Curzon Ashton 1 - 2 Colwyn Bay

One thing you never expect as a spectator at a play-off is to see a good game. There's so much riding on the outcome, especially in one legged ties, that extreme caution tends to outweigh any notion of entertainment the teams involved may have.

Not on this occasion though as the meeting between Curzon Ashton and Colwyn Bay failed to live up to even the low expectations I had. It wasn't good - it really wasn't. I appreciate that the supporters of the two clubs involved will think differently but from a neutrals perspective it was a supreme test of patience.

As a Mossley fan I'm familiar with the clinical, and rather excellent, way Colwyn Bay have taken us apart over the past few seasons so the long ball tactics they employed in this game were quite a shock. Though not quite as big a shock as the fact they persisted with this tactic despite them getting no joy from it whatsoever. They posed so little threat that when Curzon took the lead just before the interval through Michael Norton it looked like game over already.

It was a view that didn't change until Bay made a double substitution midway through the second period and finally they began to play a bit of football. Within moments of doing so they were awarded a spot-kick when Phil Edgehill blocked the path of the ball with a raised arm (though naturally, like our penalty at the Tameside Stadium on Easter Monday, the Curzon website doesn't think it was one) and eleven minutes after Ian Sheridan had converted that, they got the winner; Lee Davey taking advantage of some very, very poor marking (see video below) to head the Welsh side into a play-off final against Lancaster City.

I can't believe I'm actually going to type this but the result was a touch unfair on Curzon as they were the best side on the night. However you won't find many of the large number of Mossley fans present at the game complaining too much at Bay snatching the win. Actually you won't have heard them saying anything due to the enormous grins they had on their faces.

If the video above isn't working or you want better quality, click here.

So while Colwyn Bay head off to Lancashire coast this weekend for a date with destiny, Curzon are left to ponder on another play-off defeat and what could possibly have been the last hurrah for the clubs most successful squad.

Stories of striker Norton departing for pastures new have been a staple of the non-league rumour mill for quite a few seasons now but this year they seem to have a lot more substance to them. Add to that gossip of other players moving on and the whispers of the purse strings being pulled a lot tighter, it could well be that next season at the Tameside Stadium is one of those that's described in future press releases as 'a rebuilding phase'.

Or as everyone else calls it, "not being as good as you were."

Mossley 4 - 1 Rossendale United

This is it - the last one. The final match report of a season that has been, technically, shorter than most but felt an awful lot longer.

I'd like to go out with a spectacularly well written piece - something deep and meaningful that inspires both tears and smiles and leaves you yearning for the arrival of August - but as I've done no such things in the past, why start now?

What you'll get instead is a straight to-the-point report that will begin by stating both the season and John Flanagan's brief reign as Mossley manager came to an end with a victory, before going on to say that it guaranteed the Lilywhites seventh spot in the Unibond First Division North and condemned Rossendale to finishing a second successive campaign at the foot of the table.

As much as I'd like to avoid using the the cliché “a typical end of season affair” to describe the match it's hard not to as the game rarely developed a head of steam under the spring sunshine bathing Seel Park. Especially during a first half in which the two goals that gave Mossley the lead at the interval were the only moments of note in an otherwise lacklustre opening period.

The first goal arrived just after the half hour mark when a Dale defender tried to chest a right wing cross from Mike Fish into the arms of his goalkeeper Tom Brocklehurst. Unfortunately for him he completely misjudged just how far away the intended recipient was and only succeeded in cushioning the ball into the path of the inrushing Lee Blackshaw who converted the chance gifted to him.

Lee Blackshaw reels away after opening the scoring.

An error played a part in Mossley's second goal as well, however it shouldn't take anything away from the build-up which involved a blistering run over half the length of the pitch by Ben Richardson to get on to the end of of long, looping pass. His shot wasn't a particularly well struck one but the United keeper inexplicably let the ball pass through his hands as he bent to collect it, allowing the effort to roll slowly across the goal line and into the net.

Ben Richardson's shot prepares to slip through the grasp of the goalkeeper.

Thankfully for those watching from the terraces the second half had a bit more life to it – a situation aided in no small part by David Owens pulling a goal back for the visitors almost immediately after the restart. They came agonisingly close to levelling the scores too when Williams and ex-Mossley forward Ian Barker both hit the cross bar within the space of ten seconds.

It was a warning that finally woke Mossley from their post half-time slumber and Matty Kay restored the Lilywhites two goal advantage with a neat finish from ten yards. The goal was his 29th of the campaign but the 30th remained elusive despite Kay going desperately close on a number of occasions to registering it.

Matty Kay notches his 29th goal of the season.

Another goal was to come though and with five minutes remaining Mossley completed their scoring for the afternoon and the 2009/10 season when Chris McDonagh headed an inswinging free-kick beyond the dive of Brocklehurst.

