Woodley Sports 1 - 0 Warrington Town

I'd like to bring you an in-depth report on a fantastic match I watched last night at Lambeth Grove between Woodley Sports and Warrington Town.

I'd like to but I can't. You see the match was woeful. Really, truly, unbelievably woeful. If ever a game deserved to finish 0 - 0, it was this one.

No, scratch that - it didn't desevre to finish. What should have happened was the referee to abandon it at half-time and force the players and management of both sides to apologise personally to everyone who'd paid to watch. It wouldn't have taken long either as there were only 93 souls there. A marked improvement on the 59 we'd counted midway through the opening period.

Yes things were that bad we were counting the crowd.

The first ten minutes of the game suggested that we wouldn't regret for a second the choice we'd made in paying £7 to stand in the rain on a cold, Tuesday night. It was almost exciting as the Warrington number seven pumped in cross after cross towards a Kenwyne Jones look-alike but, sadly for Town, not a skills-alike. More a Can'twin a header Jones.

You know, with gags like that I can't understand why this blog is only getting a few hits a day.

After those first 600 seconds or so though it was downhill faster than Franz Klammer on greased up rocket powered skis in an avalanche.

The most notable incident in a coma inducing first half was Gavin Salmon hooking a goal bound shot off the line. Sadly for him it was the goal he was supposed be trying to score in.

Warrington hit the woodwork twice in the second period during a passage of play that threatened to raise the interest level to 'mildly moderate' before Woodley scored a less than deserved winner from close range with fourteen minutes left.

Even a punch-up in the last five minutes was a half-hearted affair with the faux machismo being exhibited punctured by one player with a high pitch voice declaring "He kicked me first Ref!"

The scuffle, just before it breaks up in order for the protagonists to reapply their make-up and untangle their handbags.

So that's that. Possibly the worst match I've seen this season and something I never thought I'd be saying again after the Curzon - Lancaster game back in August.

Mossley80: Going to places so that you can be thankful you didn't.

Mossley 0 - 1 Skelmersdale United

Home may be where the heart is but it definitely isn't where the points are for Mossley.

While performances away from home have generally been impressive this season, their home form has been a touch more enigmatic. It's hard to put a finger on as to why this is the case but certainly conceding goals in the manner in which they did in this game certainly doesn't help.

It's been said by a few people this season that Mossley don't concede good goals, only poor ones and this one only adds weight to that argument.

With a little over twenty minutes left, what was nothing more than a hopeful punt from deep within the Skelmerdale half caught Mossley's defence at sixes and sevens and substitute Chris Almond, who'd only been on the pitch a matter of minutes, took full advantage of the space afforded to him to slip the ball under Andy Robertson.

To make matters worse for Mossley it turned out to be the only goal in what was otherwise a very tight game and one in which both sides had spent the majority of it cancelling each other out.

Having said that things did look a trifle ominous for the home side in the opening ten minutes of the fixture; a period of time in which they were almost exclusively confined to their own half. Fortunately their defending was solid and Skelmersdale's highly rated attack were restricted to nothing more than the occasional overly optimistic effort from distance.

After weathering the early storm Mossley started to come into the game more and by the midway point the roles were reversed with Skelmersdale being forced to defend deep. Like their opponents though the Lilywhites were making little headway in converting that possession into an advantage on the score sheet as a combination of a well drilled defence and poor deliveries from the wings and set pieces brought some promising moves to a premature end.

As half-time neared both sides attacks managed to start finding a few cracks in their opponents back lines and after Robertson had been forced into making a fingertip save from Sean McConville, the home side went close when Danny Egan hit the foot of the post, Graham Kay flashed a header narrowly wide of the same upright following a corner and keeper Ryan McMahon made hard work of Reece Kelly's twenty yard daisy cutter.

The second period if anything was even tighter. Chances, even half ones, were non-existent as both sides effectively cancelled one another out and the longer the game wore on, the more it looked like both sides would play out a goalless stalemate. But then came that momentary lapse in the 69th minute and it was effectively game over the Lilywhites.

It shouldn't have been as with almost a quarter of the match left there was still plenty of time for Mossley to rescue at least a point, but by dropping their passing game and resorting to the long ball down the centre of the pitch, the Lilywhites played straight to Skelmersdale's defensive strengths.

