Trafford 2 - 1 Mossley

There's a train of thought in some medical circles that the brain has only a finite amount of space to store happy or pleasurable memories; that there comes a point when new ones will see older ones banished from the mind and consigned to being forgotten.

If this is indeed the case, the supporters who made the short trek to Shawe View went to sleep last night safe in the knowledge that there was no chance of any long cherished memories having been banished to the ether by the time they woke up this morning.

Continuing along the path travelled since the interval at Ossett Albion a week earlier, the Lilywhites latest outing produced another performance that lacked the spark and verve we know they're capable of. And with its omission they allowed an equally lacklustre and soporific Trafford side to take the honours and claim a place in the President's Cup final.

To say the game was disappointing (in the most part) would be something of an understatement. To say that it was somewhat controversial too wouldn't be.

The contentious moment, or rather the most pivotal one of many, came sixteen minutes into what was otherwise an eminently forgettable first half.

After Scott Barlow had used his considerable pace to take him clear of the visitors defence, he was met head on by James Mann just inside the penalty area. The Lilywhites keeper went to ground and knocked the ball out of Barlow's path and to apparent safety before both players collided with one another.

To the Mossley players undisguised amazement however the referee brought the game to a halt and pointed to the penalty spot. Even though during the resulting protestations the official allegedly admitted that Mann had reached the ball first, his decision to award the foul and show a yellow card was based entirely on the keepers momentum; or rather his inability to do what no-one else has evade done and evade one of Newton's Laws of Motion.

It was a gift for Trafford, one of many on the night from the officials, and one Andy Lundy accepted by converting the spot-kick.

That's not to say that the ludicrous decisions were all one way. The game was just a couple of minutes old when Nick Boothby somehow escaped being shown a yellow card for really poor challenge from behind but the pièce de résistance came in the second half.

Right back Christian Cooke got into a muddle with the ball at his feet and was ultimately robbed of it by a Trafford player. As the Traffordian set off on his now clear path to goal, the assistant referee for some inexplicable reason flagged for offside. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful he did as a resulting goal from the move would have been the final nail in Mossley's wooden overcoat, but how can you trust that other decisions are correct when ones like this are so wrong?

That said it was one of the few points of note in what was turning out to be an equally incident free second half; one slowly crawling towards its conclusion with only the occasional other head scratching decision from an official to break the monotony. With over an hour gone it looked increasingly like the one meaningful shot that had taken place in the entire game would win this Unibond President's Cup semi-final.

That changed with twenty minutes to go when a series of Mossley substitutions finally injected some much needed fire into the Lilywhites bellies and, for the first time in the match, one of the two sides began to enjoy a sustained spell of pressure. Substitute David Brooke was the first visiting player to go close, glancing a header narrowly wide of the right hand post, before Alex Mortimer and Chris Hirst brought the first saves of the evening out of Trafford keeper Andy Read.

Despite getting a hand to the ball though, Read was unable to stop Lee Blackshaw's 80th minute effort from nestling in the bottom corner of the net after the winger had cut into the penalty area from the left. At this point of the match, with Mossley in the ascendency, it looked like there was only going to be one winner.

Football's fickle finger fate however had other ideas.

You see the joy at drawing level lasted barely thirty seconds. A hoofed clearance from deep within the Trafford half caught Mossley's back line cold/asleep/still in a celebratory mood (the choice is yours) and Barlow had all the time he needed to slot the ball past Mann for his and his sides second goal of the match.

It was the metaphorical kick in the teeth for the Lilywhites but to their credit they pushed hard over what little remained of the game for an equaliser that would take the tie to extra-time. The closest they got was when Nathan Neequaye smashed a close range shot into Read's face and without that second goal, Mossley bowed out of the President's Cup at the final whistle.

Unlike most other semi-finals were there always appears to be a great wailing or gnashing of teeth from the supporters of the defeated teams, there was none from the travelling fans last night. There was some disappointment and, yes, even a touch of anger at the officials, but the most overwhelming feeling you got as the way was made home was one of frustration; the kind that comes when you know that a side can play well and just... well, just isn't.

We flitted in and out of spells of good football last night, much as we have done for a while, and until we can start stretching those moments into longer periods of time we'll continue to struggle.

The one big positive out this match is that we finally got round to producing some telling crosses again. In fact there were probably more decent crosses in the space of last night's game than there has been for weeks. The problem was that every single one was an easy catch for the keeper - the only pressure on him he had was the tightness of the shirt around his jiggling moobs.

The biggest killer about this game though was that Trafford weren't all that brilliant either. Barring the two goals they only had one other real chance but that's football – Trafford took theirs, we stood watching ours fly into the hands of the keeper.

With the run of defeats now stretching to four games, let's hope we can can start picking up points before a slump becomes a slide and, maybe along the way, push some old memories into the cerebrums waste bin.