Chris McDonagh (10) rounds off the afternoon's entertainment.

The post match news of Flanagan's resignation as manager due to work commitments undoubtedly took some of the shine off the win. But if the squad he leaves behind, and the spirit he's imbued them with, can remain intact over the summer there's no reason to believe that Mossley can't set their sights for a higher finish than seventh.

And that's it - a weary report to end a season of ups, downs and the odd moments of going round and round in circles.

Those of an eagle-eyed disposition will have noted that the above looks awfully like the official report and there's a reason for that: it is the official report, albeit with a new top and tail. I wish there could have been more differences but the time needed to do that has to be spent on other things - things which will hopefully be up on this very blog sometime in the near future. And you never know, they may even be worth reading.

Did I just hear you say, "there's first time for everything"?

Mossley 1 - 1 Skelmersdale United

Hold onto your hats because time dictates that this is going to be a quick blast through of what happened in Mossley's last game using Hurst Cross as a home base.

There may be spelling mistakes, there may be grammatical errors, it's likely to be rubbish but at least it's not going to eat into your time like these reports usually do. So buckle in, deep breath and...

Whether it was tiredness or just being wary of a side who'd put five past them five days earlier, Mossley began the match in a cautious manner. It was a decision which allowed Skelmersdale to see plenty of the ball but not the goal as some strong defending from the forward line back meant that chances where like the supporters on the terraces - few and far between.

Up until the 40th minute it looked like a spectacularly awful attempt at trying to win a penalty by United's Birch would be the highlight of the opening period. However, with what can only be described as a jammy, flukey, mis-hit of a shot (though it could have been a cross or an attempt to control the ball given the peculiar shape he was pulling), Michael White ensured that the visitors would head into the interval with the lead after scuffing the ball into the net.

As the second half progressed Mossley started to grow more and more adventurous and thanks to Skelmersdale's Curzon Ashton impression (all blue kit - all long hoofs up the pitch) they began to enjoy a lot more possession. Chances weren't exactly coming thick but and fast but they were keeping the Skem players busy in their own penalty area.

There have been many times in Mossley's past when they've paid the price for not making the most of moments in a game when they're on top. Thankfully though this wasn't an occasion to be added to that list. A fantastically long goal mouth scramble (it was like the Can-Can with all the legs that were swinging away) came to an end with the ball being knocked out of play by one of the visitors. From the resulting corner Mike Fish supplied a superbly weighted cross onto the head of Andy Russell and a split-second later the ball was in the back of the net and the Lilywhites were on level terms.

Skelmersdale could - and indeed, should - have won the game in injury time. Phil Mooney found himself unmarked in the six yard box as his side countered a Mossley attack but he inexplicably headed the ball wide when doing just that seemed the most impossible thing to do.

It was a miss that kept the scores level though and neither side will argue that a point each wasn't the fairest outcome. And a point is effectively all Mossley need against Rossendale to finish the season in seventh place - a position which three months ago looked as unlikely as the General Election being a three horse race.

So farewell Hurst Cross. Thanks for the help and the memories and should our paths ever have to cross again, lets hope the circumstances for them doing so are better ones.

And... done!

Relax, breathe out and on to the last one!

Mossley 5 - 2 Garforth Town

Having spent far too many years watching football I didn't think that there was anything left in the sport that could surprise me.

I've seen, and I'm sure you have too, astonishing comebacks, games thrown away when they were as good as won, fantastic goals, unforgettable howlers, results that defy logic and lots, lots more too numerous to detail here.

But in this match I was introduced to a genuinely new and pleasing experience: the sight of a Garforth team which was more interested in playing some very good football rather than seeing how many times they could whack the ball and their opponents up in the air.

Fixture involving Garforth have, for me anyway, always been ones that have been anticipated in the same way that someone on death row looks forward to the day after their last meal. Past meetings have included plenty of goals but there's always been an unsavoury edge too and as a consequence the football has come a distant second to... well, anti-football.

However, Simon Clifford's decision to hand over the managerial reigns while he concentrates on his business seems to have had a positive effect out on the pitch as the Yorkshire side are now playing something approaching the type of football that's been advertised on their website for years.

And what a pleasing thing it was to be able to watch too: excellent passing, superb off the ball movement - the sort of thing you really want to watch as a football fan. The best thing about it all though was that Mossley were just that little bit better than them at it.

Unlike the visitors Mossley had the cutting edge to compliment the quality of the build-up play and this was no more in evidence than over the course of an incredible first twelve minutes of the match. Not only did the Lilywhites take a 3rd minute lead through Mike Fish, they added a second and a third in quick succession thanks to Ben Richardson and Fish again.

Ben Richardson slots home the second goal of the night.

The incredibleness would have probably gone off the scale (that's if there was such a thing as an incredibleness scale) if Garforth had converted the golden opportunities that they were presented with in that initial 720 seconds as only a bad miss, a good save and goal line clearance stopped the score from being three apiece while the pies were still lukewarm.

