Dunston UTS 1 - 2 Mossley

Because of a lack of time and anything interesting to say I’ll keep this short: we won and a report on the game can be found here.

Mossley’s reward for overcoming their Northern League opponents, besides the rather handy £4000 in prize money, is yet another away fixture in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup - a trip eastwards to face NCEL side Lincoln Moorlands Railway who sound more like a heritage train line than a football team. Despite being one of the lowest ranked teams left in the competition they aren’t to be taken too lightly having already dispatched a side of equal standing to Mossley in the pyramid to in an earlier round.

Not that we’d ever under estimate them given Mossley’s long and often miserable history in supposed ‘easier’ ties. As always it will be eyes closed, fingers crossed and hope for the best. On the terraces at least... all being well eyes will be open out on the pitch during the match.

Mossley 1 - 2 Trafford

One of the best things about no longer doing the official reports is that I can take my time to compose my thoughts about a game; I'm able to (as Lloyd Grossman used to say) deliberate, cogitate and digest what transpired before offering my considered, if unwanted, opinion. However, as I write, five days after this particular match, I can't come to any conclusion other than that we really were quite a bit poor.

I'll begin though with the positive points that Mossley can take from the game which rather conveniently leads us to the start of the match. With just over ten minutes gone a punched clearance from Trafford keeper Tom Read made its way towards Sam Hare. Following a nice piece of ball control the former Stockport County player... well, you can see for yourself:

Actually, I don't think I should have pluralised the word point in the previous paragraph because after Hare's 25-yard strike it was pretty much downhill for the Lilywhites. Nine minutes and one good save from Jon McIlwaine later, Trafford were level. Mossley's aeons old problem of not being able to defend corners properly allowing centre half Nia Bayunu the time and space just outside the six yard to turn and fire the loose ball into the net.

The closest the Lilywhites came to taking the lead (or even looking like scoring) again came in the 35th minute when Danny Egan headed a Ben Richardson cross against the outside of a post. At the time it looked like a sitter had been missed and there was much muted grumbling, but on second viewing it wasn't the easy chance it had initially appeared due to both the angle and a defender positioned between him and the goal.

There's no question that Mossley should have had a penalty in the opening minute of the second period after Read rugby tackled Mike Fish but, for reasons unknown to everyone other than himself, the referee thought otherwise. And waved away along with the penalty was Mossley's hopes of a place in the next round of the competition. There was the odd bit of pressure on the visitors goal but nothing that raised the expectation levels of the home supporters on the terraces. The report on the Trafford website says that Read performed heroics to keep Mossley at bay but other than a few weak attempts that he didn't even have to dive for (they were more back passes than shots) it's a description that defies some logic.

And if we're going to call bending over occasionally to deal with a bobbling ball heroic, then it's leaves us without a suitable noun to describe his opposite numbers performance at the other end of the pitch because if it hadn't been for some very, very good saves by McIlwaine then the margin of defeat could have been embarrassing.

He didn't have much chance with the goal that put Trafford ahead - a penalty from Scott Barlow after Mossley had decided to end Callum Byrne's lengthy and disturbingly easy run into the penalty area by sending him illegally crashing to the floor. After that though he was the only person who seemed to stand between a one goal defeat and one that made the score Skelmersdale reached in the previous game look narrow.

Over the course of the match, there was some debate as to what the excuse would be if when we lost. In the end it was narrowed down to three possibilities:

  1. "It was an experimental side..." In some respect this is true but in another respect it isn't. The non-experimental side we've employed in league games, with the continual changes of personnel and formation, still resembles a work-in-progress so there isn't much difference between the two. Other than that they both show we're still a long way from turning base metal into something yellow and

  2. "Saving players for Saturday's game in case they get injured..." Which is an idea I can along with. At least I could if it wasn't for the fact that our more consistent and senior players (the ones you'd most expect to be missing for this very reason) were out on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes. The persons rested in case of knocks and niggles were the ones who've been in and out of the side and ones in need of finding some form.

  3. "It's a meaningless cup..." It isn't a meaningless cup. It's the League Cup - the biggest competition we have a reasonably realistic chance of doing well in. Okay, there's not much in it for us financially but a win in any competition breeds confidence and that's something that seems to be in short supply. Of course there's a more important game coming up next in terms of money but we now go into it on the back of two straight defeats and with morale not exactly high. And what if we lose that? Suddenly the League Cup doesn't look quite as meaningless.

Finally, the floodlights. I know I've mentioned them before but they are a problem that requires sorting out. Seriously, something needs doing because there shouldn't be so many dark patches all over the pitch. All it needs is one assistant referee to say that he's having trouble seeing events close to the opposite touchline (and that's not as far fetched as you might think because it's already difficult to make out faces and the numbers on shirts at that distance) and whole can of worms is likely to be opened, starting with a failure to fulfil a fixture. Something is wrong when you can't see who's about to come on as a substitute but you can see the supporter on the terraces behind exploring the contents of his nose with a finger.