It was a decision that was as baffling as it was irritating to watch as Mossley continually surrendered possession using a tactic that not only failed to utilise any of our many strong points, but proved fruitless in recent games against opponents of a similar high quality to Skelmersdale.

So instead of McMahon being forced to endure a torrid time in the closing stages as the Lilywhites went in search of an equaliser, the United goalkeeper was effectively a spectator as his defence soaked up the succession of balls being dropped into them.

The visitors were denied the opportunity to register what would have been a very flattering scoreline when the referee waved away their appeals for a penalty as the end of the game neared. Its non-awarding can possibly be put down to Skelmersdale having 'cried wolf' far too often in the game.

Before the game there was some of the discussion on the terraces as to whether we'd see the 'Lawson gambit' again. This for those who don't know what it is dates from Skem manager Tommy Lawson's time as boss at Prescot when they employed a tactic that saw a Cables player scream and fall to the ground claiming to be injured every time they lost the ball. Not only was it irritating it was poor incredibly poor gamesmanship too and befitting of a team that was frankly good enough not to have to resort to it. And lo and behold it made a return in this game too.

Fortunately, despite the other criticisms that can be levelled against him, the referee for the most part refused to be taken in by these dubious shenanigans. The main perpetrator was full back Shaun Foster who spent most of the match falling over and holding his leg, even when it was blindingly obvious that no contact had taken place. His third attempt at claiming something untoward had gone on finally invoked a talking to from the match official and his fourth should have earned him a belated yellow card.

A rare moment caught on camera: Foster in an upright position

He wasn't the only one at it either. In the closing minutes midfielder Adam Birchall had the ball taken off him by Chris Hirst and as the Mossley player pulled away the Skem number eight collapsed to the ground and rolled around while claiming he'd been intentionally stood on. This was followed by a scream, the kind of which probably hasn't been heard since Torquemada and his employees were forced to down tools. The referee rightly waved play on and without any hint of embarrassment Birchall immediately got up and was running about without even the good grace to feign a limp. Hardly surprising that the shout of 'cheat' echoed round the terraces so often during the course of the match from the home supporters.

This isn't sour grapes. We gave it a good go but we lost the game. It's just that while Skelmersdale are undoubtedly a good side (centre half Michael White was possibly the best player on the pitch) their spirit of the game betraying theatrics are appalling and, just as they were for Prescot in the NWCL, completely unnecessary.

But what of Mossley? Skelmersdale's much vaunted forward line were made to look like shot shy amateurs and considering we'd been forced into making changes to what had been a relatively settled line-up thanks to the bruising encounter at Maine Road in midweek, we looked incredibly comfortable against one of the form teams in the league.

Like figure skating though all it needs to ruin everything is a single slip and that's what cost us this game – that brief and sole error which allowed Almond to nip in and settle the game. The problem for Mossley however is that while other teams are pouncing on the one or two mistakes we make, we're letting them get away with theirs, particularly at home and until that situation is rectified 'unlucky' is going to be the one word report for the foreseeable future.

January was always going to be a tough month at Seel Park for the Lilywhites with the fixture list throwing them up against Curzon, Lancaster and Skelmersdale in quick succession. And the points tally from these games, one from a possible nine, would appear to bear this out.

The underlying story though is that Mossley's performances in all three games were worthy of more than the single point they attained. However their inability to capitalise on the moments in games when they were on top leaves them having to wait until February at the earliest before they can finally register their first home win in any competition since October.

Oh well. At least there's some small comfort in the fact that it's ever anything but dull at Seel Park.

Maine Road 2 - 4 Mossley

Last time out I promised a smaller match report and here it is.

Thank goodness I decided to keep my word too because If I was to describe every incident that happened in the game it would, if printed, have to be bound into at least three, shelf sagging volumes.

Therefore if you want to know more about the Jimmy the full back who almost had his name worn out, the frankly terrifying Maine Road number eight, some supporters having to watch two hours of football sober, heart in the mouth moments of sanity shredding passages of play, some very good football and enough wood and 69 jokes to last you five lifetimes – you should have gone.

I can give you the next best thing though - highlights (or the bits that weren't obstructed by the linesman's head) of the match, which are at the end of this post. Before that though, the bit you're going to skip in order to get to them.

