Clitheroe 5 - 0 Mossley

I have to be truthful and say that I wasn't expecting Mossley to pick up a win at Clitheroe's Shawbridge ground. And to continue in this vein of honesty I’ve got to confess that I wasn't even expecting a draw either. That leaves only one option and yes, I'm afraid to say it but I was expecting us to lose. In my defence though I didn’t suspect we’d lose quite as badly as we appear to have done.

I appreciate that the above may well look like an exercise in being clever with the benefit of hindsight so I should probably try and describe the thought process which led me to such a conclusion. Unfortunately that’s not going to be easy because it would mean doing something I said I wouldn’t for a month or two. Allow me to explain.

While there were positive aspects about Mossley's performance on Saturday, there were a number of worries too and it’s these hmm's I mentioned in the Bamber Bridge report (or rather the hmm’s I made a point of not mentioning) that I thought a good Clitheroe side would be able to exploit. Of course, with not being at the game I have no idea at all if it was these concerns which ultimately led to the considerable pasting we received (or even if some new ‘hmm’s’ have cropped up) but the result is still the same: a heavy and somewhat embarrassing defeat.

All the grim details of Mossley’s night to forget are on Mossleyweb if you want to know precisely what happened.

The official report is in itself a cause for some alarm. Having done them for the previous three seasons I know that the recollection of events they contain will always tend to be a little rosier than yours, especially after a pretty dismal result and performance. Bad luck will have always played a part, along with poor officiating, and it will never be made to seem as bad as it may have appeared; it’s the literary equivalent of smearing of Vaseline on a camera lens to beautify something with a soft-focus. And if that's still the case this year you've got to wonder how bad things actually were when it contains comments such as:

Instead of rolling up their sleeves and showing the fighting spirit that had carried them through the latter half of last season ... they instead showed their collective bellies, rolled over and died

this result and the manner in which it came, with the talent available in the current squad, is quite simply unacceptable

I got slated and labelled not a true supporter when I classed a non-performance in a 4-1 defeat as 'bobbins' last year so goodness knows how uppity the same people are going to get this time round having read that.

Even though we’re just four days into the new season and already six points and sixteen goals behind the team at the top, there’s no point in panicking yet. It’s still a new side and a new management team so it’s going to take a bit more than 180 minutes of competitive football for them to find their feet.

Hopefully not that much more though!

Mossley 0 - 1 Bamber Bridge

Having not been to any of the pre-season fixtures I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this opening match. The reports I've read on the friendlies have by and large been positive but one thing all seasoned football supporters know is that friendlies are no indication at all as to what may happen once the bread and butter matches begin.

I doubt there's a club anywhere that doesn't have one highly successful set of pre-season fixtures thats been followed by a league and cup campaign that wouldn't do the term 'woefully abject' justice. And lets face it, Mossley are a club that have had more than just the one.

I'm happy to say though that on this viewing I can see why people were enthused by the displays witnessed over the past month. It's wasn't perfect – and given it's the first match of the season I wasn't expecting it to be – but there was plenty on show to be optimistic about. Conversely however there were things, as C+C Music Factory once put it, to make you go hmmm.

My first thought about Mossley as the two teams lined up for the still pointless pre-match handshaking was how small a side they are. I honestly can't remember a home starting XI at Seel Park as diminutive as this one. More Lilliputians than Lilywhites. And it's impossible to argue that this difference in stature between the two teams didn't play a part in the opening (and only) goal as Michael White barely had to get his feet off the ground to out jump the few defenders in the six yard box and head his side into the lead. The ball hit back of the net in the tenth minute and even at that early stage of the game it was a goal that had been coming.

The match was only four minutes old when Peter Collinge was forced into making an extremely good save to deny Kevin Towey, but the keeper could only stand and watch as Paul Lloyd poked the ball inches wide of the post and his own team mate Aaron Chalmers scrape the top of the crossbar with a wayward header.

There was the merest glimmer of a way back into the game for the home side when Mike Fish capitalised on Luke Atherton's inability to deal with a long ball, forcing Ben Hinchcliffe into making his first save of the afternoon. Sadly however it was to be a rare sighting of the Brig goal.

To say Mossley were under the cosh would be overstating things a little but the Preston based side looked like scoring every time they ventured forward. A reshuffle after half an hour though finally saw Mossley's defence start to... well, look like a defence (mainly due to the fact that there was finally someone on the left side of midfield to give the full back some protection) and they began to enjoy a little more possession than they'd previously been afforded.

Unfortunately though this extra time on the ball was culminating in nothing more than a few crosses into the box which were practice catches for Brig keeper. He was eventually made to work for his corn five minutes from the interval when two Bridge defenders produced a master class in how not to clear your lines when under pressure and played the ball into the path of Steve Settle. His first time shot was probably a little closer to Hinchcliffe than he'd have like it to have been but the keeper still had to produce a fantastic stop to prevent it from levelling the score.

