The End

And you've no idea how close that heading above came to meaning something other than just 'of the the year.'

That's right, what you're reading now came very close to being a valedictory post - a farewell to the few. But as you can see though, a late change of heart obviously took place and we're still here. The reasons as to why this very site your reading almost took a trip to the digital equivalent of Dignitas will remain between me and... well, just me really.

Anyway, as Mossley80 is still here for the foreseeable future I think I'd better make the now traditional last post of the year.

So if you're a player, part of the management, one of the backroom staff, a member of the committee and board, a helper at the ground or a fellow supporter I'd like to wish you a Happy New Year.

And to those of you who still go to the trouble of visiting this little corner of the World Wide Web occasionally, I want to say thank you for doing so and to wish you all the best for the coming year.

As I can't finish on a song (I could but I don't want to end the year on a low note and a multitude of wrong ones) I'll end with a video. Or two to be more precise.

What they contain are some of the footballing highlights of 2009 and by 'highlights' I don't mean good goals, incredible bits of skill or great saves. What follows are bits everyone wants to watch again and again so sit back, relax and watch some unbelievable misses, referees getting hit by the ball, referees hitting players, Jens Lehman getting shown up by a ball boy, Elizabeth Lambert (U.S. college football's very own no-nonsense tackler) and much, much more.

Once again though, a Happy New Year and see you in 2010.

The Seasonal Thing...

Well! The updates have been a bit sparse over the past week haven't they?

For that I apologise. I had planned to do something special for Christmas week but, sadly, some far less trivial matters arose which take an infinitely greater priority over blog writing. Anyway, there's always next year (he says tempting fate nth year running).

As there's likely to be an absence of football to report on during this festive season due to the weather, I'll endeavour to post something on here before the year is up - even if it's only a lazy link to something on YouTube.

With that out of the way, all that remains for me to do in this particular update is impart my usual Christmas message. So what ever your role is at Seel Park, be it player, manager, coach, committee member, helper or supporter - a Happy Christmas!

And to you, the few who still visit this site regularly, be you in England, New Zealand, Russia or any of the other 192 countries that make up this planet - a very Merry Christmas to you too.

Coming soon: Mossley80 wishes everyone a 'something' New Year. Will that 'something' be happy or horrible? Tune in next week to find out.

Salford City 4 - 1 Mossley

Is it just me or is anyone else looking back on that fourteen game unbeaten run we had in the same way that people of a certain age remember parts of a town were once 'nowt but fields'?

It may only have been a little over a month ago that we looked unconquerable but after recent results and performances it seems like it was a lifetime ago. I've just had a look at some of the video I took during that spell and was slightly surprised to find that it wasn't in black and white.

Why such a gloomy and dispirited opening? Well, I'll tell you. It's because the up-down nature of Mossley's season continued at Salford's Moor Lane ground as they followed up their victory over promotion chasing Bamber Bridge with a heavy defeat against a side desperately trying to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle. The latter description being one that may be applied to us soon if we're not careful.

I say up-down... it's actually been more down than up. In fact its been down and further down until we've reached the point we're currently at where the shovels are coming out in preparation for some digging.

Anyway, speaking as I was of things past (sort of), every December there always used to be a 'Circus Special' on television. A programme which enticed families to gather round the goggle box and “Ooo” at the acrobats, “Aww” at the animals and curse like merchant seamen when the clowns came on to do their, oh so hilarious, bucket of confetti/water schtick.

Those days are long gone now but it was nice of Mossley to rekindle those distant memories of Billy Smart's Big Top with their own modern take on that former Christmas staple. So while the 'March of the Gladiators' plays in the background, let me bring you Salford vs Mossley! Where you'll read about an incredible fifteen minute spell before the interval in which the visitors conceded a comedy penalty, a soft goal, an own goal and had a man sent off.

Before the zaniness began though the game had been relatively even. There was little in the way of entertainment (at least from what I could make out under Salford's apparently 1 LUX strength floodlights) but the best chance had fallen the Lilywhites way. It came midway through the half when Matty Kay was sent clear of the Ammies defence with a well placed through ball. However, with only the keeper to beat Mossley's leading scorer hooked a weak, bobbling shot well wide of the goal. However it was more than Salford had managed, as despite playing some nice passing football they'd produced precisely nothing in the way of trouble for Mossley keeper Peter Collinge.

That all changed though when a lofted cross into the box hit Lee Blackshaw on the back as he tried to duck out of the way. The left winger (who at times on the night was also our last line of defence) then failed to connect with the ball during an attempt to clear it to safety; his swinging leg instead making contact with a City player who proceeded to hit the ground like a 747 with no undercarriage. The referee had little option other than to award the home side a penalty which ex-Lilywhite Rhodri Giggs converted.

Within a matter minutes things got even worse for the visitors as Sam Walker was shown a straight red card for a lunging tackle on Salford full-back Alex Mortimer and Craig Mahon capitalised on some slack defending (others would say non-existent but I like to put a positive spin on things) to put the home side two goals up.

Salford had a few more opportunities to increase their lead but the salt was really rubbed into the wounds on the stroke of half time as Collinge became the second Mossley player on the night to miss the ball while attempting to kick it. Unfortunately, what with being the goalkeeper, his “swing and a miss” allowed Graham Kay's softly hit back pass to roll past him and slowly into the net. Laugh? I had to or else it's quite possible I'd have cried!

The uphill battle Mossley faced in the second half could have been even steeper in the few minutes immediately after the restart. A point blank save by Collinge stopped David Neville putting the home side four up before Tom Spearitt turned a Salford free-kick onto his own goal post. It was hard to know what made the louder noise: the ball clanging off the upright or the collective sound of the Mossley supporters heads as they banged them on the pitch surround in frustration.

Faint hopes of what would have been a remarkable, and frankly Lazarus like, comeback were ignited when Matty Kay finally got his name on the score sheet in the 68th minute. Raising the dead is one thing though, injecting some into a listless Unibond First Division side is another and while Christmas may be a time of miracles, there are some things even beyond the capabilities of an all powerful, omnipotent being. And so those rekindled hopes were quashed when Neville restored the Ammies three goal advantage not long after.

We can bemoan that we didn't have the rub of the green, that fortune was against us but the simple truth is there's no so thing as an unlucky 4-1 defeat. 1-0, yes. 2-0, on occasions. But 4-1?

The penalty actually was a tad unlucky. It was just one of those things in which fate conspires against you - where destiny turns into a pigeon and craps in your eye as you look skywards to see if it has stopped raining. That said the ball should have been cleared.

Sam Walker's tackle may not have injured Alex Mortimer in the manner with which the former Mossley player reacted, but when you fly into a tackle the way he did you can't blame the referee for issuing a red. Lets not forget either that it was his third wild challenge within the space of a minute, the red mist having descended after being on the receiving end of a nasty foul himself. No lack of luck there, just self-discipline.

The second goal was down to bad defending. A simple lobbed ball from the halfway line towards the edge of the box and the Salford forward ran through a static back line to tap the ball home. Goal number three - a wild kick instead of the controlling the ball and game over. Honestly, if this result was down to having no luck then we'd have lost by more as I can think of more than a few moments which went our way rather fortuitously.

The fact we lost was down to us simply not being good enough. That for the second time in a fortnight we were out-thought and out-fought by a team at the trap door end of the division. Another ninety minutes in which some players were noticeable by their absence even though, according to the team sheet, they were on the pitch.

I'd love to be able to but being only a humble football supporter I can't explain the reasoning behind the decision to relocate Steve Settle from centre forward to right wing back. A move which has turned our most dangerous player and 50% of a forward line that was scoring goals for fun (as well as their weekly remunerations) into a peripheral figure. His impact on games since his switch to the wing has been so minimal that somebody asked midway through the second period if he'd touched the ball since the interval, only for me to tell them he'd been substituted at the break.

Hopefully the current malaise is nothing more than a temporary blip – a small slump we have to grin and bear before we ascend the crest of another period of imperious form. If it isn't... <gulp>!

The Lilywhites now make an equally short trip to face Trafford and it's to be hoped that it's their 'Dr Jekyll' side that turns up at Shawe View. If it's the 'Mr Hyde' version though - the one which allowed a struggling Salford side to do the double over them (and register their first home win of the season) - it's doubtful that Mossley will head into the Christmas fixtures with much seasonal cheer.

One circus performance a year is more than enough without a matinee four days later.

Mossley 1 - 0 Bamber Bridge

I'm not one to blow my own trumpet but my ability to write bunkum at times is pretty impressive.

Take this game for example: it was poor. Remove the two red cards and the goal and your left with almost ninety minutes of tedious, indescribable banality. Despite all this though I've somehow managed to knock out 600 plus words about it! Incredible, eh? Just imagine how big it could get if something exciting happened... the report I mean!