Mossley's participation in the Manchester Premier Cup will last for at least another ninety minutes after they survived the kind of late twist that cup upsets are built on, to edge themselves past North West Counties League side Maine Road.

With eighty minutes of what had been a pretty entertaining, and sometimes rough, contest gone, the Lilywhites passage into the semi-finals of the Manchester Premier Cup looked be virtually guaranteed. Although two goals up thanks to first half strikes from Nick Boothby and a venomous thirty yard free-kick from Danny Dignan, the margin between the two sides was greater than the score line suggested.

For the third game running Mossley were creating an abundance of chances but struggling to put them away. Unlike against Curzon and Lancaster though where you felt such profligacy would be punished, there appeared to be no danger Maine Road pegging the lead back. It was a view that was reinforced when Maine Road were made to play out the final ten minutes of the match a man short after Brocklehurst was shown a straight red card for throwing a punch at Mossley full-back Alex Mortimer.

However nothing is simple in the world of Mossley AFC.

Bizarrely the dismissal seemed to trouble Mossley more than the team now at a numerical disadvantage. The Lilywhites play suddenly became ragged, composure was replaced by panic and Maine Road quickly began to exploit it. First to capitalise was Rothel with a smart chip over Andy Robertson before Struminski levelled the game with just ninety seconds remaining.

As expected the additional thirty minutes began with the North West Counties League side in the ascendency and the visitors more than a little shell shocked after the events in the closing stages of normal time. Over the course of the opening period of extra-time though the Lilywhites equanimity slowly returned and the extra man finally began to count as the impetus was wrestled away from their opponents.

Putting the ball into the back of the net however was again proving to be a problem and with every chance that flew just wide or into the keepers arms, the threat of a penalty shoot out loomed larger and larger.

Much to the relief of the majority of people stood inside the Brantingham Road ground that particular danger was averted in the 109th minute of the game. Picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box as support in a counter attack, Boothby notched his second of the evening by drilling the ball under keeper Jones. And the two goal cushion they'd held a little over half an hour earlier was restored when Dignan doubled his tally with a powerful shot from an acute angle.

Thankfully this time there was to be no miraculous comeback from Maine Road and confirmation of Mossley's place in the last four was signalled by both the final whistle and an even louder sigh of relief from many of the visitors to South Manchester.

It's impossible to deny that the game was closer than it should have been. There we were skipping merrily to a comfortable 2-0 victory and suddenly hell was unleashed. Particularly on the terraces where it was suffixed to a whole host of words my Catholic upbringing prevents me from repeating.

Some words I can use though to describe Mossley's performance are great, troubling, eccentric, unlucky... to be honest, such was the topsy turvy nature of their display that I doubt there's any adjective in the English language that couldn't be applied.

Still, the result is always the most important thing in a game of football and in the end it's the positive one we wanted. Along with the added bonus of another NWCL banana skin just about avoided.

So here we are at the highlights which include the Diggler Detonator (if you can come up with a better alliterative name for it, please let me know), some lots of very near misses, a red card (not the tackle but the red card) and a penalty claim that wouldn't fool Stevie Wonder if he had his eyes shut.

I hope you enjoy it. It'll have meant that the last three hours of my life weren't wasted:

And over the course of the next 24 hours or so there should be better quality version here.

In Your Head. Or Rather Mine...

Monday's are bad. Always have been, always will be.

Monday today was made even worse by having one of those mornings where you wake up with a song in your head and you can't get rid of it. And to make matters worse it wasn't just one song - it was a few, all operating in shuffle mode.

Now I'm not complaining because they were bad songs. They were actually ones I quite like but it's hard not to grow tired of them when they've been on a loop in your brain for over twelve hours. The songs in question are 'One Week' by the Bare Naked Ladies and the soundtrack to South Park: The Movie. Goodness why my subconscious chose these, I can't see any discernible link over than a vague Canadian one, but its selection has driven me mad all day.

At 7:30am while collating some stuff for the council I was humming aloud to Terence & Philip's 'Uncle F**ka' (thankfully I have the office to myself at that time of day). Three hours later I was punching numbers into the fax machine in time to the 'La Resistance' medley which I was merrily singing away to in my head.