Whether it was thorough the visitors deciding to sit back or Mossley finally hitting their stride, after the break the Lilywhites dominated the lions share of the possession. That's no hyperbole either, they controlled the game and in doing so put together some very nice moves. The down side is that as attractive as their style of play was, it was mostly for nought as time and again it fell apart in the final third of the pitch. A combination of a packed defence and taking an extra touch or three when was none was needed ensured that Hinchcliffe wasn't forced into more heroics. He probably should have been called on to do something, even if it only to pick the ball out of the net, when Andy Watson was left with a free header on the edge of the six yard box but the centre half could only send the ball looping high over the cross bar.

Mossley's cause wasn't being helped by their seeming reluctance to use the width of the pitch as most of their attacking play was being directed down the middle and straight into a barricade of red shirts. The introduction of Osebi Abadaki added a much needed bit of flair and invention into the Lilywhites attacks and the ball finally began to work it's way towards the huge gaps down both flanks.

Unfortunately though the problems with differences in height came into play again as anything other than a low cutback from the byline was comfortably dealt with by the Brig defence. So despite spending almost the entirety of the last half hour of the match with the ball at their feet in the oppositions half of the pitch, all Mossley had to show for their efforts were two shots which drifted past the post from 83rd minute substitute Michael Oates.

If you wish to see some of those misses - near and not so near - then you can by clicking play on the video below. And yes, widescreen! Ooooo...

If football was based on all things being fair then both sides would have had a point each from this game and both would have probably been reasonably happy with it. Neither side deserved to win in the same way neither deserved to lose but lose we did and that's the game; sometimes you don't get what's merited. On the other hand though I'm sure – nay, certain - that over the coming months there'll be more than a few occasions where we'll get more than we should have done out of the game. It's why we love and hate the sport in equal measure.

Looking at Mossley with an optimistic frame of mind, there's plenty to be hopeful about. As a reasonably new side they're only going to get better (please don't let that sentence come back and haunt me) as the team begin to gel and the starting XI becomes more settled. The fact that the team were always looking for the opportunity to play along the floor instead of aimlessly lumping it in the general direction of the opposing goalkeeper bodes well too.

Viewing things from a not quite rose-tinted perspective can wait a while though. It's the first match of a new season, with a new management team and a lot of new players so there are going to be teething troubles and it would be churlish to highlight them now. If they're still making us go hmmm in a few months then some thinking aloud may be done but until then (if there is to be a then) it's time to sit or stand back and watch what could be the beginning of something special.

Or it might not... I don't want to tempt fate this early into a new season!

Gearing Up & Slowing Down

Ladies and gentlemen. Madames et monsieurs. Damen und herren... it's that time of the year again: the start of a new season.

Unless of course that is you support a club in something other than the Evo-Stik or Zamaretto league's because your season began at the very least a week ago. If so the optimism a fresh campaign brings may have already been replaced by the gnawing sensation in the pit of your stomach that your weekends are continually going to be ruined over the coming months by a squad of players whose sole ambition in football is to rise to a level where they're only described as inept.

But this isn't a posting that's going to be about hopes and dreams. It's about something else entirely.

The few remaining regular visitors to this dark corner of the world wide web won’t have failed to notice the lack of reports during the recent spell of friendlies and I'm sorry to say it's a situation that's not going to change much over the course of the coming season. There will still be the odd musings on what went on at matches, just not as many of them as there has been in the past.

I started the blog because writing about Mossley and the football world the club inhabited was fun. For a multitude of reasons though - none being any greater than the other - that is no longer the case. Some of them I'll explain, others I won't.

Detailing the on and, at times, off pitch events at Seel Park has become a chore and looking back over what I've written during the course of the past six to twelve months it shows: as my apathy has grown, the standard of my writing (not that I'm big-headed enough to believe it was great in the first place) has dropped. It could turn out that the decision to cut back on postings may get the creative juices flowing once more, making the staid run through of games which have cluttered the blog lately a thing of the past. Or it may not. Only the future knows for certain.

I appreciate that some of you may be thinking that's a sorry excuse for not doing match reports but there are other factors involved as well as I've previously mentioned. Such as it's hard to write about games when you're not there to see them and this season I won't be at as many of them as I've been in the past.

For years Mossley AFC (and I'm fully aware of how sad this confession may – nay, will – make me sound) has always seemed to come first in my life. Anything I did would be based around whether or not the team was playing and if there was a chance I could make it to the game. It’s time though other things started to take a priority, not least my health which I've neglected on far too many occasions over the last few years in the pursuit of seeing a game of football. A President's Cup fixture on a cold winter's night is no longer worth the three or four days of acute back pain it has previously caused.

And those are just a couple of the reasons why. As I said there earlier there are more but I have neither the time nor indeed the inclination to share them here.