As it was though it the one moment of quality football, in a match that was otherwise devoid of it, was enough to return Mossley to winning ways after three consecutive defeats.

A good indicator that a game isn't quite as exciting as it could be is when the spectators spend more time looking at their watches than the match being played in front of them. And for the vast majority of the opening period that's precisely what most of the people filling the terraces at Seel Park were doing they were doing as Mossley and Bamber Bridge produced a first half that was as forgettable a forty five minutes of football as you're ever likely to see this season.

The sum total of both sides efforts during this time was a single shot apiece. Bridge's Danny Mahoney brought a routine stop out of Peter Collinge with a long range strike while Steve Moore scuffed only Mossley's opportunity wide of the goal in the fifth minute.

Thankfully what followed the after the interval was an improvement on what had gone before it, even if it was only marginal. The reason for this slight upturn was mostly down to Mossley retaking the pitch looking a more determined and focussed side than the one that had left it fifteen minutes earlier. Within the first ten minutes of the restart they'd tripled their shot count for the afternoon as Steve Moore forced Mike Hale into making two saves before the same player had a goal, correctly, ruled out for offside.

Bamber Bridge on the other hand seemed to be more pre-occupied with giving away needless free-kicks than troubling their opponents defence. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen a team quite so hell bent on getting into trouble from the referee – it really was something quite extraordinary to watch. As the half wore on the number of illegal, and often unnecessary, challenges grew steadily before the self-destruct button was finally pushed in the 74th minute – centre half Martin Moran receiving a straight red card for cutting Michael Fish down just outside the box when he only had Hale to beat.

After a lengthy delay caused by Moran pleading his innocence (even though in the immediate aftermath of the foul he'd spent an age pointing out to the referee precisely where in the D he'd tripped Fish), the free kick resulting from the incident was taken and ultimately wasted but it didn't take the Lilywhites long to make the extra man count.

With nine minutes left the first lengthy spell of consecutive passes by either side saw Mossley send Steve Settle clear down the right wing. As defenders began to converge on him he rolled a low cross directly into the path of the inrushing Matty Kay, who slid the ball past Hale from twelve yards for his fifteenth goal of the season.

The visitors chances of getting something from the match were then dealt a further blow when Chris Marlow became the second Bridge defender to be ordered from the field of play by the match official. The full-back's two yellow cards both coming for fouls on Settle.

A looping cross come shot by Karl Brown would have doubled Mossley's lead had it not been acrobatically tipped to safety by Hale in injury time, but it was also in these closing stages that the nine men went close to grabbing an unlikely point. A free-kick awarded just outside the angle of the box was whipped towards goal by Richie Allen but Collinge was alert enough to scramble across his line to pluck the ball out of the air before it altered the score line.

It's a game that won't remembered for long but this was one of those times were the result was far, far more important than the performance as it not only arrested a poor run of results but allowed Mossley to register only their second home league win of the season.

I could add more but apart from offering my congratulations to the players and management for the win, I'd like to begin forgetting this game as soon as possible. Starting now.

Chip Wrappers: And Our Opponents Are?

I know mistakes are sometimes unavoidable - goodness knows I've made enough of them myself on here down the years - but from tonight's Oldham Chronicle (11/12/2009):

Original article here.

Personally speaking I'm hoping it's Bamford who turn up as the way we're playing at the moment I'd rather face a team from the Hope Valley League (Division B) than a side currently sitting seventh in the Unibond North. That way we can at least hope for a draw.

Lancaster City 3 - 0 Mossley

This is going to be brief.

I didn't go to Lancaster to watch this League Cup game but thanks to the match commentary provided by Bailrigg FM I was able to keep up-to-date with events at the Giant Axe from the comfort of my own home. I say comfort even though the listening was anything but.

The coverage itself was excellent with the commentators doing their damnedest to inject some life into a game that appeared, from the moment Lancaster scored their first goal anyway, to be a foregone conclusion. Selected highlights from the two hours of coverage being the ongoing discussion about Andy Watson looking like Jaap Stam, the ever changing pronunciations of Nathan Neequaye's name (Neekie, Nekwee, Newquay being just a few of the variants) and the off mic 'When Harry Met Sally' moment as the female commentator learnt of Barrow's result in the FA Cup.

However one of the themes running throughout the evening wasn't funny at all and you can't blame Bailrigg for harping on about it. The theme in question being how bad Mossley were. They didn't pull their punches either. What was being said by four people who hadn't seen us before this season was much the same as comments made at Woodley last week and at games in August and September.

Speaking as a supporter it's frustrating because we've seen over the last two months or so just how really good Mossley can be at times. Recently though it's like we've slipped back into the bad old ways; good passing moves have been replaced by a one which involves a solitary pass that travels most of the length of the pitch. That's not to say that the home team weren't shy in belting it forward as after Lancaster, City and Mossley, the most repeated words on the night were ball and long.

The home side went ahead with their first shot of the match in the 19th minute before adding two more late on. Going off the commentary nothing happened in-between that suggested Mossley would trouble the scoreline. We had a half chance in the first period and that was about it, although in the post game round up one of the commentators did say we had two efforts that were way off target. So it wasn't all bad then!

Hopefully things will get back on track when Bamber Bridge vist Seel Park on Saturday and we'll go into Christmas with our first home win in the league for three months. Admittedly we've only had one league home game during that time but a victory would still be nice.

Trafford 0 - 2 Clitheroe

I'll readily admit that while there are many things I'm not good at (a claim the regular readers of this blog will no doubt concur with), making accurate predictions is a skill I'm particularly lacking in. However I think I can declare with some confidence that a significant number of Mossley supporters will have breathed a sigh of relief when the news came through that the game at Bamber Bridge had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

I'm aware too that those same supporters won't admit to that being the case but after the debacle - yes, I have no qualms in labelling it a debacle - at Lambeth Grove the previous Tuesday the threat of something worse happening against a much better team was a very real possibility.

The postponement though meant that for the second weekend running the hunt was on for another game to attend. The local Conference North games were dismissed from the "which match" equation very early on (and forever will be while they charge £10 admission), swiftly followed by Curzon's fixture with Warrington (it was cold enough as it was on Saturday without making it worse by standing on the terraces of a stadium with a design flaw that accentuates it). This left just two possibilities: a match at Abbey Hey and one at Trafford.

As games in Gorton have never been pleasurable experiences (matches often taking third place to wondering 1) just what the ker-azy locals are going to lob over the perimeter next and 2) whether it will hit you or not) it was decided that Trafford versus Clitheroe would be the match of choice. But then you already knew that by looking at the heading to this post didn't you?

Initial fears that the journey to the opposite of Manchester would be punctuated by hold-ups at notorious Christmas traffic black spots - the Ashton bypass, Stockport and the Trafford Centre - proved to be unfounded as the roads were empty. Seriously. No snarl-ups, no go slows, no stops, no waiting... it was like Christmas Day itself rather than the third Saturday before it.

Anyway, talking about traffic density (or the lack of it) isn't talking about the match. Then again there's not really much to discuss their either. A good, if fractious, first half gave way to a pretty dull second period that was enlivened briefly by a mass punch-up instigated by a series of reckless tackles by Melford Knight. How he managed to avoid a red card and remain on the pitch for ninety minutes is a puzzle only equalled by that of how his opposite number, Gavin Lee Ellison, did likewise. That's right! Two of Mossley's greatest ever midfielders were on show and what a master class they provided. Not too sure what it was in though...

The highlight of the handbag war however was Clitheroe's keeper running three quarters of the length of the pitch to join the melee before doing his best 'hold me back' posture; a situation which would have looked less ridiculous if some one actually had been trying to hold him back. Instead he looked like a very bad mime artist trying to walk into an imaginary strong wind.

With seven minutes of the game left Clitheroe took the lead and in injury time they added a second; a thunderous shot from distance which hit the crossbar twice before going into the net.

It wasn't the greatest game in the world but it was by no means the worst either. I realise that's a terrible way to sum up a match but there's nothing more to be said about it really. No, wait! Hang on! There was the er, ... ... the erm, ... ... Sorry! Thought I'd remembered something for a moment then but I hadn't.

Never mind, eh?

Woodley Sports 2 - 1 Mossley

It may be only two weeks since Mossley were on the crest of a fourteen game winning run but it felt like another lifetime ago as the Lilywhites crashed to a thoroughly deserved defeat at the Lambeth Grove home of Woodley Sports.

No, your eyes do not deceive you; I did say that this defeat to a team third bottom of the league, and with only previous victory this season, was deserved. It would be nice to be able to bend the truth a little and claim that we were somehow unlucky, the victims of a miscarriage of football justice but we weren't. We were just downright Bad. That's right, bad with capital b.