Then again, if this performance and the others I've seen this season are what the home fans can expect at Seel Park over the course of the next seven months I'd have no complaints if the dark patches got a lot bigger.

Hopefully though we can bounce back from this defeat and return from our trip to the north east with a place in the next round of the FA Cup secured and a couple of thousand pounds worth of prize money ready to be banked.


Mossley 1 - 4 Skelmersdale United

4:40pm It's 1-1 and the home supporters are hoping that Mossley can hang on for what would be a creditable draw against a good but not spectacular Skelmersdale side.

4:45pm It's 4-1 to a good but not spectacular Skelmersdale side and the home supporters are hoping that their opponents tally won't reach double figures over the course of the five minutes of added on time.

And that is a true story: a possible point turned into what could have been an even heavier defeat within the space of a few minutes. Say what you like about watching Mossley but it's never ever dull. Often miserable yes, but never boring.

There's an argument that a one-all draw would have been a fairer result but you're not going to read a tale of hard done to and unlucky Mossley here. Despite the close nature of the game, the better side won (they were certainly the side in the ascendency over the final third of the match) and though the winning margin may have been a touch flattering, there can be few complaints about it given Mossley's complicity in allowing Skelmersdale to achieve it.

The game wasn’t exactly overflowing with goalmouth action and the few chances that did present themselves were cheaply spurned. A perfect example of which being the first “he should have scored” moment of the match when after being put clean through on goal Mike Coates could only shoot straight at Radcliffe’s onrushing keeper. And he did the same again when presented with a similar gilt edged opportunity in the opening minute of the second period.

In between these “what if?” moments both sides managed to find the back of the net once; the first team to do so being the visitors. There appeared to be little danger for Mossley and as long-time supporters know, that's when the Lilywhites are at their most vulnerable. For a reason that I'm sure will forever go unexplained, Andy Watson gave the ball away under no pressure to Chris Almond who by way of thanks sped past his gift giver and curled an admittedly impressive shot around Peter Collinge and into the goal.

It could have been two moments after the restart as the home side got a severe case of the wobbles but three minutes later they were level. The perseverance of Ben Richardson and the patience of Mike Fish in biding his time to take a shot combined to allow the latter to stroke home an equaliser. A goal caught for posterity below:

At other points in the opening half Ben Richardson fired a free-kick narrowly wide of an upright and Karl O’Donnell did something similar at the opposite end of the pitch following a superb move involving Paul Byrne and constantly dangerous Paul Woolcott.

Over the past few seasons we’ve become used to Mossley starting the second period of games in a subdued manner – as if someone had spiked the half-time oranges with elephant tranquillisers – so it was quite the pleasant surprise to see the Lilywhites come out after the interval like men possessed. Skelmersdale were run ragged as a couple of chances came and went (including the previously mentioned ‘head in hander’ from Oates) in quick succession but sadly the fire in Mossley’s bellies burned brightly for only five minutes, at which point Skelmersdale slowly began to look like the side most likely to bank the three points if destiny had decreed that there was going to be a winner.

It took a fantastic one handed stop from Peter Collinge to stop Almond putting the visitors ahead in the 55th minute and as Mossley's midfield, which had been fading in and out of existence all afternoon, started to spend most of the time in its invisible phase, the ball began to spend a lot more time in the home sides half of the pitch.

The possession Skelmersdale were enjoying wasn’t being turned into too many shots on goal but there was plenty of alarm in the worrying sight of a red shirt or three loitering unmarked in the box at corners and free-kicks. Therefore it came as no surprise when the two problems of a disappearing midfield and slack marking combined to cause an even bigger problem in the 85th minute. The ball was given away in midfield and carried towards the box with little resistance. This was then followed by a slapdash attempt at clearing a cross which allowed Steve Akrigg, one of two United players stood on their own on the edge of the six yard to knock the loose ball home.

One minute later. Another ball given away, another player allowed to run towards goal unimpeded, another player picking the ball up with no-one breathing down his neck and another goal.

Two minutes after that... well, you can see for yourself below:

Of course the last two goals did come in part due to Mossley 'pushing up' in search of an equaliser but they were, the third especially, still avoidable.

I'm not going to do a lengthy inquest on this game because I want to keep my promise of not being too critical this early into the season. Plus I'd only for the most part be repeating the criticisms I put in the report for the Radcliffe game as the same problems still exist. And they’re problems that need addressing and quickly too if we don't want to get dragged into a fight at the foot of the table this early into a new campaign.