After dinner, lunch if you're posh, when I should have been grappling with Office 2007 in an attempt finish a promotional leaflet, I was too busy internally debating whether the opening line to the verse after the first chorus in 'One Week' was 'Chick-ity China' or Chicken to China'. All before traipsing home in a blizzard muttering them to myself once more.

I swear that if they're not gone by this time tomorrow I'll be a gibbering wreck at the Maine Road game.

And in case you're wondering what those songs sound like, and in the hope that by getting someone else to listen to them the curse will pass on, Ringu style, here you go:

Uncle F**ka (Be warned! As the title suggests it contains rude words. Lots of them)

La Resistance:

One Week:

And while looking around for the last clip I found this which seems apt for this blog posting:

Hopefully tomorrow sanity will have once again prevailed.

Mossley 1 - 1 Lancaster City

With mere seconds of 2008 left I resolved that in the coming new year my match reports would be shorter and more perfunctory because, being the slow writer that I am, they take me forever to do.

As you can see if you scroll down to the bottom of this report (go on, I'll wait here for a couple of minutes while you do), I wasted micro moments of my life coming up with and sticking to that particular resolution.

At face value the point taken from this game looks like a good one. Not only was it one that finally brought to an end a three match losing streak at Seel Park that stretches back over two and a half weather disrupted months, it was a point gained against a side currently second in the league and one of the favourites for promotion. The 'whole story' however is that the solitary point should have been three; the Lilywhites once again paying the price for not finishing off their opponents when they had them on the proverbial rack.

The afternoon got off to a perfect start for the home side when Danny Self prodded home a Lee Blackshaw free-kick at the back post in only the second minute. Over the course of the following thirty Mossley created enough opportunities to have won the game three times over as they virtually laid siege to their opponents goal.

Danny Self prods Mossley into an early lead

Unlike their previous game against Curzon though where shooting accuracy, or rather the lack of it, was to blame for Mossley failure to make their domination of proceedings count, this time round it seemed like fate was conspiring against the men in the white shirts.

Self saw a shot bounce of upright, the ball was twice cleared off the goal line, City keeper Beesley pulled of a series of unorthodox, some would say fortunate, saves and on more than one occasion the ball was prevented from crossing the line by sheer good fortune than good defending - goal bound shots striking players oblivious to what was going on and bouncing off to safety.

If it was a boxing match a good referee would have stopped the contest. Sadly this was a game of football and a good referee didn't appear to be anywhere within the vicinity.

For the second time in five days though Mossley were hit with a sucker punch. Just as Curzon had done five days earlier Lancaster scored against the run of play. Not only was it their first shot on target, it looked like it had been mis-hit too but Adam Airey's bobbling effort in the 35th minute had enough pace on it to beat the outstretched arm of Andy Robertson and give his side a decidedly unmerited equaliser.

That said it was an incredibly soft goal to concede and something that has been happening rather too much of late. I mean, when was the last time you saw a side score a really good goal against us? On the whole we're pretty solid at the back but these momentary lapses in concentration are costing us dearly.

To Mossley's credit it didn't seem to affect them in anyway and from the restart they continued to put their opponents under pressure and City's goal continued to lead a charmed life. None more so than when a crisply struck shot from Michael Fish cannoned off the foot of the post and rolled along the goal line before being cleared.

After an opening forty five minutes packed with incident there was no reason to expect that the remaining three quarters of an hour wouldn't be any different. But just as they'd done in the midweek derby, Mossley returned to the pitch for the second period looking a shadow of their first half selves. Again the vigour that had defined their performance in the previous half was replaced by one of lethargy and hurried, wayward passes.

Fortunately for the home side though Lancaster, unlike Curzon, had no apparent desire to use this turn of events to their advantage. Only once did their surprisingly rudimentary approach look like paying dividends. It came in the 53rd minute when a hopeful lob from distance bounced back off the crossbar and to the feet of Paul Haddow who'd been allowed to ghost unmarked into the area by the Mossley defence. With the goal at his mercy he delayed his shot long enough to allow Robertson to recover from the initial effort and make a good save.

They had a couple of other half chances but nothing like or even numbering the openings the Lilywhites had carved out when kicking towards the same goal.

It wasn't until the 69th minute when Danny Dignan became the third Mossley player to strike the post that the home side began to rediscover their drive and invention. By this late stage of the game however their path to goal was being blocked by a wall of yellow shirts as City packed out their defence. It was a wall though that should have been without a component part for the closing minutes of the match.