Apart from a moment in the second half when Topsy made a late bid for the Christmas number one spot with a self-composed ditty about skateboards, there was little to warm the travelling supporters on a bitterly cold and wet night in Stockport. In fact it's hard not to feel every chilling bite of an icy wind when the side you've travelled the best part of ooh, a quarter of an hour to watch are outplayed, out thought and out fought by their opponents from virtually the sound of the first whistle to the last. And believe me, I wish I was exaggerating with that particular point.

It was only the reflexes of goalkeeper Peter Collinge that stopped Mossley from being a goal down within the first five minutes of the match after Antoni Sarcevic (who was booked 10 seconds into the match) effortlessly sliced open the barrier of white shirts in front of him. The ease with which he bore down on the visitors goal should have served as a warning for the Lilywhites but it went ignored and they were punished for it in the 21st minute. Picking the ball up on the halfway line, Sarcevic moved unchallenged to the edge of the Mossley box and a short pass into the path of Kris Dennis gave his team mate the opportunity to the find the net with a low shot.

That Mossley were still only a single goal behind by the half hour point of the match was a touch surprising but not quite as surprising as the goal which enabled them to go into the break on level terms with their hosts. Before Steve Moore netted the equaliser from the penalty spot – Woodley's punishment for a clumsy and unnecessary challenge by Matt Cotton on Mike Fish – the Lilywhites had shown absolutely no threat as an attacking force at all. Again I have to point out that I'm not embroidering the truth for effect here, the penalty was our first anything of note.

Unfortunately the goal didn't lay any foundations for better showing after the interval. Woodley continued to look the better of the two sides and Collinge was again called upon a couple of times to keep them at bay. In the 73rd minute however he was beaten for the second time in the match. And to make matters worse it came directly from a rare Mossley attack.

A disastrous (although the word laughable would suffice to) corner routine allowed the home side to quickly counter but their surge forward looked to have come to nothing as the Mossley defence broke up the attack. The sighs of relief from the visiting fans on the terraces were caught mid-exhale though as a sloppy pass handed the ball straight back to Woodley and from the halfway line, Gary Gee lobbed the ball over a furiously back-pedalling Collinge and into the net. The sound of celebrations from Woodley deafened by a mixture of two four letter expletives that were tripping loudly off a sizeable proportion of the Mossley supporters tongues.

There was still time to mount a comeback though but in response the visitors could only manage to muster a couple of half chances before the end of the game. Substitute Nathan Neequaye hit the side netting and an effort from distance by Matty Kay was spilt by Ben Connett but the home sides claim on the three points was never really challenged.

The final whistle was the cue for some cup winning-esque scenes as Woodley celebrated their rare and undeniably merited victory (I didn't stop long enough to see if they went on a lap of honour). Mossley on the other hand slinked quietly off the pitch (tut-tut if you're thinking well that's what they did on it too), ruminating on a performance that was far, far below the standard they've shown recently. At least I hope they were as it was one of the two things I exited the ground wondering. The other thing being whether or not I'd ever get the feeling back in my fingers in time to write this report and you know what? I wish they hadn't and I'd put money on the fact that you're thinking the same too!

I've thought long and hard to come up with a list of positives from the night yet after all the deliberating, cogitating and digesting I've done, there still only remains one item on it: the match came to an end. And we were made to wait longer than expected for that as the referee bolted an additional and inexplicable five minutes of injury time onto the end of the game. As if we weren't suffering enough already!

The list of negatives though runs to many pages of a Microsoft Word document. You'll be be happy to know that I'm not going to cut and paste them into here but just to give you a taster of what was on the roll call of downers: the incessant use of the long ball, despite the touchline imploring of the manager not to do it, to two forwards who aren't suited for it; two forwards so similar that they were making the same runs into the same space, the result of which was that we were effectively playing with on man upfront; Steve Settle, one of the best players of the last two months when playing in attack, being forced to spend another night as a peripheral figure in the wing back position while the player who excelled in that role, Ben Richardson, spends another match on the bench as an unused substitute...

I could go on – trust me, I really could – but if you were there you know how bad it was and what was wrong. If you weren't, sorry! But the memories are still too painful to relive again this early, if ever. In fact why am I sorry? You were the lucky ones.

Hopefully the Mossley side that up till two weeks ago went fourteen matches unbeaten will make a return for their next game at Bamber Bridge. If it doesn't then we can only expect more of the same, just with a longer, more miserable trip home.

Oldham Boro 2 - 3 Cheadle Town

In various corners of the media there's a growing support for the belief that global warming is a myth. The evidence they use to back up their claims are recent scientific reports that say the earth's temperature has actually cooled over the last few years.

I on the other hand would like to counter those claims with some evidence of my own that proves the earth is getting warmer: it's taken till the end of November for Mossley to have their first match postponed due to the weather.

Usually by this stage of the season, the T.B.A. section at the bottom of the fixture list is already full of meetings that have been delayed by frost, freezing fog, etc. Yet here we are, about to open the first door on our Advent Calendars and we've only had one 'Match Off!' posting on the forum.

It wasn't only Mossley's game with Ossett Albion that the deluge over the last few days affected. A sizeable chunk of fixtures across the north-west were written off through waterlogged pitches; a situation which led some hasty scrambling around on the internet to find a local game to attend.

Three possibilities presented themselves. However a total lack of desire to see Droylsden vs Hyde (£10 to watch that - no thank you) or Ashton United vs North Ferriby United (like the Robins but not enough to watch them at Hurst Cross in the rain) meant there was only one option left.

So with flask, gloves and umbrellas packed we headed to the Whitebank Stadium to see fellow visitors Cheadle Town take on Oldham Town, sorry, Boro in the Vodkat League Division One Trophy; the presence of four Mossley supporters with nothing better to do bumping the gate up by almost 13% and swelling the clubs coffers by £17.90.

I'm not going to go into enormous detail about the match but if you want to read about what happened then I recommend checking out the report here because it's a) better than one I could ever come up with and b) the person who wrote it actually knows the names of the players.

To sum things up briefly though, it was a genuinely enjoyable game with both sides trying to play good, passing football on a pitch that was suitable for anything but. The result was harsh on Oldham too who dominated most of the game but ultimately paid the price for not getting enough of their chances on target; something that's known as being 'a bit Mossley-ish'.

Anyway, in what's likely to be one of the least watched videos I've ever done, you can see some of the events that unfolded in the following highlights... thingy:

It wasn't a bad way to spend what would have been an otherwise depressing afternoon watching Manchester City snatch a draw from victory's jaws against Hull via the internet. Actually I enjoyed it enough to think about making another visit sometime in the near future.

Before that though it's off to watch Mossley at Woodley Sports on Tuesday where, barring another outbreak of swine flu at Lambeth Grove or the plastic pitch bio-degrading within the space of two days, the match will definitely go ahead.

Woodley on a cold and possibly wet Tuesday night in December, I can't wait... for it to be over.

Mossley 0 - 2 Ilkeston Town

After a series of bangs in this years FA Trophy, Mossley exited it the competition with a bit of a whimper as, on what's turning out to be a stereotypically wet and windy Tuesday night at Seel Park, a replay against Blue Square North side Ilkeston Town proved to be a game too far for the Unibond North club.

The initial match three days earlier had, despite the difference of two divisions between the teams, been an evenly fought contest. The initial stages of this fixture though were anything but as Ilkeston dominated possession (a situation helped by Mossley continually handing it to them) and pinned the Lilywhites into their own half of the pitch for long periods.

Barely three minutes had gone when the first chance of the evening presented itself. Foreshadowing what would be Mossley's downfall later in the match, left winger Rory Prendergast (on one of the rare occasions he remained upright while a white shirt within twenty yards of him) took advantage of some lax marking to power a header towards goal, only for his effort to be met by a very good save from Peter Collinge.

The keeper though was beaten a couple of minutes later by an opportunistic effort from Gary Ricketts but on this occasion the upright came to both his and his colleagues assistance. Ricketts profligacy then came to Mossley's rescue as the Town striker spurned some good chances, notably through his Thierry Henry-esque ability to touch the ball with his hand during the build-up.

One can only assume that it was the tiresome regularity with which he appeared to be auditioning for the role of Kobe Bryant's successor at the LA Lakers that the referee stopped punishing him for it in the second half. Then again this was the same official who, three days earlier, declared a fully intentioned back pass to be accidental and let Prendergast go unpunished for two horrible tackles, so we shouldn't rule old fashioned incompetence out of the equation either.

The Lilywhites then successfully endured a series free-kicks just outside their own penalty area before surviving what appeared to be a very good claim for a penalty as Ricketts was sent crashing to the ground courtesy of an ill-advised tackle.

When the home side finally stopped trying to wallop the ball as hard as they could in the general direction of the goal at the opposite end of the pitch, they began to get a foothold in the game. In fact they began to cause a great deal of panic in their opponents defence by simply attacking them with the ball on the floor. And had it not been for a spectacular double save by Dan Lowson to deny Lee Blackshaw and Matty Kay, and the former again not long after, the Lilywhites would have held the lead when the half-time whistle blew.

