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