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.