Mossley 2 - 1 New Mills

A punishing sequence of five games in ten days began for the Lilywhites with them booking a place in their first cup final for six years with a, too literally at times, hard fought victory over NWCL high fliers New Mills.

It couldn't have got off to a better start for the home team either as with just a minute of the match having elapsed, they took the lead. A wonderful piece of close control by Clive Moyo-Modise on the halfway line gave Craig Buckley the opportunity to drop an inch perfect pass over the New Mills defence and into the path of Danny Dignan. Taking one touch to control the ball on his chest as he entered the penalty area, the former Miller stroked the ball past ex-Lilywhite goalkeeper Liam Higginbotham with his second to give his side a dream opening to a semi-final.

Thirteen minutes later things got even better for the Lilywhites as they strengthened their control on the game by doubling their lead. This time it was Lee Blackshaw who found the net, shooting in powerfully from close range after the visitors had twice failed to clear their lines following a free-kick.

And to show that karma's now operating at broadband speed, the opening fell to Blackshaw through Danny Jackson's hysterically inept attempt at a scissor kick clearance; the Miller in question having initially given away the set piece with a cynical challenge on Michael Fish.

Sadly he didn't finish there as an off-the-ball challenge a few minutes later finally put Fish out of the game but sadly not himself. The referee unbelievably choosing to issue him with a final warning rather than the second yellow and red card he deserved.

Also fortunate not to be trudging up the tunnel to the sound of boos was Gary Kharas who got away with a yellow card after punching Gary Buckley in the face right in front of the referee.

As the Mossley Eye said as we looked on incredulously, the referee seemingly had no intention of producing a red card on the night, no matter what happened. A theory that was given weight in the second half after only yellow was shown for an awful tackle from behind by Matty Bunting that put Dignan perilously close to following Fish out of the game with an injury.

Like I said earlier though, karma's getting much quicker these days and Bunting spent last few minutes of the game hobbling round the pitch after twisting his ankle.

I seem to be writing this about a lot of teams this season but New Mills have some very good players so why the feel need to compliment them with a style that, at times, bordered on sheer recklessness is beyond me. To pinch another comment said on the night, they were like Willenhall but without the elan.

If you don't agree with me about the recklessness then I point you to the attempted “tackle” from Meakin in the first half that had Lee Blackshaw not managed to evade, would almost have certainly seen him in the back of an ambulance and on the way to hospital.

Don't believe me? Then I offer you the following still taken from some of the video footage I took. How can players be allowed to get away with things like this on a pitch? Does someone actually have to get seriously injured before action is taken?

Unbelievably it looks worse in motion. And before someone tries to defend it this way, how can a challenge like this be taken out of context?

Anyway, rant over and back to the game.

Over the course of the next twenty minutes Mossley threatened to run riot as chance after chance presented itself for them to wrap up the game before the interval was even on the horizon. That they didn't was down to a combination of some poor finishing and some incredibly narrow near misses; both of which meant that their opponents were still only a goal away from getting back into the game, which they did in the 38th minute.

A spell of pressure which began with Andy Robertson having to make a near point blank save from Matt Smith and New Mills hitting a post from the resultant corner, ended with Carlos Meakin halving the arrears with a low shot past the Mossley keeper.

If it caused the home side to wobble it didn't show and they ended the half back on top and missing chances which if they'd lost the game, they almost certainly would have looked back on and rued.

The early moments of the second period saw Meakin and Moyo-Modise wasting good opportunities to add to the scoreline for their respective teams before the game became a midfield battle; both sides effectively cancelling one another in a high tempo war of attrition. As the pace of the game and the heaviness of the pitch began to take its toll on the players though, more space started to open up and with it chances began to reappear once again.

Mossley's best opportunity to seal the win came when Chris Hirst initiated a two-on-one break, but some over elaboration on the edge of the box gave the Millers time to reinforce their defence and when the shot finally did arrive, it flew harmlessly wide.

The closest the Derbyshire side went to extending the game by another thirty minutes was in injury time. A series of increasingly troubling corners looked to have ended with Meakin heading New Mills level, but somehow Roberton managed to knock the ball away to safety with his legs and keep the Lilywhites lead intact.

The victory means that Mossley now face in the final the opponents they met in their last appearance at the same stage of the competition nine years ago, neighbours Droylsden and at the same venue, Oldham Athletics's Boundary Park.

This time though there'll hopefully be a much better outcome for the Lilywhites and if not (and for the sake of all of us) an infinitely more entertaining game.

I'm going to dispense with my usual inane overview of the game in order to congratulate Mossley - the players, the manager and the backroom staff on taking Mossley to their first cup final since the 2003 NWCL League Cup triumph over Clithroe.

The MPC may not be the greatest competition in the world but there's a not a trophy in any sport that isn't worth winning, including this one.

It also means the players are going to finish this season with at least one medal to show for their efforts. Let's hope that it's one that has 'winners' engraved on it when they're presented next month.

Hmmm... Boundary Park in April, I'd better not pack the thermal underwear away just yet.

Because of the number of games coming up and the lack of time to do anything in, the video highlights from this match will be posted on the internet at a time still to be determined. Unfortunately I can't be more specific than that because frankly, I'm currently more preoccupied with wondering if I can manage to do five reports in ten days without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

One down, four more to worry about.