites hopes of rescuing a deserved point from a close game. Not that the early stages of the match gave any indication that that would be the case.

As expected for a side currently racking up the points , Halifax began the match in a mood that suggested they wanted to kill off the game as a contest as soon as possible. It's a wish they might have got as well had it not been for some strong defending from the visitors.

On the few occasions that the Lilywhites back line was breached, keeper Ashley Connor was proving to be an even tougher barrier for them to get past; none more so than when he produced a fingertip save to push a tenth minute shot from Junior Brown around the post.

For all the pressure they were exerting though, the home side weren't having things all their own way. The best chance of the half, in open play at least, fell Mossley's way and came when a series of one touch passes put Matty Berkeley clean through on goal but the forward snatched at his shot and hooked it wide of the goal with only the keeper to beat.

Matty Berkeley ponders what might have been...

The longer the half wore on the more it looked like the sides would be going in at the break level but that all changed when Halifax were awarded, what was from a Mossley perspective at least, a contentious penalty.

Not only did left-back Nick Challinor appear to have won the ball cleanly in a challenge with Cavell Coo, the incident also seemed to have taken place outside the Mossley box. After the lengthy protests had been waved away John Smith stepped up to the spot and stroked the ball past Connor to put his side ahead.

The goal gave the home side a visible boost and the Lilywhites survived more than a few close calls before the arrival of the interval, and in the five minutes immediately after it as well.

Following that initial flurry of action at the start of the second period the game slowly began to turn Mossley's way; the introduction at half-time of substitutes Ryan Cook and Daryl Weston adding some steel to the Lilywhites midfield and, as a consequence, wrestled a greater share of the possession away from their opponents. And with this increase came a growth in the number of chances that began to fall the Lilywhites way.

Weston had a shot bundled off the line, Michael Fish and Christian Hirst forced keeper Jon Kennedy into making two good reaction saves and numerous other players had efforts that flashed narrowly wide of the goal frame but try as they might - Mossley just couldn't divert the ball into the net.

The moment when they probably realised that it wasn't to be their night came with five minutes left. A powerful run down the right from Hirst ended with the winger finding Cook on the edge of the Halifax box and while his first time shot shot left Kennedy rooted to the spot, it couldn't beat the right hand upright.

Then came the killer blow to the Lancashire sides rapidly fading hopes of claiming what would have been a warranted point. A cheaply conceded free-kick was fired into the Mossley penalty area and after a series of ricochets Brown poked the ball over the line to seal the win.

It's fair to say that I approached this match with a fair amount of trepidation, particularly with the Blue Star match still a gaping and bloodied wound. If we were to repeat the performance from that game then we'd almost certainly be on the receiving end of a pummelling and the prospect of paying £10 to witness such a thing was frightening.

In the end I needn't have been worried. Yes – we lost. But after the way Halifax have strengthened since we beat them in September and the manner in which we've been weakened through departures and injuries, until that last minute goal all that separated the two sides was an extremely dubious penalty.

Naturally some Halifax fans will protest that it was the right decision but in his post match interview even Jim Vince, Town's manager, said that it wasn't a penalty and the fact that the referee started to give Mossley a few debatable decisions in its immediate aftermath (although none quite as generous as that penalty award) suggests that he'd realised he'd made an enormous cock-up.

In the end though if Mossley had taken just a small percentage of the chances they created, and likewise Halifax in the first half, the spot kick would just be a small footnote in the match. Unfortunately some good goalkeeping, allied with in parts some poor finishing and final balls, ensured that we drew a blank for the second game running.

If you were to glance at the Halifax websites you'd be under the impression that Mossley's improvement in the second half came as a result of The Shaymen choosing to sit deep. This does the Lilywhites an enormous disservice though as it lessens the obvious impact the introduction of Messrs Cook and Weston had at half-time.

To use a cliché, by simply getting “stuck in” they completely disrupted Halifax's game plan which up to that point had been serviced by their midfield's ability to move the ball around the centre of the pitch relatively unchecked. By denying them space Town had no option but to move the ball back towards their own goal before it was hurriedly unleashed up the pitch to no-one in particular as the defence was closed down.

Halifax stewards make one of their twice-a-minute patrols of the more rebellious element of the Mossley support

At the moment on TV John McCain is delivering his concession speech and in closing this report, I've got to echo in some way what he's saying about his election campaign and America, but transpose it three and a half thousand miles or so eastwards to football and yesterday evenings events in West Yorkshire – the battle might have been lost but there's no need for despondency as the future looks good.

Now to try and get some much needed sleep and it may be just that little bit easier now that I know someone who recently voluntarily had witches cast from her isn't a heartbeat away from the nuclear trigger.

