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!