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!