The pace of the game didn't let up either after that initial spell of action as both sides launched attack after attack and chances came and went with all the regularity of a made up story in the Daily Express or Star.

Its been said many times before that there's no such thing as a comfy lead when Mossley are the team in front and this game was a prime example of why that's the case. With half-time approaching Mossley's lead went from three goals to just one as Garforth scored twice within a matter of minutes through Adam Clayton and Tom Greaves. And it must be said they were some top quality goals too that even the Mossley supporters had to acknowledge that with a gentle round of applause (as well as a touch of sarcasm just to balance things out).

They weren't to be the final say in a fantastic first-half though as Fish completed his hat-trick with a well taken goal that left the keeper stood stock still and allowed most of the supporters to begin breathing a little easier again.

Whenever there's a first half jam packed goals, it's often the case that the second period is a forty five minute boreathon. Thankfully though there are exceptions that disprove the rule and this was on of the few.

It retained the excitement the opening period had but both sides seemed to twig that defending a bit better might help their cause and though it remained end-to-end the gilt-edged chances were fewer. That said there was still plenty of them for both sides to have scored from and that they didn't was down to last-ditch blocks, good saves and hands-to-head misses - there should even have been a penalty or two too.

But there was one more goal to add to the six already scored and it went the home sides way. A good bit of close control from Andy Watson was complimented by an inch perfect through ball to Nathan Neequaye who with only the keeper to beat, unselfishly played a square pass to Matty Kay and Mossley's leading scorer added to his total for the season.

As someone said on the evening, the match was almost like a pre-season friendly. It was a game with nothing riding on it other than pride and with no pressure on them, two evenly matched sides just went for the win and it was great to watch.

To be honest, in much the same way the score line three days earlier at Skelmersdale was apparently unfair on Mossley (as I've been told by those who went) this one was harsh on Garforth. If it had finished a draw I don't think anyone could have complained about the result.

But Mossley did win and did so by blooding some of the younger players (John McIlwaine, Connor Hampson and Alex Byrne) and playing with a goalkeeper upfront for the final four minutes. Not a bad night if you can do that, win well and tighten your grip on a potential seventh place finish in the league.

Now to do the same again on Thursday and gain some quick revenge on Skelmersdale for the defeat at the weekend. Actually, recent defeat or not, beating Skem and applying a pin to their ever over inflated bubble of self-importance is always something to savour.

30 Years Ago: Part Two

19/04/1980: Boston United 1 - 2 Mossley (2-3 agg)

A week after the one-all draw at Seel Park, Mossley and Boston met at the latters York Street Ground ground for the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-final.

Unlike the first leg I wasn't at this game. Instead I was at home listening to score updates on BBC Radio Manchester; updates which finished at half-time with Boston leading by one goal and leaving those not having travelled to Lincolnshire on tenterhooks.

I was having my tea (dinner if you're posh) when they finally gave out the final score and of all the things I remember from my childhood, this moment is one of the clearest: "Boston United 1 (pause from the announcer) Mossley 2." I've no idea what was said after that because my dad was cheering and I was stunned. In a happy way of course because even at that very early age I knew what the significance was of any team, especially one of Mossley's size, going to Wembley and I was going to get the opportunity to see them do it.

The first two images below contain the report on the game which was printed in the Mossley & Saddleworth Reporter. So if you want a breakdown of what happened on the day (including some peculiar half-time antics) just click on the pictures and you'll be taken to larger scans of the article. The third image is a cutting taken from one of the Sunday tabloids published the following day:

If you were at York Street on this particular day and want to share your memories of what happened, just click on the comments section below.

Coming soon - hopefully - the build-up to the Trophy Final.

Skelmersdale United 5 - 2 Mossley

Unfortunately circumstances dictate that I can't provide you with a report on this game (no doubt to the unutterable delight of a couple of people) as I was otherwise occupied on this particular afternoon.

I know - shame on me for missing a game! Then again with me not being a 'genuine supporter' you really should expect lapses like this.

Though it looks like a heavy defeat when it's written down like it is in the title of this post, having read about what happened it seems that, unlike the loss against Curzon two days earlier, we were the victims of trying to chase the game; that we got sucker punched while piling forward in search of an equaliser. We did it to Clitheroe not so long ago and in this game it appears we were given a double dose of the same medicine.

But why have me telling you what I read when you can see for yourself? There's the Mossley view, the Skelmersdale view, the Google Maps view, an ocean view, A Room With A View A View To A Kill, Belle Vue, I Believe In you, Ibuleve... sorry, getting a bit carried away there!

The result means we've now conceded 14 goals in our last three visits to Skem and on each occasion we've had the manager dismissed from the dug out. Who's looking forward to next seasons trip? ;-)

Still, at least we get the chance to take some swift revenge on Thursday when the return fixture takes place in what will, hopefully, be our last game using Hurst Cross as a home.

