Mossley 3 - 2 Harrogate Railway Athletic

Regular readers (see how I'm being unusually optimistic by using the plural) will know that the reports on the blog are the official ones with a few added extras - such as the odd, toe curlingly bad gag, a tortured metaphor or two and the occasional expression of an opinion that no one agrees with.

Sometimes though the report on here carries none of those of things and is simply just a straight copy of the one which appears on the official site, in the programme and, every now and again, in the local paper too. There's a perfectly good reason for this... well, now I come to think of it there's actually two. The first is pure, unadulterated, wanting to spend my Sunday's doing something better laziness.

The second though, and the reason that's pertinent on this occasion, is because there's simply nothing to write about; at least nothing to expound on in greater and more elaborate detail. What's in the official report is the entirety of what took place barring the omission of a couple of chances that you'd be hard pushed to affix the label of 'half' too.I know, it seems incredible that a game containing five goals could be so incident free but that was the case.

Anyhoo, with all that out of the way...

After an injury time equaliser at Trafford had brought their run of five successive victories to an end in midweek, Mossley embarked on what they no doubt hope will be another lengthy run of positive results with a win against Harrogate Railway Athletic at a rain sodden Seel Park.

Despite their lowly position in the league, any assumptions that this would be an 'easy' fixture for the Lilywhites were countered by the fact that Harrogate entered the match as one of the in-form sides in the Unibond First Division North having taken 13 out of a possible 15 points, including a defeat of current league leaders Lancaster City.

And if there were any lingering thoughts that it would be a relatively trouble free afternoon for the Mossley, who themselves were on a similar vein of form, they were dispelled in an opening thirteen minute spell that the visitors dominated and in which they took a deserved lead. The impressive Ben Jones fed the ball into the path of Kevin Ryan and after shrugging off the attentions of Graham Kay, the burly Harrogate striker fired the ball low across Peter Collinge and into the corner of the net.

It was a lead that didn't last long though as less than two minutes later, and on what was practically their first attack, Chris McDonagh netted from close range to pull Mossley level; the forward taking advantage of some leaden footed defending to ghost into the box and onto the end of Steve Settle's inch perfect through ball.

McDonagh and Matty Kay both had opportunities to edge the home side in front before Steve Moore did just that eight minutes from the break. A weak punch by ex-Mossley keeper James Mann following a goalmouth scramble fell to the feet of Moore on the edge of the penalty area and his first time strike flew through a crowd of players and across the line.

The goal helped to calm a few nerves as Mossley could have easily found themselves playing catch-up again just two minutes before Moore's strike. Fortunately Aaron Hollingdrake was unable to punish the lax defending that saw him with the ball at his feet and only the goalkeeper to beat by firing horribly wide of the upright from ten yards out.

Unsurprisingly the combined effects of the weather and the energy sapping nature of the heavy pitch began to take its toll on the players and, as a consequence, the entertainment value of the match too. Tired limbs led to a succession of mistakes and it was through one that Mossley gave a cushion to their lead in the 63rd minute.

A long clearance down field should have been dealt with easily by Harrogate centre half Grogan but his mis-control allowed McDonagh to take possession. The ball then worked it's way across the 18 yard box via the boot of Matty Kay to Moore who launched a rocket of a shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

The loss of Jones through injury appeared to bring to an end the visitors best hope of fashioning a comeback and Mossley looked to be cruising to a comfortable three points. At least that was the case until Ryan scored his second of the afternoon with two minutes of the match remaining, giving the Lilywhites a slightly more nervous end to the game than they were expecting as Athletic pushed men forward in search of an equaliser.

Their defence however wasn't to be breached for a third time and the Lilywhites kept their lead intact to register a sixth win in seven outings, move themselves into ninth spot in the table and with the number of games they have in hand on the teams above them, spark faint hopes of possible push for a play-off spot.

Well some people think there's an outside chance of spot in the top five come the end of the season. I very much doubt we'll get there but stranger things have happened. I mean, in the middle of December who'd have thought we'd ever be as high as ninth? Or scoring more than one goal a game in the league?

Then again, who'd have thought we'd have no floodlights and be playing some home games at Ashton United? If you did, what lottery numbers have you got for next week?