However, rather than being a promise of better things to come after the interval, it turned out to be the only threat Mossley would pose on the night.

The second half was, to put it mildly, one way traffic as Town controlled it in the same way they'd done the opening thirty minutes of the first and Mossley returned to pumping the ball high into the strong wind blowing into their faces.

Even though they weren't creating quite as many chances as they had been in the previous period, a goal looked an inevitability and it duly arrived just before the hour. Having failed to heed the warning about leaving players unmarked when Ricketts fired wide just after the restart, Mossley paid the price for leaving the same man to his own devices at a corner in the 55th minute; the Robins' forward heading the ball through what appeared to be a crowd of statues and into the net.

The failure to close players down came back to haunt Mossley once more when the deficit was doubled five minutes later. O'Loughlin was allowed to stand unchallenged for what seemed like an age with the ball at his feet just inside the Mossley half, giving him time to pick out the head of Ricketts with a lofted pass which was in turn looped over Collinge from the edge of the box.

With the Lilywhites showing little sign of staging a late comeback (something which has been a feature of their last three games in the FA Trophy) the second goal effectively signalled an end to the game as a contest.

With Mossley looking unlikely claw their way back into the game, the referee could have done everyone a favour and brought the game to a close with over a third of it still remaining. At least that way we'd have been spared the embarrassing sight of Ilkeston players throwing themselves to the ground in order to win a penalty.

The "Curzon Ashton award for trying to seek an unfair advantage" on the night went to Sam Duncum who didn't even wait for a challenge to come in before plummeting to earth like a dead pigeon. It was a spectacularly appalling piece of gamesmanship but it needed to be to wrestle the award of out Rory Prendergast's grasp who'd gone for quantity and not quality in terms of his theatrics.

It was a truly embarrassing spectacle to not only watch players throw themselves to the ground in a game they were winning 2-0, but the referee refuse to take any action either. As I've already made my feelings known about the man in black though I won't bore you again here with another rant about his head slapping approach to officiating the game.

Admittedly the late introduction of a two man attack did allow Mossley to huff and puff a little but the results were similar to those experienced by the wolf in the final chapter of The Three Little Pigs; the sum total of their efforts being nothing more than a solitary corner kick.

Some things are meant to be - this just never looked like being.

I'm not going to be overly critical of a side that has spent the vast majority of the last two months unbeaten; a period of time during which they've played some very good, nay excellent, football and have a lot to be proud of. You can't help but feel though that this game is going to be one looked back on with a bit of disappointment and a touch of regret as they were not the best they and we know they can be.

Of course some credit for this does go to Ilkeston who looked decidedly more focused than they had been the previous Saturday but you don't really have to do anything special when your opponents are playing right into your hands.

One of our best outlets over recent weeks has been Steve Settle yet he was turned into a peripheral figure in this game. Three days earlier he'd posed so much of a threat to Ilkeston that at one point in the closing stages of that game he had three players marking him. In this fixture though he rarely saw the ball, though to be honest hardly any of the attacking players saw much of it as Mossley spent the vast majority of the game pinging it from one end of the pitch to the other. Yes, after months of good passing football the long ball made a dreaded reappearance.

I'm not saying that a ranging ball from the back can't be an effective tool, it can be a devastating weapon in a teams arsenal. There are two things though that can negate that effect. The first is the weather. If it's windy it's more than likely that any punt forward will be over hit if the breeze is behind you and a complete waste of time if you're kicking into it. Secondly, if the focus of your attack is a lone, diminutive centre forward (and one who spends 50% of them walking back to an onside position after the previous one) he's not going to stand a chance against a couple of towering centre halves.

Sadly though the presence of both these drawbacks didn't stop us from continually hitting it high and long. It can be argued that the pressure Town were exerting was causing us to 'lump it' but that doesn't stand up under close scrutiny. There were numerous occasions during the game when Mossley had time to build an attack but the short pass to an unmarked colleague was often overlooked in favour of the hoof to no-one in particular.

It's not as though the pitch was unplayable as Ilkeston were managing to knock the ball around on the floor. And we did too for a 15 minute spell before the break - a period during which we had Town wobbling like the flag pole was in the strong wind. But for reasons unknown we abandoned this working approach in favour of the one that wasn't when the second half began.

It's all done and dusted though now. The game is consigned to the history books and will no doubt be the topic of numerous “What if?” discussions over the coming days and weeks, though probably not months and years. All that remains to be seen is how we bounce back from this defeat against Ossett in the next game. Hopefully we'll be back to having attacking wing backs, a well fed forward line, a dominant midfield and a commanding defence giving Peter Collinge little to do. Weather and team selections permitting of course.

But to end (yes, this is going to end) despite my criticisms of the way in which we left the Trophy I'd like to say a big thank you to the players and management for giving us a cup run that has the left me, and no doubt many others, with some indelible memories. Hopefully the success such efforts deserve to be rewarded with will not be long in coming.

Ilkeston Town 1 - 1 Mossley

Time. Unfortunately it's something I don't have enough of at the moment - especially today - so circumstances dictate that, another fantastic late comeback or not, this is going to be a very short match report.

Therefore I'm not going to be able to menion things like: some of the baffling refereeing decisions; Ilkeston's cynical fouling as Mossley gained the upper hand in the last ten minutes (I'm looking at you Town no.3, Mr Prendergast); the cold chips and soggy salt; the Robin's manager Kevin Wilson being hilariously sent to the stand as panic set in; the lack of any kind of notification as to how much injury time would be added on to the end of the game (six and half minutes as it turned out) and, as K-Tel used to claim about their compilation albums, many, many more.

So instead, it's straight to the 'very straight' match report with a bit of a bonus on the end...

For the second round running in the FA Trophy a late goal from Steve Moore, though not quite as last gasp as the one at Brackley, was enough to earn Mossley a draw against higher level opposition and force a replay.

The first half was almost as drab as the weather hanging above the Blue Square North sides New Manor Ground. Only twice beneath the wet and grey sky did the game burst into a modicum of life.

The first occasion was when an early spell of pressure saw Peter Collinge produce an excellent save to deny Gary Rickett as broke through the visitors defence, followed moments later by an equally good stop to prevent Amari Morgan-Smith from opening the scoring.

Midway through the half it became Mossley's turn to threaten the score line. Steve Settle brought a good save out of Dan Lowson with a stinging shot and the resulting corner, an inswinger from Karl Brown, was somehow bundled off the line by Paul Dempsey as players in white shirts bore down on him.

That proved to be the last noteworthy event of the opening period and the dull first half gave way to what looked like being an even duller second until Ilkeston took a 55th minute lead. Mossley looked to have dealt comfortably with a Town attack but an ill-advised pass across the edge of the box was intercepted by Sam Duncum who, after cutting past Andy Russell, curled a shot beyond the reach of Collinge.

It was only after they edged themselves in front that Ilkeston began to look, albeit briefly, like a team two divisions higher than their opponents. Rickett fired wide when it looked far easier to score and Dan Holmes hit the post as the visitors confined Mossley to their own defensive third of the pitch.

Their failure to take any of these chances proved to be costly when Mossley levelled the score with eleven minutes of the match remaining. It was literally a goal out of nowhere too as even though they'd had the same amount of possession as their hosts, the Lilywhites had barely mounted an attack, let alone managed a shot in anger, since the interval.

Taking advantage of some indecision in Town's midfield, Jordan Goodeve played a pass through the centre of the home defence to Steve Moore. After taking one touch to control the ball Moore drove it low past Lowson with his second to give the visitors a shock leveller.

Not surprisingly the goal gave Mossley a huge lift and for the first time in the half the home team were having to defend deeply. There was to be only one more chance though before the final whistle and it fell the way of the Lilywhites; Russell's powerful header from a Settle cross however could only find the hands of Lowson.

Taking the game as a whole though the draw was probably the fairest result, meaning that both teams will now have to face one another again at what's likely to be an even wet and windier Seel Park.

Anyway, here's the bonus bit that you've probably skipped through what's written above to see.

I don't have the time to do edit the footage together as I normally would so it's a bit rough and ready (i.e. rubbish and why it's on Viddler and not YouTube yet) but you don't really care do you? You just want to see Mossley go close to scoring before eventually doing just that and that's precisely what the following video does:

FC Halifax Town 2 - 1 Mossley

If you were to list the various sporting titles and trophies available in this country in order of importance, the Unibond League President's cup would be ranked somewhere alongside those certificates handed out to kids who finish last in sports day's at school's for the athletically challenged.

It's a blight on the season. A cup with no prestige that inhabits the fixture lists like an unpleasant odour and is a guaranteed money loser for all involved; a competition in what little cash is received through the small attendances will barely cover the cost of switching the lights on, let alone any of the other expenses accrued.