Can we leave foreign soil with a win? Could we put a dint in Skelemrsdale's own promotion hopes? Could we cement a seventh place finish in the league? Will there be a report on the game on here? Will I actually be going?

Stay tuned folks to this channel for answers to all these questions and more!

Mossley 1 - 4 Curzon Ashton

If there's anybody who still believes Mossley have a chance of reaching the play-off's then they should phone the Guiness Book of Records immediately and get themselves certificated as the most optimistic person on the world because this is the result that effectively ends the Lilywhites late push for a top five finish.

A game too far in an overly crowded fixture schedule, a very off night that all teams have from time to time or simply outclassed by a better side - hatever the reason is you believe for Mossley's subdued performance in this match (the truth probably being a mix of all three), the result remains the same: a comprehensive and heavy defeat to local rivals Curzon Ashton.

The early stages of the second meeting between the two sides in ten days suggested that the Lilywhites would pick up the baton from where they left off at the Tameside Stadium. Within sixty seconds of the match kicking off Lee Blackshaw fired a shot narrowly over the cross bar after wriggling through a couple of challenges and they followed this up by exerting a tremendous amount of pressure which kept Curzon contained to the general vicinity of their own penalty area.

Sadly it couldn't last and by the time the game clock had ticked over into double figures the visitors were comfortably the team in the ascendency. Their sole game plan of hitting it as hard, as high and as far as they could up the pitch might have been awful to watch but it was brutally effective and through it they opened the scoring. Although it must be said not without a little help from Mossley.

An attack broke down with a sloppy pass and the ball was immediately sent skywards (so high I swear it came down with a coating of volcanic ash on it) and towards the far end corner of the pitch. Unfortunately for the defender attempting to shepherd the punt off a for a goal kick, he got his positioning wrong and allowed Ajay-Leitch Smith to take possession and play a square pass to Dean Canning - alone and unmarked in the the Lilywhites box - who made no mistake in firing a shot past Peter Collinge.

The failure to pick up players in a blue shirt when they entered they Mossley penalty area quickly became a feature of the night and if Curzon hadn't been so wasteful with their chances, the game would have been over bar the shouting long before the interval – Michael Norton especially being guilty of wasting a couple of 'harder to miss' chances. Instead they only managed one more before the half came to an end and it arrived courtesy of a penalty after another passage of play best forgotten by the Lilywhites finished with Smith being tripped in the box; Norton completing the punishment from the spot.

Ten minutes into second period Canning doubled his tally for the game. Taking advantage of being unmarked again - this time while being little more than a yard away from the line - he headed the ball home, finishing a move that began by Mossley surrendering possession far too cheaply in the middle of the park.

Rather than opening the floodgates, it spurred Mossley into their best spell of the game. Chris McDonagh almost connected with a knock down from Michael Fish, Nick Allan shot narrowly wide and Matty Kay had a very good claim for a penalty ignored by the match official. It was from the corner resulting from the latter incident though that Mossley did reduce the arrears with Andy Watson deflecting the ball over the line at the back post (although the video evidence of this particular event suggests it was Phil Edgehill who bundled the ball into his own net).

If Michael Fish hadn't had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside not long after, it's possible that Mossley may have gone on to rescue the game, such was the panic that was slowly beginning to spread through Curzon's back line as the pressure increased. The raised flag of the official however not only cancelled out the goal but signalled the end of Mossley's mini-revival too.

The Lilywhites saw little of the ball over the final twenty minutes of the match as Curzon slowly wound down the clock with a copious amount of time wasting; something not all that surprising given it was the latter stages of both sides sixth game within the space of a fortnight.

The visitors found a spring in their step though to add a fourth in the closing moments but again it was Mossley who were the architects, this time with a comedy of errors so ridiculous that if I described to you what happened you simply wouldn't believe it. All you need to know is that this calamitous series of events ended with Norton rolling the ball into an empty net from the edge of the area.

It's impossible to argue that playing a game almost every other day hasn't had an effect on the stamina and energy levels of the Lilywhites but it also has to be said that it's a schedule Curzon have had too. And though the Blues may have had an extra 24 hours to rest between this and their last game, the difference between the sides was more marked than that explanation could ever provide.

But as I kind of mentioned some way back up there at the beginning of this post, events conspire at times and the combination of tired limbs, a good team wanting to avenge a recent defeat and a poor performance from the other produce games and results such as this one. It happens and you move on to the next one.

The defeat means that the highest position Mossley can realistically hope of finishing in is seventh and considering where they were in the league at Christmas, that's some achievement in itself.

Colwyn Bay 3 - 1 Mossley

If you've come here looking for a match report on the Colwyn Bay game then I'm afraid I'm going to have to tell you to move along as there's nothing to see here.