An inch perfect pass from Chris Hirst put Danny Egan clean through on goal with only the keeper to beat. It was at this point though that he was upended by one of the most cynical challenges I've seen at Seel Park in many a year.

City centre half and captain Michael Stringfellow, with no chance of getting the ball himself, literally had to throw himself feet first at the Mossley forward to stop him getting his shot away (see picture below). It was three offences all worthy of a red card rolled into one. Not only did he deny a goal scoring opportunity (red card #1), it was a professional foul (red card #2) and both feet were off the ground - and high - as the 'tackle' was made (red card #3). The number of actual red cards shown though: none.

The challenge that the referee deemed in no way worthy of a card or a talking to.

Even as the body language of the Lancaster City players suggested they they were preparing to play out the final few minutes without a full compliment of players, the referee deemed the challenge not even worthy of a lecture. And in doing so reinforced the conclusions many supporters had come to about him since 3:00pm.

I've said it before in the past and I'll reiterate again here: referee's don't lose you games. What they can do however is make it a damn sight harder for you to win and the official in this game, who shall remain nameless because I don't want to give his ego a boost by the thought that I've actually bothered to look up who he was, sadly fell in that category.

Even ignoring his refusal to punish Lancaster with nothing more than a free-kick for the cynical foul in the closing moments, his refusal to punish them at any time in the match was staggering. Simon Wood was booked for three challenges on Lee Dodgson (only one of which was an actual foul) yet Northern Rail late challenges on Alex Mortimer and Danny Dignan in the second half didn't even have him contemplating putting the whistle to his lips.

Some of Stringfellow's earlier work leaves Dignan in a heap.

I hate criticising officials, and you'll have seen very little of it on this blog over the years, but at times they do themselves absolutely no favours at all.

Having seen Lancaster play already this season, albeit only once at Curzon Ashton, I said before the game that on the evidence of that match I couldn't understand how they were as highly positioned in the league as they were. Admittedly one game can give a false impression but I saw nothing different from them in this game to alter my opinion.

Unless I've had the misfortune to see City's two worst performances of the 08/09 campaign so far, how the thuddering funk are they at hovering around the top of the table? Along with Halifax, another team whose league position masks the fact they're nothing special, it makes you wonder about the quality of the division this year.

This isn't a criticism of Mossley. We're still a work in progress and it's a progress I'm not alone in being happy with, but where's the justice in good footballing sides such as us, Newcastle, Trafford, etc. occupying spots in mid-table and just outside they play-offs when unadventurous sides such as the “big guns” mentioned in the previous paragraph can bore and scuff their way to glory?

Deep breaths and calm...

Unlucky hardly seems the appropriate condolence to Mossley after this game but it is the only one that fits. I know that you're supposed to make your own luck in football but if that's the case Lancaster must filled with factories manufacturing the stuff for their team.

If we carry on playing as we are then it will only be a matter of time before one of our opponents leaves the pitch at the end of a match in a beleaguered fashion, having been on the receiving of a medieval beating. Scoreline wise and not in the Curzon sense of the term.

It's hard to fault the team after a game like this one but I'll give it a go. ;)

Actually there was very little to complain about and what there is just seems pickly. I've already mentioned conceding soft goals way, way up above this little paragraph but the long ball from front to back which was overused against Curzon also outstayed its welcome in this one.

Used sparingly it's a nice weapon to have in the armoury but it reached the point in this game where Lancaster knew what was coming and more often than not as the game wore it launched more attacks for them than it did for us.

Outside of those quibbles though I find myself a touch ebullient about the position we're now in. We're playing good football, there's strength in depth and while we're not winning matches we're certainly giving it a damn good go. And win or lose that's all you ask for as a supporter.

It's certainly a world away from this time two years ago when we were on a run of one win in fourteen, and the same stage last season when we were embarking on a run of one win in thirteen with tough game against Skelmersdale honing into view on the horizon.

Not everything changes though. Up next in the league for Mossley – a tough game against Skelmersdale.

And fingers crossed that by next week I'll have finally got round to acting upon my New Year's promises.

Mossley 0 - 2 Curzon Ashton

Football returned to Seel Park after a nine week weather enforced absence and with a bump rather than a bang as Mossley got 2009 off to a losing start.