As long as there's a final for some people to look important at and a free buffet for dignitaries to hoover up, I'm afraid we'll have to put up with it.

Naturally after all that you're undoubtedly expecting me to say something like "So I'm glad we're out of it" but I'm not going to. I'm not going trot out the excuses used by supporters of Leigh and Lancaster either and claim that we didn't want to win it anyway because we're focussed on other, more important cup games.

Instead I'm going to be honest and admit that I'm as disappointed by the defeat but not for the reason you may think. It's nothing to do with the fact that we lost or that we didn't give a good account of ourselves (because we did). No, it's the fact the 14 match unbeaten run Mossley went into the game on the back of ended in such a particularly harsh way: a goal deep into injury time putting Halifax in front for the first time in a match that was pretty evenly fought.

But who are we to complain about those types of goals, seeing as we've benefited from so many late to last minute ones over the past month or so? If anything it shows that if there is someone that controls fate, he or she does a very good line in irony.

The match started well for Mossley with them doing most, if not all, of the early pressing. The two Steve's - Moore and Settle - as well as Nathan Neequaye all having a chance each to make the Lilywhites opening to the game a great one rather than a good one.

The visitors persistence was rewarded though in the 21st minute when Graham Kay headed Karl Brown's corner towards a crowded goal and thanks to a bizarre series of deflections off a multitude of different body parts, the ball eventually crossed the line to give Mossley a deserved lead.

It was a lead too that didn't appear to be in any danger, such was the lack of threat from Halifax but as half-time approached the home side rather fortuitously found themselves back in the game. A rare piece of untidy defending on the night allowed Mark Peers to find space and take a shot at goal. His effort was a poor one and appeared to be heading into touch until it took an enormous deflection off the back of Graham Kay, sending the ball flying past a wrong footed Peter Collinge and into the net.

The equaliser seemed to rock Mossley a little and the half ended with Town enjoying their first sustained spell of pressure in the game. It was one that would have seen them enter the interval in front too if it hadn't been for a point blank save from Collinge and an immaculately timed goal line tackle from Tom Spearitt.

What followed after the break was a much more even contest with both sides taking it in turns to put their opponents goal under pressure. James Dean and Peers had a couple of opportunities each to edge Halifax ahead, while at the other end of the pitch some inaccurate shooting was hampering Mossley's hopes of doing something similar.

The best chance though did fall Mossley's way. It came when the ball spilled out to the feet of Matty Kay after the Town keeper and a defender had clattered into one another in an attempt to break up an attack. His shot however was blocked by the head of Mark Hotte as he picked himself slowly (and I mean 'raising the Mary Rose off the sea bed' slowly) off the ground following the collision with his team mate. An unintentional block too judging by his surprised reaction after the ball had bounced off his bonce to safety.

And then came the final twist to proceedings. With the game in injury time and and an extra thirty minutes looking a distinct and unwelcome possibility, Halifax won a corner. The initial effort resulting from the inswinging cross was cleared off the line by Sam Walker. The ball though fell kindly for Dean who sent it back towards goal and for the third time on the night a deflection helped a shot reach the back of its intended target.

As I said earlier though the result was harsh on Mossley. Then again if it had been the other way round and it was Steve Moore scoring a 92nd minute winner rather than James Dean the result would have been unfair on Halifax too. But then again, are there ever any winners in this particular competition?

We knew the unbeaten run had to come to an end sooner or later as all good things tend to do but there's a modicum of comfort to be had in that it didn't end with a whimper. It actually finished with us busting a gut to make it 15 in a row in an eminently pointless competition and for that reason the team should be applauded.

Goodbye to the President's Cup then. At least until we reacquaint ourselves with it again next year. I for one can't wait!

Sorry! Actually I can.

Rossendale United 1 - 2 Mossley

Thirteen became fourteen on the fourteenth of the eleventh month for Mossley as the Lilywhites extended current unbeaten run by one more game. The latest notch on the pole coming at the expense of bottom of the table Rossendale United.

Realistically though we should still be sitting on the business end of a thirteen game streak as this latest instalment in Mossley's season should never have a took place. Instead of the numbers one and two accompanying the team names in the title of this post there should really be a couple of p's because if ever there was a game that deserved to be postponed it was this one.

Torrential rain in the hours leading up to kick-off had left the Dark Lane pitch resembling one more suited to growing rice on than playing football but to many people's astonishment the referee still deemed it to be playable. So, with a sizeable percentage of the playing surface under water, the match kicked off from the large pool where the centre spot should have been.

Unsurprisingly the match was more akin to a kick around on the beach as the tide came in than a game of football. It was in these farcical conditions though that Mossley took a sixth minute lead. Steve Settle was tripped as he cut into the box from the right wing, which gave Steve Moore the opportunity to score his ninth goal for the club from the penalty spot.

Even at this early stage of the game it was a goal that had seemed somehow inevitable as the Lilywhites got to grips with the puddles and ponds a lot faster than their hosts. Despite dominating proceedings though they couldn't turn the large amounts of possession they enjoyed into meaningful
efforts on Bob Harris's goal.

As the game wore on, and the waters began to recede a little, Rossendale started to create a few chances themselves. Even so, their equaliser in the 20th minute still came as something of a shock. A cross from the right appeared to be harmless but a lapse in concentration allowed Josh Mitten squeeze between a defender and the goalkeeper to turn it into the net.

The goal turned out to be the last moment of note in the half and things didn't improve much after the break as the heavy pitch began to take its toll on the players; both goalkeepers turning into peripheral figures as the match literally became bogged down in a turgid midfield battle.

Barring a moment of quality in a game where the conditions almost ensured none was possible, it looked increasingly like Mossley would be registering their third successive one-all draw in the league. Thankfully that one spark of excellence did arrive and, even more thankfully, the Lilywhites were the instigators and the beneficiaries of it.

In the 69th minute substitute Michael Fish released Settle down the right and his first time cross landed perfectly at the feet of the inrushing Moore. The forward was denied his second goal of the game by an excellent save from Harris but Matty Kay followed up to tap the rebound across the line and put Mossley in front once more.

If you want to see the goal, just click on the image on the left and you'll be able to watch it in glorious stutter-vision.

With the match nearing its end, driving wind and rain began to lash Dark Lane again and it was in this squally environment that the Stag's launched one last concerted effort to get something from the game. The Mossley defence though stood firm on a pitch that had long since lost those characteristics and they confined the home side to just one chance in injury time. Danny Ellis tried lobbing Peter Collinge from 35 yards but his admirable effort dropped a couple of feet wide of the goal.

It was a game that won't be remembered fondly - if at all, but it's one that puts a bit more distance between Mossley and the foot of the division as they head into a busy fortnight of cup fixtures.

At this point I'd normally add a bit more detail about the performance. In using words such as 'battling', 'spirited' and various other synonyms for 'gutsy' though I'd only be repeating what I've written in the past few reports. So to save you from re-reading the same stuff (and me from re-writing it) I'm just going to end the report here.

On second thought's I'll end it... here!

Mossley vs Brackley: In Motion

I know it's ten days since the match took place but circumstances have meant that it's only until now that I've had the chance to compile the footage I took on the night together.

I had hoped to do something a bit different from the usual kind of highlights video I put on the site; something that would help convey the drama and excitement of the night. After three attempts though I realised there's nothing I could do with my limited skills and resources that would ever do justice to the 120 minutes of football that was played.

Admittedly it doesn't help when you failed to capture one of the most important goals due to camera problems, but even if I had that the video would still fall a long way short of carrying across the gamut of emotions experienced by the supporters on that very evening. What it will hopefully do though is jog a few memories that will bring a smile back to your lips.

Anyway, enough of the waffling and time for the watching. So turn the sound up, sit back and prepare to be vaguely disappointed at what you're about to see:

To view a higher quality version, follow this link and click the HQ button.

Before I end this little update a big thank you to Smiffy of Six Tame Sides for allowing me to use some of his photos from the night to help fill in the blanks.

Mossley 1 - 1 Wakefield

If I had a shiny new pound for every time I heard somebody mentioned the phrase "after the Lord Mayor's show" during the course of this game, I'd have left Seel Park on a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon at least, oh... £14 better off.

To be fair to the players in white shirts the chances of this particular ninety minutes of football ever coming close to matching the roller coaster of excitement experienced in the midweek fixture against Brackley were always going to be remote. But that didn't stop there being a anti-climactic feeling hanging in the cold, damp air.

The match started brightly with both sides trading early chances. The visitors were the first to try their luck when Chris Howarth's run across the edge of the Mossley box resulted in a shot that curled just over Peter Collinge's goal. This was followed moments later at the opposite end of the pitch by a Wakefield defender scooping a free-kick from Sam Walker off the goal line.