The same also applies if you've landed here looking for fun and entertainment too. If you have, jeepers, have you come to the wrong corner of the internet! But thanks for visiting - if only for the split-second it takes for you to realise your mistake.

Anyway, back to all things Mossley and Bay-like and the reason why there's nothing to see is because I wasn't at the game. Therefore I can't bring you my own view on what happened, though I'd hazard a guess it would include something about the number of fixtures we've played recently, along with other statements that can always be chucked into a report at this time in of the season to fill up a couple of paragraphs.

And neither can I like the last time I missed a game in Cymru bring you an 'alternative' report on the game. Time constraints mean that further tales of Helsen Blackstarr, if indeed there are to be any more, will have to wait for another day. Before I dwell though on how much that last sentence will have confused an awful lot of people, I'll give you a brief run down of what I do know about the match thanks to the Twittering of Rhys Wynne.

Despite taking an early lead though a Mike Fish penalty (the fourth consecutive game in which, shoulder-shrugging fact fans, we've been awarded a spot-kick), an unlikely victory against one of our numerous bogey sides wasn't to be. A goal in each half from Anthony Sheehan sandwiched an apparent peach of a volley from Adriano Rigoglioso and ensured that once again, the Lilywhites would be making the trip back home along the A55 with nought to show for their cross border excursion.

Further details of what happened in the land of Gog will undoubtedly appear here at some point in the very near future. And once the oppositions view of proceedings makes its way onto the net, a link to that will pop up on here too. I know, I do spoil you at times.

30 Years Ago: Part One

12/04/1980: Mossley 1 - 1 Boston United

With the anniversary of one of the biggest days in Mossley AFC's history drawing ever nearer, I thought I'd share with you some of the cuttings I've kept from way back then; items and articles that many of you won't have seen for a long time or, possibly even, ever before.

As it's 30 years to the day since the first leg of the FA Trophy Semi-Final against Boston United took place, where better to start the countdown to May 17th than with that 1-1 draw at Seel Park?

Above top: Kevin Gorman fires home an 66th minute equaliser...
Above bottom: And the celebrations at levelling the tie begin.

The two images below make up the report which appeared in what was then the Mossley & Saddleworth Reporter. To read them just click on the pcture and a bigger, more legible version will appear in a new window:

Hopefully over the coming weeks I'll be able to bring you a few more bits and pieces. Especially if I manage to get hold of a scanner!

Mossley 1 - 0 Radcliffe Borough

A 70th minute penalty converted by Matty Kay gave Mossley victory over Radcliffe Borough.

And that's an opening sentence to a report that could also qualify as a closing one because it contains a description of every single incident of note that happened in this game.

Really, it does.

However, because I don't think I could get away filing a 14 word match report to the club programme and local paper, I've had to pad out the 'official' view of proceedings by upgrading the most minor of moments into potential score line altering events.

What follows is that artificially beefed-up submission to the print media, so if you decide to read on just bear in mind that the game was nowhere near as exciting as even the ensuing paragraphs try to make it seem.

It wasn't a bad match, just a dull one. Not that anyone expected anything different with both sides playing their third game in the space of five days. The pre-match concerns of fatigue having an impact on proceedings turned out to be warranted, especially in a opening period that was high on errors but low on goal scoring opportunities.

Only twice in the first half did the deadlock ever look like being broken and the two chances fell within the space of sixty seconds of one another. Borough's Gary Sampson fired a powerful long range effort just wide of the angle between post and crossbar while at the opposite end of the pitch, Andy Russell looped a header onto the roof of the net from a free-kick.

The Lilywhites should have taken the lead immediately following the interval when Ben Richardson embarked on surging run which started deep in his own half and ended in Radcliffe box following a neat one-two with Michael Fish. Unfortunately though the finish didn't match the quality of the build-up and his shot flew high and wide of the target.

As time slowly wore on it looked increasingly likely that the game would end in a stalemate. However, with twenty minutes left a needless challenge by Steve Howson gave the Lilywhites the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot and Matty Kay - who'd been on the receiving end of Howson's illegal tackle – ensured they did by netting his 26th goal of the campaign.

Radcliffe offered little in response to going behind and it allowed Mossley to see out the closing stages of the game in relative comfort. In fact they could have had registered a more convincing victory deep into injury time but for a superb double save from Borough keeper Lloyd Rigby which prevented substitutes Steve Moore and Nathan Neequaye from adding to the scoreline.

The win - and a fourth successive one at that - keeps Mossley's hopes of attaining a place in the top five alive for a little while longer sees them jump two places into seventh: their highest league position of the season.

If you've made it this far then congratulations - not many will have done. And if you got bored and easily distracted reading that, imagine what it was like to watch it happen!

It's churlish to complain though as when you're playing a game seemingly every other day, the result really is the be all and end all.