It wasn’t all bad though. We managed a few more shots at target than in the previous two home games (note the word at and not on) but Fish’s well taken leveller apart, not one was hit from inside the Skelmersdale penalty area. And that’s not down to something that’s going to be cured simply by a change of luck.

Oh yes, luck. I've heard a few comments that it's the lack of it which is to blame for our points tally currently standing at five out of a possible eighteen. I can accept a chance occurrence accounting for a slipped point here or there but when your six games into a new league campaign and already bemoaned fortune (or rather the lack of it) in four of them, then maybe there are problems fate won’t fix.

It's still early days though and if the occasional flourishes of promise that have been glimpsed in the home league games are nurtured, there's plenty to look forward to. Conversely, well... I don't need to go there do I?

Maybe a victory over Trafford in the League Cup can get us back on track again? Or at the very least somewhere in the vicinity of the track. But then given the recent history between the two sides the only things that are definite are some less than harmonious interactions between supporters and players and the writers cramp the referee will get.

Not to worry though. Even if it comes to the worst and the football is of the kind that makes grown men cry in despair, it's still going to be a better alternative to stopping at home and watching Holby City.

AFC Fylde 0 - 2 Mossley

A 2 - 0 win in a league fixture! Away from home too! I know... wow!

I'm sorry if the incredulity contained in the opening paragraph seems somewhat unsupportive for a supporter but show me a Mossley fan who seriously thought we'd go to Fylde and win and I'll show you someone desperately trying to ignore the fact their leg wear has caught aflame.

This is what constitutes a shock. Mossley, whose league form hasn't been great, beating a side (quite convincingly too by all accounts) who've splashed a considerable sum of cash around on players during the summer might not be a result of David slaying Goliath proportions, but it is a signal to other teams that we may not be quite the pushovers our pre-game league position suggested.

However, the big question is was it a one-off? That one moment in many where fortune chooses to smile on you or is it really the start of better things? The next match should give a pointer to which of the two options is the correct one, especially as it's Skelmersdale who'll be our opponents: a bogey side if ever there was one. Although lets be honest, if you were blindfolded and stuck a pin in the club index of the Non-League Directory, 99 times out of a 100 you'd hit a team who were a bogey side for the Lilywhites.

Back to the game though and the official Mossley report on the game is situated here. The Fylde version of events can be found via this link while you can read the nice things their supporters are saying about the Lilywhites display on their forum here.

Onwards and upwards. Or onwards and downwards... you never can tell with this club.

Glossop North End 0 - 4 Mossley

Other than to criticise the parentage of match officials or pass judgement on their ocular failings, it's rare that the views of opposing supporters on the same game are ever alike.

Looking at various message boards, twitter feeds and reports in the aftermath of this fixture - as well as listening to the thoughts of people who actually ventured to Surrey Street – it appears that this match was the catalyst for one of those rare occurrences where there's a unanimous consensus about this fixture. The agreement being that Glossop were absolutely atrocious.

With not being in attendance myself, it’s impossible to say just how much of North End’s poor showing was down to Mossley just being good. However, no matter how deep the depths of awfulness Glossop plumbed were, the Lilywhites still had to put the ball in the back of the net (although the home side did do it for them to open the scoring for the afternoon). That they did so four times was not only impressive but something of a shock as well to someone who has only seen them manage two shots on target in the 180 minutes of football he’s witnessed so far this season.

Is it a result that will have the knock-on effect of finally kick-starting a faltering league campaign? Time, as always, will tell but with both cash splashing Fylde and bogey side Skelmersdale to come over the course of the next six days, I’m not getting my hopes up too much – if at all.

Anyhoo, if you want to know more about Mossley’s cup victory then reports are available here, here and here. Photos on the other hand can be viewed by following this link and this one
Besides £3,000 in prize money Mossley’s reward for knocking four unanswered goals past Stuart Williams is all the joy of a trip to the North East to face Dunston UTS of the Northern League. Smile though, at least it’s not Esh Winning.

Mossley 1 - 1 Radcliffe Borough

Hold on to your hats readers because I'm about to drop a bombshell. This posting will not contain second hand information of what transpired in a Mossley game but an authentic eye-witness account because I actually attended a game.

You’ve had to pull yourself up off the floor with that little revelation haven’t you?

Yes, for only the second time since April I decided to take up a spot on the terraces at a fixture involving the Lilywhites and for a considerable amount (okay, almost all) of the time I spent standing on those concrete steps I was rueing the wisdom of choosing to do so.

If that last sentence doesn’t provide you with a clue as to what the general tone of the following report may be, it’s at this point, before I get into the meat and bones of this post, that I should perhaps proffer a word of warning. If you're one of those supporters who gets upset at the merest hint of a criticism aimed anywhere within the vicinity of Mossley or annoyed that someone has a view that's not coloured by some rose tinted eye furniture then stop reading now.