After this action heavy opening the game quickly settled into a pattern: Mossley pressing hard for a goal while Wakefield looked to hit their hosts on the break. And in the 44th minute it was a game plan that bore fruit for one team. Sadly though that team wasn't the Lilywhites.

An overly ambitious pass brought a promising Mossley attack to a sudden end and Wakefield quickly countered. Exploiting gaps in the defence they eventually worked the ball to Jon Froggat who, despite the best efforts of Collinge, got just enough power on his shot to see it trickle over the line and put his side ahead.

It was a goal that came somewhat against the run of play too. While it wasn't a half littered with chances, what few there were after that end-to-end opening had all fallen to the home side; Walker saw another free-kick prevented from reaching its target by a finger tip save from Wakefield keeper Zolna, who also performed acrobatics to stop Steve Settle finding the net with a clever lob.

Their lead should have been a very short one though. Within seconds of the match restarting Settle had the opportunity to draw the home side level from close range but he skied his effort high over the cross bar.

Steve Settle in the midst of sending the ball high over the bar.

A rather sluggish start to the second half by Mossley allowed 'The Bears' to become the dominant side for the first time in the match and with it came numerous chances to sew the result up.

It was only after Wakefield spurned a glorious opportunity to double their lead though in the 67th minute - Howarth slicing the ball wide after a shot from Froggat had rebounded to him off the foot of the post - that Mossley stirred from their slumber and set about rescuing the game.

Zolna however was proving to be a troublesome thorn in the Lilywhites attempts at restoring equality to the score line but with seven minutes left he was finally beaten. A nudge in Steve Moore's back by Wes Milne sent the Mossley man tumbling to the ground in the box and the felled forward picked himself up to fire home the penalty he'd won.

Steve Moore is grounded by Milne for the penalty.

In the closing minutes of the game Moore had a goal correctly disallowed for offside and another effort that had Zolna scurrying across his line to stop, but the score remained unchanged as the final whistle brought proceedings to a close.

Both sides will probably have cause to argue it was two points lost rather than one won but taking the whole of the ninety minutes into account, the draw was possibly the fairest outcome.

What is it about home games with Wakefield? Is it compulsory that they all must be a shade dull and boring? Have we signed a contract in blood that forbids more than a modicum of entertainment and excitement taking place in Seel Park fixtures between the two sides? I only ask because for the third year running both sides produced a game that will not live long in the memory.

Admittedly this meeting made for a slightly more entertaining component to the unholy 'Wakefield' trinity but not by much.

As I said way back at the beginning of this post though, you can hardly fault Mossley for this. Considering what they've gone through in the past week (coupled with more bad weather and an even heavier playing surface) it's no surprise that they looked a touch jaded during this game. Heck, even the supporters still looked drained from the trials of the previous Tuesday night.

Goodness knows what Wakefield's excuse was however as apart from that 20 minute spell of pressure after the interval, and the goal just before it, they weren't exactly ripping up trees. Maybe they stopped up late on Friday watching fireworks?

Before I draw this posting to a close I think it's worth mentioning again the spirit Mossley have shown recently in not believing that a game is beyond saving. As previously mentioned in the aftermath of the Brackley game it's fantastic to finally see a Mossley team that doesn't know when its beaten; games last ninety minutes and we now have a side that plays for that long, plus whatever time is added on.

Anyway, there's a rare week off now which should hopefully give everyone chance to recharge their batteries ahead of a hectic, cup game filled end to the month and I don't know about you but I need it!

Mossley 3 - 1 Brackley Town

I'm going to start this report with an apology because what follows may prove to be disappointing.

Why? Because the simple fact of the matter is that I could spend from now until the day I finally breathe my last writing, re-writing and tweaking this report and still not come close to doing the game it's about any justice whatsoever.

The emotions experienced, the support, the team, the character and spirit shown and, not least of all, the game itself are all worthy of their own lengthy essays but in trying to combine the lot into one it's inevitable that I'm going miss something out or that it's going to become slightly rambling.

With this in mind, if you feel a noteworthy moment has been omitted please feel free to write about it in the comments section or, even better, add your thoughts on the match: the more the merrier in fact.

It was one of those the games, the kind like Lymington in '03 and Kendal in '05, that if you were there you're never going to forget. One where in a few years a time someone will say “Remember Brackley?” and you'll just nod and exchange smiles as the memories of what unfolded on the evening of the 3rd of November, 2009 coming hurtling back to the front of your thoughts.

I know it seems ridiculous to think of an FA Trophy 2nd qualifying round replay in such glowing terms but it's matches like this one that you live for as a football supporter; a game where you kick every ball with the players and experience every possible emotion as you barrel at full speed to one of two possible outcomes, hoping against hope that the ending you arrive at is the happy one.

In the run up to this game there was more than one or two supporters hoping for some inclement weather in the belief, misguided or not, that it would give Mossley some kind of advantage over their opponents and oh, did they get their wish. Torrential rain, strong winds, lightning, hail storms – and that was all in the the three hours prior to the match kicking off. By the time proceedings finally got under way only the rain remained, which while not great was preferable on its own than with the conditions that had accompanied it during late afternoon.

Added to the couple of days of near non-stop downpours we've had since the weekend, it's quite remarkable that this game actually took place at all. It certainly wouldn't have last season, or in many of the ones before that, but the work carried out on the pitch in the summer has certainly proved its worth.

So it was on a rain lashed Seel Park surface that Mossley came back from the brink of defeat for the second time in three days. Not only to take the game into extra-time but to set up a shock victory against their high flying, and reputedly high spending, visitors from the senior division of the Zamaretto League.

One goal down and with only seconds of regular time left on the clock, substitute Lee Blackshaw took advantage of the gap left by the right back who'd been shown his second yellow card moments earlier, to fire Steve Settle's low cross through a crowd of players and take what had been a thoroughly absorbing contest into extra time.

It was the very least Mossley merited too as it would be quite the understatement to say that Town's goal had led something of a charmed life over the course of the preceding eighty eight minutes. From the 7th minute onwards when Ben Richardson brought a smart save out of Richard Morris with a fierce long range drive, Mossley created a seemingly never ending series of openings but they could just not put the ball between the posts. Even when they had the opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot before the interval, top scorer Matty Kay found the back of the stand rather than the back of the net.

But as is so often the case it was the team which had barely had an attack of note that took the lead. During a rare scene of panic in the Mossley penalty area the ball hit the raised arm of a defender and unlike the home side, Brackley made no mistake with the opportunity awarded to them from the spot. Ben Mackey firing his shot low and hard past Peter Collinge.

To the Lilywhites immense credit though they refused to let their heads drop and over the remaining twenty minutes of the initial ninety the pressure they exerted continued to grow and grow. A last throw of the dice by manager Chris Willcock saw Mossley playing with five forwards and centre half Graham Kay acting as a makeshift sixth yet still the ball refused to go where they wanted it to.

When Steve Moore hit the post with minutes left it looked like it was going to be what's commonly referred to as “one of those nights” for the Lilywhites; a match full of what ifs. But with only the vapours of normal time remaining Settle played that ball across the box and the home side got their just reward, sending the clusters of home supporters gathered on the terraces into a frenzy. And I'm not ashamed to admit that as I bounced around like a man possessed there was the semblance of a tear in my eye brought about by a mixture of happiness and relief.

With bodies rapidly tiring through a combination of the games pace and the heaviness of the pitch, the man advantage Mossley held through Jon Brady's dismissal quickly began to tell in extra-time.

The sending off itself was avoidable yet somehow inevitable too. Booked very early on in the game for some silly comments directed towards the referee, it was surprising that further sarcastic barbs aimed at the official didn't earn Brackley's player manager a second yellow card. What eventually did though was a needless and rash challenge on the edge of his own box which, fortunately, only succeeded in injuring himself and it took some lengthy treatment to get him in a fit enough state to walk from the from the pitch with a red card in his wake.

Shots rained in on the Saints goal from all angles and in the 103rd minute of the game, one finally reached its intended target. A scramble instigated by a cross from the left by Danny Egan ended with Nathan Neequaye hammering the ball past Town's substitute keeper from close range and for the first time in the two games Mossley were ahead.

There was time for a couple of 'heart in mouth' moments as Brackley threw men forward in search of their own late, late equaliser. In doing so they left themselves susceptible to the counter attack and with a minute of the tie remaining, Neequaye was the beneficiary of one such breakaway; his second, and Mossley's third, goal of the night lighting the blue touch paper on more scenes of excited celebration on the terraces.

Nathan Neequaye celebrates putting the game beyond Brackley's reach with Steve Settle

The win was no more than Mossley deserved and stands as a testament to the incredible spirit they showed in refusing to let their heads drop when they went behind and time appeared to be their greatest opponent.