Mossley 2 - 0 Woodley Sports

My intention was to keep report this short because with the number of games we've got coming up over the next fortnight. I really don't want to spend all of the free time I have writing them. That was the plan and thankfully fate become an ally to the cause because this game was so poor and lacking in incident that it's impossible to do anything other than write the barest amount.

Over the past seven days I've claimed in two reports that the games they were about haven't been good and described them as containing little in the way of entertainment value. I would like at this point to retract those assertions as compared to this match those previous 180 minutes were a thing of beauty - exquisite banquets of footballing excellence that we were extremely privileged to have witnessed. Yep, this game was that bad.

Actually that's unfair on Woodley because it was Mossley that navigated the Mariana trench of awfulness in this game. The visitors looked half-decent and if they'd had someone in their ranks who could put the ball in the general vicinity of the goal, they'd be three points better off today. Mossley on the other hand appeared lethargic, lacking in ideas and far from the side that has emerged victorious from most of their games in 2010. Yet unbelievably they still won.

In the midst of incessant use of the long ball (back after a long and welcome absence), the lack of shape and the litany of misplaced passes, our only two shots on target in the entire match both went in giving us a frankly undeserved 2-0 victory. It was such a spectacular mugging that I wouldn't be surprised if the the match highlights featured on next months Crimewatch.

The first goal came half an hour into the fixture when Matty Kay converted a penalty awarded for a foul on Chris McDonagh. The second arrived in the third minute of injury time when Michael Fish exploited the gaps left by defenders pushing forward to score with what turned out to be the last kick of the game. Before and between them though there was nothing that troubled Woodley apart from a Nick Allan shot that flew well wide.

A good side would have made us pay for our mistakes and errors (of which there were many) but thankfully we were playing Woodley and for all their nice build-up play, their previously mentioned inability to put a testing effort on target - including shooting wide of an open goal - meant Mossley could comfortably claim their win.

I know that tiredness was probably a factor in our low-key performance (even though Woodley have played the same number of games as us recently) so fingers crossed that there's some energy in the tanks for the upcoming matches, starting with Radcliffe tomorrow.

When all's said and done though you never complain about a win, no matter how harsh it was on the opposition as after all, other than Woodley's players and supporter - who cares?

A Very Special Delivery

Many moons ago I put on YouTube a video with the question: The world's worst free-kick?

Well it turns out the answer could be "no" as another claimant to that particularly unwanted (at least I hope it's unwanted) title has come to light from foreign shores.

He has a run up like Roberto Carlos, he can bend the ball like Roberto Carlos but sadly for this unfortunate free-kick taker, that is where all similarities between he and the Brazilian full-back end:

Curzon Ashton 2 - 3 Mossley

I know that I'm going to sound like a broken record in saying this but like the previous match against Fylde, don't let the high volume of goals scored convince you into thinking that this was a great game because it wasn't. Tense? Yes. A scintillating display of breathtaking, end-to-end football? No, not really.

Then again 'derby' games very rarely are. Occasionally there’ll be one that transcends all expectations and becomes a match that will be talked about in hushed, reverential tones for seasons to come but this wasn’t one of them.

Not that you’re going to hear any complaints from me though because in fixtures such as these I couldn’t care less if it was the worst game of football that has ever been - or ever likely to be - played on the face of this planet as long as we won. And we did!

It could well be that my less enthusiastic take on proceedings is down in part to the fact that I hate the place where the game as held. As well being a cold place in even the warmest of months, the Tameside Stadium lacks any kind of character or charm. And even though it has been home to a football club for almost five years now, it remains as soulless as it did when the last brick was cemented into position back in 2005.

On top of that there’s the bugbear which I’ve mentioned many times before and I’m about to do so again: the public address system. As well as being at a volume level that makes conversing with the person stood next to you difficult without resorting to yelling at the top of your voice, the choice of music it blares out at uncomfortably high levels beggars any kind of belief whatsoever. If Jedward, the Spice Girls and Gracie Fields were played to other captive audiences at ear splitting levels as they were to us, civil liberty groups would be up in arms.

I’ve no doubt that part of the reason for this happening is a conscious decision to take the attention away from there being no atmosphere at all in the ground. But while it continues it’s hardly likely one is ever going to form. Why cheer the teams onto the pitch or celebrate a goal when you’re being drowned out by Robert Miles or James Brown declaring he feels good over the loud speakers?

And while I’m in full flow on this particular moan, is the fact the club president had friends visiting from Denmark really worth announcing at a tympanic membrane piercing volume not once, not twice but four times? The team line-ups only got a solitary read through.

Anyway, I should probably switch out of rant mode – for my own sanity as much as yours – and start talking about the game itself. Don’t worry either, it won’t take long.