Maybe taking a step back will allow me to rediscover my love of the game and, more importantly, watching Mossley. I want to recapture the excitement I once had when I stood on the terraces; I want to go back to enjoying matches again and maybe something as simple as being nothing more than a fan, rather than a real supporter, will allow me to do just that.

Like I said though the blog will continue to tick over with the odd report on home games, as well as the occasional video or two (it's not being mothballed completely) so there's still a reason for popping by occasionally. Maybe just not quite as often as you may have done in the past!

Anyhoo, I'll end by going off on a complete tangent and wishing the players and management of the Lilywhites a successful season. If and when a full and normal service resumes on here I hope it's to help document one of those all too rare successful periods in Mossley's history.

Mossley 1 - 2 FC United of Manchester

Another pre-season friendly – the last one in fact – and another game I didn’t attend which means another post consisting of links to the web pages of people who did.

First of all the Mossley view on proceedings and off to Mossleyweb and Six Tame Sides you must head for those. If you wish to read the review of what transpired from the opposition’s perspective, one click here will lead you to it.

And that's the phoney war out of the way with. Three wins, two draws and two defeats which isn't too bad a record for a pre-season campaign. As every level-headed football supporter knows though, the results of these matches mean the diddly of squat when it comes to giving indications on how the actual coming league campaign may play out. So it's time for a sharp intake of breath, some hoping for the best and to eight months of ups and downs we now go.

Finally though, after its lackadaisical approach to the friendlies, will this blog’s normal match reporting service be resumed for the first game of the season this coming Saturday? I’ve absolutely no idea at the moment and that’s the very honest truth.

Mossley 3 - 2 Hyde

I know it’s a week late (consider this a sneak preview of what to expect with the blog this coming season) but if you’ve been on tenterhooks as to how Mossley got on against Hyde FC then prepare to unhook those tenters.

Because I’m settling rather comfortably into the role of not being ‘a real supporter’, my presence at this game was similar to all the other fixtures Mossley have played this pre-season: elsewhere; a situation which means that once again I can provide you with nothing more than a series of links that will take you to the thoughts and opinions of people who were bothered enough to turn up. So, and without further ado, click here, here and here.

What can we read into the result? Well, because it’s pre-season absolutely nothing as these fixtures are the epitome of pointlessness when it comes to judging what may or may not happen over the coming eight or so months. However, that hasn’t stopped some Chorley fans declaring a pre-season victory over Hyde a sign that they’re going to win the league. If such a victory is an omen (don’t laugh, they may be right!) it looks like we could be adding silver polish to the clubs shopping list come April time.

And yes, it does appear those Magpie fans are being serious as it’s the latest in a long list of comments on that forum which suggest Chorley are going to fill the ‘arrogant and annoying supporters’ vacuum left in the wake of Halifax’s promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier. Which is awfully nice of them.

That Was The Week That Was

Apologies for the appropriation of a familiar title to headline this post but the alternative - a lengthy roll call of team names - would be quite cumbersome.

Having not attended any of the friendly games this season it’s somewhat difficult to write about what happened in those matches other than to just recite the score line. The internet being what it is though, I can do a run through of Mossley AFC’s on-field activities over the past week via links to pages written by people who don’t share my current apathy towards football and actually saw the games in question.

July 24th saw Welsh Premier League side Bala Town make their first (and given that they lost, possibly last) trip to Seel Park. Details of Mossley’s 3-1 win can be read about here, photographs of the game are on Six Tame Sides and if you look at Bala’s official site you’ll find it wasn’t worth bothering.

20 miles away on the same day Mossley’s shiny new reserve team were playing at Bacup Borough where they lost 2-0 to their Vodkat League hosts. Should you wish to know more about what happened, follow this link and scroll down the page a bit. If you’re reading this a good while after the post date that’s under the main heading, scroll down the page a lot. And if you’re reading this a few months from now, be prepared for there being nothing there at all.

Last Tuesday saw Droylsden make the short trip across Tameside and just as they did in pre-season last year, they left Seel Park with a win, albeit a much narrower one. Reports on the 1-0 reversal are here and here. But not here.

Saturday saw Mossley pick up their first trophy of the season (he said hopeful of more) at Hurst Cross in the shape of the Willow Wood Hospice Cup. A collection of words about the Lilywhites’ penalty shout out victory can be viewed on Mossleyweb and Six Tame Sides, while video footage of various incidents in the game lives here.

The reserves meanwhile were registering a 2-0 win at Cheadle Town and details of this fixture are available for your perusal on a Town supporter’s blog.

The next instalment of Mossley’s pre-season campaign is a meeting with Hyde this coming Tuesday (03/08) at Seel Park. I won’t be there to see what transpires (apathy it turns out is fantastically addictive) but I’m sure someone will and hopefully there’ll be a link or two to their thoughts and opinions on here some time later in the week.