And speaking as a fan I've got to say that a 'it's not over till the final whistle' attitude from the players makes it a whole lot easier to support them. Words of encouragement flow from the tongue much faster and easier when it looks like the players care as much as you do about the outcome.

It certainly puts those weeks and months of 'going through the motions' we've seen during some parts of this decade into a stark contrast. Motion being quite an apt synonym to describe quite a few of those periods.

Both sides though deserve an enormous amount of praise for producing such an entertaining game of football in the adverse conditions it was played under. It's Mossley though - and deservedly so on the evidence of this 120 minute encounter - who'll be making the late November trip Ilkeston Town in search of further Trophy success.

Like I said way back at the beginning, what's written above will never stand as a fitting tribute to the efforts that went into claiming that place in the next round of the competition. What I hope though is that what's there will spark a few happy memories and they'll fill in those wonderful missing details.

In the coming days, though it's more likely to be next week, I'll hopefully have some video on this very blog to assist you in reliving the experience once again. For reasons however too long, too technical and too boring to go into, I sadly don't have any footage of that late equaliser. I do have our winning goals though so there's still something to watch that has the ability to make the hairs on your neck stand to attention.

Brackley Town 1 - 1 Mossley

In my mini-ramble on the eve of this game I said that a replay would be nice and, lo and behold, that's precisely what came to pass.

According to a couple of the eyewitness accounts I've heard we didn't play particularly well in Northamptonshire but the result is all that matters. One shot, one goal and whether it was eight minutes into injury time or not, it was enough to force our opponents into having to make an unenviable Tuesday night journey: a 180 mile trip via the M6 and M60, at rush hour, to what's expected to be a wind and rain battered Seel Park. Oh are they in for a shock!

Anyway, if you want to know more about the game there's the official Mossley report to look at as well as a Macbeth themed Brackley report.

As well as keeping our Trophy adventure going for at least another ninety minutes, Steve Moore's late, late strike also guarantees that we'll have a midweek game too. The fixture originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday against Woodley Sports looked to be in some doubt after the Stockport side had this weekend's game against Warrington postponed due to swine flu laying waste to most of their squad.

At least that's the claim as, according to today's Non-League Paper, there's been no medical diagnosis that it is in fact the illness. So unless the league management receive around fifteen doctors notes containing the words 'swine flu' and not 'man cold', some of the points they've accumulated could do a Curzon and disappear.

Still, it must be a pleasant change for Woodley though to be suffering from H1N1 than the D1L1 virus they've had for most of this season.

So can we get past Brackley at the second attempt or have we just delayed being dumped out of the Trophy by three days? Why not come to the game and find out for yourself? Seriously, it's only Holby City on the television so you won't be missing anything good.

The Support Back Home

As I won't be one of the not insignificant number of Mossley fans making their way down to Brackley tomorrow, I'd like to take this opportunity on the eve of the club's most important FA Trophy game for oh, two weeks at least, to offer my support to the players and management by saying...

And if it's at all possible, a replay on Tuesday would be nice. Naturally I'd like us to win the tie at the first time of asking but if there's a chance to put off going to Woodley Sports for a little while longer I'll happily settle for a rematch.

The Leigh Gene-gifs

Apologies for the punnery in the post title but it should give you a very big clue as to what this update to the blog contains.

Yes, once more Mossley80 is giving you the chance to view some goals from a recent Tuesday night cup victory in low quality owmyeyes-ovision (trademark not pending). This time though there's no audio - just the clips.

To view them all you have to do is click on any of the following four pictures and the goal pertaining to that link will open in a new tab or window. Simple as that! So without further ado:

Who knows? One day we might be allowed to show proper video footage again...

Mossley 4 - 0 Leigh Genesis

Saturday, 8th November 2003 at Clitheroe's Shawbridge ground.

I know that's a peculiar way to open a match report but it's an answer to a question that may be on the lips of a few people after this result. Whether those few people are actually reading this is another matter entirely but because a) I don't like anyone to feel left out and b) I was never a huge fan of the game show Jeopardy, I shall explain what that date and place allude to: it was the last time Mossley went ten games unbeaten.

Of course there's a reason why such a query is pertinent to the curious at this time and by now it should be obvious why. In case putting two and two together and getting four isn't your forte though, this victory over Leigh was Mossley's tenth game in a row unbeaten.

The club formerly known as Horwich R.M.I. will no doubt point out that they fielded a much changed and weakened side from the one that we faced at the weekend (a popular excuse for teams that lose cup games these days, along with 'unimportant' competition) but as the saying goes, you can only beat what's in front of you and Mossley did it quite comfortably. Eventually.

Three days earlier the two teams had played to a rather drab stalemate in a league game and, for the most part, the opening half hour to this encounter was a continuation of what had transpired at the Leigh Sports Village.

Attempts at breaking the deadlock were limited to some few and far between half chances: Chris Baguley wasted a couple for Genesis while the ones that fell to Steve's Settle and Moore proved similarly unsuccessful for the home side.

Even though a third of the game had barely transpired the unwelcome possibility of there being extra-time already seemed a very real one. Thankfully though a goal from out of the blue by Steve Moore not only lessened the prospects of an additional thirty minutes but finally injected some life into a decidedly low key contest.

In the interests of providing some balance to this report I should point out that the opening goal was scored from a very, very offside position. As I have no interest in being non-partisan though, it was a perfectly good, legitimate goal!

The Lilywhites would have gone in at the break two goals to the good had Sam Walker lowered his sights by a millimetre or two before crashing a shot off the crossbar but considering how spectacularly quotidian the half had been, the fact one goal had been scored was more than enough to heighten the spirits of those with a Mossley-centric view on proceedings.

The previous two meetings between the sides this season had both ended in one-all draws but – thankfully - the chance of history repeating itself for a third time was quashed almost immediately after the interval; Matty Kay getting the faintest of touches on Ben Richardson's deflected cross to direct it beyond Dean Porter and double Mossley's lead.

Richardson played an instrumental part in the Lilywhites third and fourth goals as well... come to think of it, he set up the first goal too! A powerful run into the box and a simple square pass gave Moore the opportunity to notch his second of the night, and if it hadn't been for a good save from Porter, Richardson could have claimed Mossley's fourth for himself. However the Leigh keeper could only parry the wing-back's thunderous thirty yard effort into the path of some inrushing white shirts and the loose ball was guided over the goal line by Matty Kay.

Hopefully at some point over the next day or so I'll be able to upload some low quality clips of the goals to the blog. The operative word in that previous sentence being 'hopefully'. If not this week though they'll be online next.

Further chances came and went for Mossley to add to their total but the fact none were converted doesn't detract from what was a comfortable win against good opposition and an ideal confidence booster ahead of Saturday's trip to Brackley in the FA Trophy.

I mean a tenth game in a row unbeaten, four goals scored for the third successive Tuesday, further progress in another cup competition and the phrase “bandy legged n*b” became the insult du jour... how can than not raise the spirit a little for what may be around the corner?

Anyway Mossley's reward for turning over Leigh is a late November evening trip to Lancaster. Oh. Joy.

Leigh Genesis 1 - 1 Mossley

This was one of those matches that certain clich├ęs were invented for so if you don't mind I'd like to get the more obvious ones out of the way as early as possible:

  • If someone said before the match we'd get a draw we'd have been happy.
  • It was hard at times to tell which side had been reduced to ten men.
  • A draw snatched from the jaws of victory.
  • Not a point won but two lost

You know those times when watching Mossley makes you so frustrated? Well this was one of them. Everything seems to be going well and then, out of the blue, we do something silly and a seemingly nailed on victory disappears to the sound of hands slapping against foreheads in disbelief.

Just over a month ago both sides had played out a rather mundane draw in the corresponding fixture at Seel Park and this meeting, for the most part, gave no indication of being any different.

In terms of shots and goalmouth incidents there was precious little to entertain Leigh's largest crowd of the season for long stretches of the opening period. Peter Collinge was forced into making a good save to stop Jamie Baguley giving the home side the lead from a free kick and, at the opposite end of the pitch, a series of corners had the Leigh goalkeeper, Stephen Drench, flapping around the box like a man trying to rid himself of a particularly bothersome fly.

Graham Kay almost benefited from one of Drench's many handling errors during this brief moment of excitement when he looped a header onto the crossbar but in the course of forty four minutes there was only one real talking point.

It took place midway through the half when Nick Allen was kicked in the head by Andy Heald after the Mossley midfielder had tackled him cleanly on the edge of the box. The referee saw the petulant and dangerous lash at the prone Allen and immediately showed the Leigh player a red card, though it did take him a while to leave the pitch as he dragged out his “Why me? I did nothing!” routine to an unimpressed audience.