Actually bump isn't the right word. Horrendously, late and tackles are three ones that seem awfully more appropriate.

There's no denying that when they put their mind to it Curzon Ashton are a good footballing side. Unfortunately, and as we had the misfortune to witness far too many times in this game and other recent encounters, it comes wrapped in a style of play that shouldn't be seen at any level of football, let alone this one.

The latter stages of the Boxing Day game were full of challenges that bordered on the downright dangerous (a tackle on Chris Hirst late in the second half that somehow went unpunished springs horrifically to mind) and sadly so was this one.

Even as I write this, over twelve hours after the match had finished, I still can't understand how Chris Curley managed to stay on the pitch after three awful challenges in the opening twenty minutes of the match. It was only when he'd left Danny Dignan in a heap after a challenge that would have been a straight red under normal circumstances that referee finally produced a yellow card from his pocket. But when was the last time we had an official referee a match against Curzon normally.

I'm not saying we're angels – we're more than capable of putting a hard challenge in every now and again but when was the last time you saw someone in a Mossley shirt produce a tackle like the one I've previously mentioned on the Dignan? Hardly six of one, half a dozen of the other.

No doubt somebody somewhere will at this point start moaning that the referee had to allow for the conditions but a late challenge on a wet pitch would still be a late one on a dry pitch. But when you have weak officials it doesn't really matter what the weather has been like - decisions will always be more baffling than correct.

Perhaps the truly saddest sight to see was Curzon's players start screaming in faux agony every time they lost the ball, be it through a tackle, a simple brush of the shoulders or over hitting hit. They may act like hard men but they appear to be as soft as bowl of microwaved puppy diarrhoea.

Unsurprisingly the early stages of the game were punctuated frequently by the sound of the referee's whistle, but despite the countless number of free-kicks awarded around their opponents box though, Mossley failed to punish the Ashton side for their numerous indiscretions.

And it was the same story in open play too. A lengthy series of promising moves by the Lilywhites ultimately amounted to nothing more than the Curzon keeper, David Carnell, breathing a sigh of relief as inrushing white shirts failed to make contact with the assortment of inviting crosses being played in from the wings.

It took a 38th minute effort from Danny Dignan to break the sequence and finally call Carnell into action; the custodian meeting the Mossley forwards superbly executed twenty five yard shot with a save of similar stature.

That moment looked like it was going to be the last one of note in the opening half until Curzon hit Mossley with a sucker punch a minute before the break. A simple ball up the centre of the pitch caught the Mossley defence cold and Alex Elliott held his nerve to slip his shot under Robertson and give the visitors the lead.

Nick Boothby almost sent Mossley into the interval on level terms when he poked his leg out at a loose ball following a corner, only to see it bounce off the cross bar with Carnell beaten. We might have been one down but as the teams trudged off the spongy pitch there was no reason at all to think why we couldn't not only draw level but win the game.

Sadly we were given one after the orange slices.

The second period began with Mossley on the pitch in body, but seemingly not in mind or spirit. Straight from the restart it was virtually one way traffic as the visitors repeatedly cut through the Lilywhites midfield and defence with ridiculous ease. Robertson managed to deny Elliott & Michael O'Connor with two good saves but he was only delaying the inevitable which duly arrived in the 64th minute. Failure to deal with a corner led to a goalmouth scramble which ended with Chris Curley (yes, him) scrambling the ball across the line.

The only positive aspect about the second goal from a Mossley perspective was that it appeared to rouse the Lilywhites from their mysterious slumber and coupled with a change in on-field personnel, they once again began to ask questions of their opponents.

Danny Self went close on two occasions to giving his side a way back into the game, as did Michael Fish who drew yet another stunning save out of Carnell. Further unsuccessful efforts followed from Christian Hirst and Graham Kay to name but two of the host of players who had a pot shot in the closing stages.

But just as Mossley might have rescued the game in its final quarter if they'd been a touch more accurate in front of goal, Curzon's own profligacy at the opposite end of the pitch prevented them from succumbing to an even heavier defeat, and handing their opponents an even more flattering scoreline, as the game became stretched before the final whistle.

