Leigh Genesis 1 - 1 Mossley

This was one of those matches that certain clichés 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.