Happily a second topic for half-time discussion arrived in the forty fifth minute. One of the few, and oh do I mean few, passages of good football in the match saw Sam Walker, Matty Kay and Karl Brown combine to move the ball across the pitch and into the path of Ben Richardson who was charging into the penalty area. Without breaking his stride the Mossley wing-back launched a venomous shot across Drench and into the roof of the net before embarking on a mazy, celebratory run.

It was a superb goal and I'd love to be able to show you video, or even one of those stuttering animated gifs, of it but I can't. Why? Because I was banned from taking photos.

That's right. You can drink alcohol sat in the stands at Leigh while the game is going on, you can video the game on your mobile but woe betide anyone taking snaps with a small compact camera from the tiny section of the ground everyone has been corralled into.

Actually that's not quite true and the whole thing wouldn't have irritated me quite so much if it wasn't for this - the fact that people in the block of seats next to me people were using them without censure. One rule for visiting fans I suppose, another for home supporters with their families. There's really nothing like an unevenly administered ruling to raise the hackles is there?

I'm not having a go at Leigh Genesis here but their landlords, Leigh Sports Village who are the ones who've put this ruling in place.

Anyway, mini-rant over and back to the game.

With the home side confined to nothing but the occasional effort from long distance and the visitors struggling to make their extra man count, the game in the early stages of the second half looked to be over and that everyone was simply passing the time until the final whistle sounded. At least it did until Mossley brought out the blunderbuss, took aim at their own foot and began firing wildly.

A minute before the hour mark, and under no pressure at all, the Lilywhites effortlessly gave the ball away thirty yards from their own goal and ten seconds later it was in the back of their net. Collinge had done remarkably well to keep the initial shot out from Tom Ince but Chris Thompson reacted quickly to bundle the ball over the line.

If anything good came of the equaliser from a Mossley perspective it was that it finally appeared to inject a spark of life into them. Suddenly there was a bit more urgency to their play but even with the advantage in numbers they failed to create as many opportunities as they should have done. It would be nice to report that Leigh were hanging on with ten men but they weren't; it was altogether more comfortable for them than it should have been,

The two good openings the Lilywhites did work came within sixty seconds each other as the end of the game loomed. The first chance brought a great save out of Drench to deny Richardson what would have been a near perfect copy of his goal in the first half, while the second saw Nathan Neequaye hammer a shot against the post from close range.

Plenty of bluster was shown in the final few minutes from both sides but a match winning goal never materialised or even looked like doing, leaving Mossley to rue the lapse in concentration which turned three points into one.

Should we be happy with a point away to a team currently residing in the top six? Or should we be upset at only managing a draw against a side who played for seventy minutes with ten men and barely mounted any meaningful attacks?

From my own personal point of view it's the second reason which, while some of you may feel harsh, does at least show we're making progress. How so? Well who'd have thought we'd be coming away from the home of a side chasing promotion despairing at our failure to win? Not me for one and that fills me with a lot of hope for what may be to come.

I am left though with one question niggling away at the back of my mind and one you may be able to help me with. Despite all the managers and players that come and go at Mossley, why do we always struggle against ten men?

That's stumped you hasn't it? Suddenly finding an answer to the meaning of life seems simple in comparison doesn't it?

Hopefully the third meeting between the sides this season on Tuesday in the League Cup will provide something other than the rather staid 1-1 draws the two previous encounters have produced. And no, I'm not holding my breath either.

Mossley 4 - 0 Maine Road

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that there aren't many differences between this report and the official one I've done which appears elsewhere. There are two reasons for this. First of all I'm feeling particularly lazy today and secondly... actually, I'm feeling so lazy I can't be bothered coming up with a second reason.

I did have one, something to do with there being video in the report, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. Never mind, I'm pretty sure it wasn't that important.

And speaking of unimportant things, it's that time of the year again when the Manchester Premier Cup invades the fixture lists to the collective sound of “meh” from clubs and supporters; the levels of interest in embarking on the 'Road to Boundary Park' being so low that there isn't a device accurate enough to measure something so small yet. Finding the Higgs-Boson particle is as easy as picking your nose compared to discovering any enthusiasm people have for the MPC.

But we shouldn't get too snobby. After all it's a cup and when you're starved of having had something shiny and silver to polish in recent years, any is as good as the rest and Mossley moved a tiny step nearer to possibly laying claims to this one: four unanswered goals being more than enough to give them safe passage through to the next round.

The saying goes in football that the sign of a good team is one that wins when not playing up to the standards they themselves have set and this is certainly true to some extent of Mossley in the first forty minutes or so of this game.

They weren't playing badly, in fact they enjoyed plenty of the ball but it was their Vodkat League opponents who continually looked the more likely to do something constructive with it during their spells in possession. And by the time the Lilywhites had managed their first shot on target in the 39th minute the visitors could, and some may say should, have been two goals in front.

A one handed save at full stretch from Peter Collinge stopped Steve Cheetham putting Maine Road ahead in the 22nd minute, but the keeper could only stand and watch as Danny Self wasted his sides best opportunity five minutes later; the ex-Mossley winger, unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, glancing a weak header wide of the upright.

But then came that first shot from the home side and with the assistance of a bit of luck, the lead too. Whether Matty Kay's strike would have found the back of the net had it not been for a wicked deflection off a defender is debatable but no-one could begrudge him claiming it as his tenth goal of the season.

A clearance off the line stopped Maine Road levelling the game just before the interval but a more determined and sharper looking Mossley side emerged from the dressing room after the break – no doubt with a bit of a ticking off ringing in their ears. And within three minutes of the restart they'd done enough to seal the win.

Like the first goal, the second of the night got a final touch off a Blues defender before crossing the line too. This time however its status as an own goal was unquestionable. Under pressure from Steve Moore, Lee McGregor's attempts to deal with a cross ended with him shinning the ball powerfully past his own keeper from twelve yards and into the top right hand corner of the net. A little over sixty seconds later two became three when Andy Watson headed home Karl Brown's inswinging corner to register his first goal for the club.

Over the remainder of the match Mossley continued to press forward in search of more goals and such was their dominance there could have easily doubled their final total. They were only able to add one more though; Nathan Neequaye guiding home fellow substitute Lee Blackshaw's cross four minutes from time.

In the end the score line may be a touch harsh on Maine Road given their first half performance. But it's also one that's hard to argue the Lilywhites didn't deserve after a commanding second half display that ensured their unbeaten run stretched to eight games.

The result may be a touch harsh on Maine Road but it's one that a testament to Mossley's recent improved form; emphatically winning a game that not so long ago they would probably have stumbled to defeat in.

Anyway, I mentioned video way back at the beginning of the post and here it is. It's slightly different to the other clips I've posted over the last year as they aren't highlights – just the goals. So what you lose in action is more than made up for by the fact it's short and consists only of good things.*

Can we keep this splendiferous run of form going when we resume league duties on Saturday at Leigh? Who knows but fingers crossed, eh?

* I was tempted to add a comment here 'saying just like me!' but I'm far too modest...

Spalding United 1 - 3 Mossley

Good news everyone! This seasons trip to Skelemersdale's state of the art (a) ground has been delayed for a little while longer.

The reason as to why being even better news - that on the day we were due to make the journey along the M58 to that miserable hole on the edge of an industrial estate, we'll instead be playing in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.

That we are is thanks to two goals from Matty Kay and one from Steve Settle which were enough overcome the threat posed by our Unibond First Division South opponents, Spalding United. And I'm afraid that that's the sum of my knowledge about Mossley's victory in deepest, darkest, tulipy Lincolnshire. If you wish to know more than I suggest looking here as it's likely to be the only place where you'll find a proper run down of events.

The one 'live report' I did hear was that it wasn't a very good game. But when you haven't made a five hour round trip to watch it like me you don't really care as long as the result is a great one - and that it was.

What was I doing while Mossley were apparently easing to a comfortable victory 120 or so miles thataway? Well I was watching Role Models before turning to Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports and coming to the conclusion that it may be one of the worst programmes on television.

I know this is a view that's tantamount to heresy in the world of football (and it's something I may go into at greater length someday) but take Jeff Stelling out of the equation and what you're left with is drama school histrionics from people who can barely string coherent two sentences together. Or one sentence in the case of Paul Merson.

Anyway, next up for the Lilywhites and, all being well, this blog is the midweek Manchester Premier Cup game against Maine Road; the chance to put those dreams of a day out at Wembley aside and fantasise about the possibility a cold night out in May again at Boundary Park.

Goals. Juddering, Stuttering Goals

As promised a little over 24 hours ago, the goals from the Lancaster City match presented in glorious 256 colour, 8-bit jerky-o-vision.

To view them just click on the images and the footage will open in a new tab (or a new window if you're still mad enough to be using Internet Explorer 6). There's also audio that accompanies the clips and instructions on how to the marry the two will be beneath the animations.

So enjoy. If you can...

I know its a ridiculous way of showing the goals but that's ridiculous Unibond League rules for you.