The first chance of any description fell Curzon's way but it was the visitors who did most of the early pressing, assisted ably by the familiar strong wind off the Moss which was blowing on their backs. Their reward was a string of corners that, barring one inswinger which was turned over the bar by keeper Michael Hale, caused little consternation for the blue shirts defending the goal.

The next set-piece from the visitors though caused considerably more trouble. A looping free-kick into the box from Jordan Goodeve was met by the head of Chris McDonagh and the ball rolled slowly over the line after two unsuccessful attempts at preventing it from doing so by Hale failed.

Chris McDonagh celebrates scoring Mossley's opener.

It was a turn of events that wasn’t in the script and it rattled the home side. By just how much was made evident in the games next major talking point. Five minutes after the opening goal, Michael Norton responded to a firm but highly legal tackle from Goodeve with something from the opposite end of that particular scale.

Actually, labelling it a tackle or even an awful challenge applies several coats of whitewash to the truth of what it really was: a cowardly stamp on a prone player’s leg. And not even that comes close to describing the sheer terribleness of a moment which not only put Goodeve out of this game but the rest of the season too.

Thankfully we had something of a novelty for this particular fixture in the football calendar – a strong referee; one who had no qualms in telling the Curzon number nine that his presence was no longer required and thereby introducing us to one of the most pleasing sights in football: Norton marching up the tunnel with a red card being waved in his wake.

It took a while for Mossley to rediscover their rhythm and take advantage of the extra man but everything finally clicked into place again in the 38th minute. A run down the left ended with Michael Fish playing the ball to the feet of Matthew Russell and taking advantage of the acres of space being afforded to him, the former Curzon player rolled the ball gently past Hale.

Goal number two from number two Matthew Russell.

Mossley had already had to start the game with an unfamiliar look to their defence (Andy Russell being the only regular constituent of the Lilywhites back three) and it changed again on the stroke of half time when the replacement for the otherwise disposed Andy Watson - Jonathan Jackson - dislocated his knee cap while tuning awkwardly. His departure from the match meant an in at the deep-end debut for sixteen year old Joel-Bembo Lita and the youngster coped admirably with whatever was thrown at him over the remainder of the match.

It wasn’t completely plain sailing though. In the final few seconds of time added on for the injuries picked up during the opening period, Ajay Leitch Smith halved the arrears for the Blues by capitalising on the indecision in Mossley's back line caused by the enforced reshuffling.

Despite the fresh edge given to the game by the home sides deficit reducer, the game pottered along in an incident-free fashion after the restart; no blood, no thunder, no much of anything of note until the 62nd minute when Mossley restored their two goal lead from the penalty spot. A cross from Lee Blackshaw was prevented from reaching its intended target of McDonagh by the outstretched arm of Phil Edgehill and after a couple of minutes of waiting while a few Curzon players argued the toss with the match official, Matty Kay got to rifle home his 25th goal of the campaign.

Somewhere at the bottom of the pile lies Matty Kay after scoring the penalty.

It should have been the ‘Game Over’ goal but not being a side to do things the easy way, Mossley then conceded a soft free-kick and from it an even softer goal (that Lilywhites speciality - a free header) and what was left of the nerves amongst the travelling fans began to slowly shred, fray and ping into the oblivion of history as the ten men of Curzon began to see more and more of the ball.

Over the twenty or so minutes of the game that were left the home side put their opponents under a considerable amount of pressure; pressure that generated more than a few fraught moments which had the Mossley supporters inside the stadium drawing sharp intakes of breath.

Looking back on that closing period in the cold light of a cold day though, with the three points nestling safely in our season’s tally and away from the anxiety heightened state of supporting a team holding on to a slender one goal lead, Curzon didn't really come that close to rescuing the game. If anything it was the Lilywhites who, while seeing less of the ball, came closest to finding the back of the net again through McDonagh and Fish – which should really be the title of a US television cop show.

The final whistle was greeted, as you would expect, with an audible sigh of relief and a loud appreciation of the sides efforts from the crowd that despite the best efforts of the man with his hand on the volume button, managed to make itself heard above the rendition of “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye” blaring out over the speakers.

The result leaves us with a number of positives. First and foremost it’s another win and another three points. Secondly, it’s a ‘derby’ victory which is something we haven’t seen too much of in recent years and it’s also a stick between the spokes of Curzon's push for a play-off spot which I'm sure you'll agree is adds a nice little garnish to the event.

Finally, even though I did say some hundred or so paragraphs back that it wasn't a good game, considering the number of changes to key personnel that had to be made before and during the match, it was an impressive team performance.

Yes, we did struggle to make the extra man count but that has always been and probably always will be the case; no matter how often the managers and players change our inability to play well against ten men has, along with the white shirts, been the only constant at Seel Park down the years.

For other opinions on what happened there's the official Mossley view here and the similarly official view from the other side here.