There was still time though for another display of forehead slapping officiating when Fish looked to have beaten Carnell in the chase for a through ball only for the keeper to grab the ball outside his box and pull it in. Not being an offside or a throw-in, the linesman must have thought that drawing the referee's attention to this was beyond his remit and again Curzon went unpunished. Oh for a set of officials with a bit of steel in their nether regions the next time we meet the 'Ashton Moss Manglers'.

I've always said that I have no problem with defeats if it looks like we've given it a go. It's a position I haven't had reason to fall back on many times in recent seasons but in this game that statement applies.

That's not to say that there weren't some faults to pick at. Curzon's first goal was just one of those things that happens regularly in football, I've no problem with that. What was worrying was Mossley's non-appearance at the start of the second half. There were some white shirts on the pitch but they weren't doing an awful lot to stop the people in blue ones running past them. It's not the first time this season we've come out after the interval looking unfocused either. Then again it's not exactly something that's new to this season. Maybe switching the half-time tea bags to a brand loaded with caffeine would help...

The other blot on otherwise solid performance was the persistence with the long ball from Robertson to the two forwards at every available opportunity. I can understand why the tactic was employed but it went on for far too long after it was obvious it was a pursuit that wouldn't bear fruit.

Our better and more productive passages of play were coming through keeping the ball on the ground and running at their defence. Chris Hirst in particular had a field day on the wings when he had the ball at his feet, and on the occasions he wasn't being booted into air - yes, I'm looking at you Mr Goodeve - but he wasn't utilised as often as he should have been.

There were a few other niggles as well but in the whole. Apart from the result, I don't think anyone was truly unhappy with the performance. We got a lot more creative in our approach in the final third of the match and with a tad more accuracy to our shooting it would have paid dividends but, alas, it wasn't to be.

It may be a losing start to 2009 for Mossley but if they continue it in the manner that was in evidence for much of this game, disappointing score lines such as this one will be the exception rather than the rule. I hope!

And win, lose or draw it was just nice to finally see a game that didn't involve Woodley Sports.

Woodley Sports 2 - 0 Rossendale United

Day ten of 2009 comes and goes and Mossley are still yet to play a game in the new year.

Well that's not strictly true. After overnight temperatures once again plunged into the negative on the Celcius scale and rendered the pitch at Skelmersdale, Mossley's scheduled destination, unplayable, the Lilywhites took part in a hastily arranged friendly against Flixton at a sports centre somewhere in west Manchester.

However, as the friendly was announced a mere 42 minutes before its midday kick-off, watching it was not an option given that at the best of times it's easier to reach the mythical land of Shangri-La than the other side of Manchester on public transport, let alone at less than three quarters of an hour notice. A football fix was needed though so out came plan B.

With practically all games both local and regional off it meant that for the second week running it was to Lambeth Grove we availed ourselves once more and to where we were treated to a brand new experience - queueing at the turnstiles to see a Woodley Sports game.

A few weeks without a match to watch had obviously taken its toll on a lot of local supporters and their desperation to see a game provided the home team with a bump of almost 200 on their average home attendance. Besides the Mossley supporters who'd made the short journey there were fans from Ashton United, Trafford, Hyde United, Rochdale, Buxton, Manchester City and probably many, many more. There were a few rumours doing the rounds that there were some supporters from Woodley and Rossendale too but that just seems fanciful.

Two players challenge for the ball. No idea who they are but it's one of the few photos that came out okay.

The game itself it was a good one, if a little one sided as Woodley picked up the three points on offer without working up too much of a sweat. A goal in each half, even if it should have been more, gave them a comfortable 2 - 0 win over a very poor looking Rossendale side.

That's not to take anything away from Woodley though who have undergone a significant improvement without a huge change in personnel (on the pitch at least ) since we stuck four goals past them in November - you know, back when Mossley used to play matches.

Gavin Salmon pretends to be an aeroplane in celebration of Woodley's second goal.

What lulls in play there were more than filled though by head scratching topics of conversation taking place off the pitch which somehow over the course of the ninety minutes went from blue ice to Scottish beavers via what trains leave in stations, ninjas, Lee Van Cleef, Shooting Stars, weather girls, suffragettes, the exact words of Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer Katsenellenbogen-by-the-sea (e-e-e-eeee) and elk cloning. Plus a few other things I couldn't possible repeat on a blog that doesn't require it readers to be 18 years or older to read. A typical Saturday afternoon then.