Leopold: Don't forget to save it before you switch your computer off.

Me: Oh yes, thanks! I almost forgot. By the way, your hat has fallen off...

Mossley 0 - 5 Newcastle Blue Star

Halloween appeared to arrive at Seel Park a day later than the rest of the country as visitors Newcastle Blue Star showed a few tricks and treated themselves to five goals and three points in as one sided a game as you're likely to see all season.

The game started badly for the home side with Blue Star putting them under pressure straight from the kick-off, and it went steadily downhill from there, attaining the label of disastrous in the 28th minute; Newcastle effectively ending the game as a contest before even a third of it had elapsed when Paul Brayson, in addition to earlier strikes by Darren Craddock and David McTiernan, put the men from Tyneside three goals up.

That the scoreline was no different when half-time arrived was the one bright spot for Mossley at the end of the opening period. However there was to be no respite after the interval as within sixty seconds of the restart, three became four.

Receiving the ball twenty five yards from goal, Chris Emms was given the time and space to loft it accurately over three defenders and the goalkeeper for what would have been the goal of the game had Newcastle's fifth of the afternoon not surpassed it ten minutes later.

Brayson initially looked to have missed the chance of doubling his account when, in a race for possession with Mossley keeper Ashley Connor, his heavy touch appeared to have sent the ball off for a goal kick. A sudden turn of speed however enabled him to stop it dead on the touchline and from the acutest angle possible on a football pitch, the Blue Star forward somehow managed to steer the ball past two covering defenders and into the goal.

With a little over twenty minutes of the game remaining Newcastle keeper Dan Lawson was finally called on to do something other than sweep up over hit long balls, the visitor's custodian having to make a smart reaction save stop a header from Michael Fish sneaking past him. He looked a little less convincing a short time later when he almost fumbled a Scott Holt cross into his own net but he wasn't to be tested any further in the game.

The scoreline could have had an even more emphatic look for the visitors had they taken just a fraction of their chances in the closing stages of the game, but the welcome sound of the final whistle, at least it was welcomed from a Mossley perspective, ensured that their tally would remain at just the five.

Whether things would have been any different if Mossley had been able to field something approaching their first choice eleven, rather than another reshuffled line-up brought about by the injury crisis that is currently enveloping the club, is probably a moot point as if Newcastle's performance in this game was indicative of how they play every match, I doubt that many sides in this division, even those operating at full strength, will better them over the course of the season.

And to be honest, when a club allegedly has a weekly wage bill that's equivalent to the GDP of a medium sized African nation, you'd certainly expect them to be good.

Then again it's hard to judge precisely just how good they were because of Mossley's total ineffectiveness over the course of the ninety minutes. Despite the aforementioned caveat regarding our current predicament there's no denying that there was a touch of the horror show from the home side, and it was one which made The Exorcist look like an episode of Father, Dear Father*.

As somebody said at the match, losing to five unanswered goals isn't the problem – it's the manner in which you do and with the exception of a few players, we struggled to avoid being third best in what was a two horse race.

Not for the first, second or even third time this season we've come up against a side who've closed us down quickly and in doing so won the game because we've been unable to counteract it. Instead we just seem to drop deeper and deeper and hope that we can make something out of a succession of long punts up the pitch to an increasingly isolated front line.

You've got to have some sympathy for Ashley Connor too. After standing behind the most porous back line in Mossley's recent history (and in doing so playing an instrumental role in our goals against column not hitting the 200 mark last season), he must have been suffering more flashbacks than 'Nam veteran on the Fourth of July on his return to the club.

None of the blame for the goals can be placed solely on his shoulders as they were either the result of a brilliant finish and some good build-up play or defending that wouldn't have looked out of place in a two reeler from Mack Sennet's studios.

With a trip to the rapidly improving Shaymen of Halifax next up for the Lilywhites it's to be hoped that this result, injuries or not, is the shock to the system Mossey needed in order to rediscover their early season form. If it doesn't act like the metaphorical bucket of cold water though, and the cavalry remain on the injury list, we could be in for a long night in West Yorkshire this Tuesday.

What may happen is all conjecture though and to end an upbeat note, as the Roman philosopher Horace once said:

"Live as brave men and face adversity with stout hearts."

In doing so you just never know what might transpire on the other side of the Pennines in a couple of days time...

* Other similies considered for this bit included:
  • Nightmare On Elm Street/In The Night Garden
  • Shining/Bananas In Pyjamas
  • Cannibal Holocaust/Ready Steady Cook
  • Hostel/Holiday programme
  • Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisp/Frasier