If you went to the game it's worth reading the opposition report just to see the amount of whitewash that has been applied to turn what actually happened on Bank Holiday Monday into a tale about poor, hard done to Curzon. The claim that Norton's stamp was somehow accidental is quite phenomenal and as for the penalty being wrong because it came off Edghill's chest... well, why let facts get in the way of a fake story of woe?

According to the official Curzon take on proceedings, this is a ball coming off Edgehill's chest and the reason why it wasn't a penalty. I don't know about you but I feel foolish now because I've spent all my life calling that thing on the the outer end of my arm a hand.

Seriously, the report is the greatest work of fiction since Curzon's financial records between 2005 and 2008. Hopefully for the return fixture next week the Ashton reporter will be at the game and not at the one taking place at the same time in alternate reality as he appears to have been on Monday.

Before I go though could I air this small request to the team? Just once before the season ends, could we possibly have a match where we win in comfort? Where the result is decided without the fear of a late goal changing the outcome? It would be nice and go some way to weaning me off the nerve tablets that all these years of watching Mossley has put me on. It would be appreciated.

Do you remember way back ^ there when I said it wouldn’t take long to talk about the match? Well, er... sorry about that!

Sixteen Long Months Ago, A Few Miles Away...

As we prepare to wend our merry way down to the Tameside wind trap on Ashton Moss to face Curzon, I thought it would be nice to remind ourselves of what happened the last time we were there.

But instead of just providing a link to a report on that particular game (which is here by the way) you can now actually see the defining moment from the game in never before seen video footage. Well you can if you squint.

It's 16:17 on Boxing Day 2008 and Chris Hirst runs on to a through ball from Danny Self...

Mossley 4 - 2 AFC Fylde

I know that is going to seem like I'm being unnecessarily grumpy but despite the large number of goals scored this wasn't a particularly good game.

The ball might have found the back of the net six times but little happened between each of those occasions other than the odd rain shower and the slow, inexorable passing of time.

Not that any of these moans and petty complaints will bother anyone from Mossley much though as in scoring the majority of those six goals they arrested a run of two consecutive defeats with a victory and did so having had to twice come from behind.

Following a ponderous start the game briefly burst into a modicum of life in the 12th minute when Fylde centre half Danny Monkton took full advantage of being left unmarked during a corner kick to head his side in front. The match then returned to being a languid affair until it was Mossley's turn to fleetingly break the tedium midway through the half when Michael Fish put home side back on level terms with a neat near post header from a Steve Settle cross. To 'borrow' a tweet from another Mossley supporter, it had to be Fish on Good Friday. And, of course, a cross too.

As far as noteworthy moments go that was it for the opening period and the prospects for a better second half didn't look good as both teams continued to toil away to little effect immediately after the interval.

Finally though the match developed a pulse – albeit a faint and erratic one – around the hour mark and did so in bizarre circumstances. A rush of blood saw Settle split his own defence wide open with a pass that put Fylde's Michael Barnes clean through on goal and despite having to carry the ball some distance, the visiting number nine kept his nerve to calmly put the ball past the advancing Peter Collinge and his team back in front.

If he'd applied the same assuredness in finishing not soon after it's almost certain he'd have given his side the three points. Instead of doubling his sides advantage though Barnes sent an easier chance bobbling past the upright. It proved to be a costly miss too as less than a minute later their lead was cancelled out for the second time in the match. Chris McDonagh powered through two challenges on a run into the penalty area and after playing a short pass out wide to Settle, the ball was hit low across the face of the six yard box and and tapped home by Matty Kay.

Another five minutes then elapsed before Settle got the opportunity to atone for his error which had given Fylde the lead for the second time when Mossley were awarded, somewhat fortuitously, a free-kick just outside the visitors penalty area. Actually erroneously would probably be a better description given that the only offence that took place, a handball, was committed by a player in a white shirt.

Incorrect decision or not, Settle stepped up and arced a shot around the wall and towards the top corner of the goal which substitute keeper Dave Stevenson did astonishingly well to get a hand on. He only succeeded however in pushing the powerfully struck effort onto the inside of the post, from where it bounced across the line to put Mossley ahead for the first time.

It was a lead that never looked like being lost either as the home side soaked up the pressure being put on them by Fylde with little discomfort. In fact for all the possession the visitors enjoyed in the closing stages of the match, it was Mossley who always looked the side more likely to score next through the pace of their breakaway attacks and that's just what they did with three minutes remaining. Settle cut in from the right wing and hit a shot which took a deflection off a defender and then Matty Kay (who'd began the move three-quarters of the way back up the pitch) to take it past Stevenson and seal the win.

There's no question that Fylde can feel aggrieved to come away from the match empty handed but that's football - sometimes you don't get what you deserve and even the most blinkered Mossley supporter must admit that they at least deserved a point.

Then again, its happened to us so often that it's not funny any more so it's nice to experience the situation from the other side for once and wallow in that warm, comfy and smug feeling it brings.