To Tuesday then when it look almost certain that Mossley will play their first match at Seel Park in nine weeks. That is unless Mother Nature sticks her enormous oar in again.

Oh, and if you're interested, Mossley apparently won their friendly 5 - 1.

Thumbs A-Twiddling

Once again there's no midweek football to report on as the Siberian weather system that's positioned itself over the British Isles for the better part of two weeks retains its icy grip. No Mossley vesus Maine Road, no anything at anywhere that didn't have under soil heating.

I've no idea what you've done without any football but I've passed the time by joining things on the internet that have just passed their peak moments of popularity. I don't jump on bandwagons, I chase them up the street after they've driven past.

I also came across this may fill a few brief empty seconds - The World's Funniest Street Signs which contains one entry that a good proportion of you will have been to.

Fingers and toes crossed for some football at the weekend so that we can avoid more pointless postings such as this one.

Woodley Sports 2 - 3 Kendal Town

One game.

Out of a normally hectic period of football over the New Year, that's all that remained locally after the continuing low temperatures decimated the fixture lists. And at half-time I was really regretting that this one, a Unibond League Cup tie, had survived.

Even though I'd witnessed a stunning second minute strike that gave Kendal a one goal lead at the interval (which to be truthful had more than an element of hit and hope about it than intention) and watched Woodley waste three gilt edged chances to pull level, there was little else to suggest that making the effort to attend was worth it, such was the paucity of fare on offer.

Thankfully what transpired in the second half quickly put an end to the daydreams I was having of what I could have been doing had I stopped at home in the warmth.

Woodley, manager less and a league below their opponents, proceeded to give Kendal the proverbial runaround. Their efforts looked to have been in vain though as chances flew wide of the goal and what time was left (as well as the temperature) rapidly dwindled.

With four minutes of the match remaining there was a bitter-sweet moment when Woodley got the equaliser they richly deserved via a thirty yard daisy cutter from Gavin Salmon, who had up to that point been Sports' sitter-misser-in-chief. It was a richly deserved reward for their efforts but it also meant that extra-time now loomed large on the horizon; never a welcome thing on the warmest of days, let alone when it's on one that would see pengiuns shivering. And getting colder.

The prospect of thirty more minutes at Ice Station Lambeth Grove looked to have been avoided when the Cumbrians responded to Woodley's equaliser with a goal of their own in the nintieth minute. To say it was something of a shock would be an understatement as up till that point there attack had been declared M.I.A.

So with a "hard luck" thought transmitted to the Woodley players we started to make our way home, only to find ourselves trudging wearily back to the spot we'd just vacated on the touchlines when Woodley produced another equaliser in the third minute of time added on. In fact on Channel M's footage of the game you should be able to see us turn on our heels as the overhead kick from Cotton flies into the net we're walking behind.

Kendal players take time out to contemplate the prospect of spending thirty minutes more than they'd planned to in the Stockport suburbs.

As seems more often than not to be the case when it comes to extra-time, the goal that ultimately wins the game arrives not long after it starts, and this match was no exception. Just four minutes had elapsed when Melling headed in from a corner and unlike 'normal time' Woodley couldn't muster a response; due in no small part to Kendal manager Lee Ashcroft's introducing himself into the game and adding a work ethic to his side that had been visibly lacking and some weight to his sides otherwise hapless attack.

No more goals were forthcoming which while unfair on Woodley, was welcome news for my extremities which were about to wave the white flag - the temperature having dropped so much that I don't think I could have made it through a penalty shootout without something dropping off.

The final whistle not only signalled Kendal's passage into the next round but brought to an end the festive campaign for another year too. It's one which hasn't seen much in the way of football this time round but the other sad aspect of its passing is that, for many of us, it also signifies that the return to work is just around the corner.

Although for how long you'll actually be attending work over the coming year in these financial 'End Days' is another matter entirely. Personally speaking, while the end is not nigh, I get the feeling there's a priest who has been put on standby to administer the Last Rites before I depart into downsizing limbo. Still, no use worrying about the future. Well not yet anyway.

If only all places of work were like this:

The weather forecast for the coming week doesn't look good but, fingers crossed, the next update to this blog should be a report on Mossley's first game at Maine Road for quite some time as we re-embark on the 'road to wherever the County FA can hire out the cheapest' in the Manchester Premier Cup.