Seriously, do something else. Follow this link and watch some cutesy-wutesy kittens because you're not going to like what follows.

I'll wait while you go...




Okay, if you're still here don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm unimpressed. Utterly so. And not just about the football either but it's that which I'll start with.

As Smiffy says in his excellent and much more succinct take on the game on Six Tame Sides, the reports of an improved Mossley performance at Warrington three days earlier weren’t exactly being backed up by everyone who attended that game. However, whether that performance had been given a sugar coating or not, it was still enough to induce a bit of hope in those of us who’d given Cantilever Park a wide berth that we were about to see a better display from the men in white shirts than what we previously may have witnessed; a bit of promise that suggested our league campaign and rise up the table was about to begin.


If you were a Radcliffe fan the game got off to a fantastic start. Not so much if you were watching from a Mossley perspective and watching is the operative word when it comes to describing the Lilywhites part in Borough's third minute opener.

While I admit that I can occasionally be prone to the odd touch of exaggeration, I can say here without a word of a lie that not one player in a white shirt moved as a free-kick was swung into the Mossley box. And motionless they remained as Shaun Connor ran through a crowded area to volley the dropping ball past Peter Collinge; the sound of the small cluster of visiting supporters celebrating drowned out by the noise made by a 100+ pairs of eyes blinking in disbelief at what they’d witnessed.

With their defence and midfield dropping deeper towards their own penalty area after the goal, Radcliffe possibly thought that Mossley were going to come at them all guns blazing in response to the early bruising they’d been dealt. Instead we came at them with a water pistol containing no water.

Mossley’s answer to going behind was non-existent. Barring the occasional glimpse of some nice passing in and around the vicinity of the halfway line, the home team were no threat at all. As a supporter there aren’t many sights in a football match more dispiriting than seeing your team losing and relying on some insanely hopeful pot shots, from a distance no less than 30 yards from goal, to rescue the situation.

Credit is due in part to some impressive work in midfield and defence from the visitors but the home team were hardly helping themselves by showing nothing in the way of invention or nous. With no width at all to the side everything was being channelled down the middle of the pitch to where a lone forward was being marked out of the game by two centre halves. That’s right: at home to a lower table side and needing a win, we were playing with one man upfront. Actually scratch that because there were times we had a no man attack; the designated forward having drifted back past the midfielders in search of a ball he was seeing precious little of.

To be fair I’m sure that the actual formation we were using was 4-3-3 (or a 4-3-2-1) but for the most part it was 4-5 players in the centre circle-1 and the game became stuck in a loop: (1) A nice passing triangle from Mossley on the halfway line, (2) possession surrendered cheaply, (3) Radcliffe clear the danger easily, (4) Go to (1).

And it continued like that well into the second period. Even the introduction of another forward couldn’t instil a bit of variety to Mossley’s approach play, although Radcliffe’s keeper Nick Culkin was finally called on to make a save. It may have been from one of his defenders mishit clearances but we're going to count it as a shot on target for Mossley. Then out of nothing the home side were level with a goal richly deserving of being scored in a better game. Substitute Mike Fish received the ball on the corner of the Radcliffe box and on let fly on the half-volley with a looping effort which dropped over Culkin and into the net.

If Michael Oates hadn't scooped the ball over the crossbar moments later, after the Borough keeper had spilled a speculative effort from distance directly into his path, then there'd have been a goodly number of delightfully flabbergasted and happy people within Seel Park. Instead they just became frustrated as the promise of a great comeback was derailed by going back again to funnelling every attack we had down the middle of the pitch.

This was good news for Radcliffe who were starting to look a little ragged for the first time, but now they could get back to doing what they’d done so well for the first hour and a bit of the game: stifling Mossley and forcing them into errors before attempting to launch a counter attack. And with this approach they nearly snatched a victory in the dying embers of the game; Peter Collinge doing extremely well to tip a swerving, dipping, something else ending in -ing shot from a Borough substitute to safety.

Even though we probably had the lion’s share of possession over the course of the ninety minutes, it definitely feels like that it was a fortunate point won rather than two lost thanks to one moment of individual brilliance.

As my attendance at games has been sparse this season, the only frame of reference I have to judge this Mossley performance against is their display at home to Bamber Bridge last month and it’s a tad concerning because I couldn’t see any improvement whatsoever. If anything there were a few more causes for alarm to add to the list. Being determined though to live up to my promise not to be too critical so early into the new campaign, I shall forego expanding on that inventory of worries for now in the hope that what’s happening is still nothing more than teething trouble for a new team and management.

Having a winger on the pitch could improve things immeasurably. Although to be fair we might be using them now – it’s just that nobody can pick them out at night, which leads me on to something else I wasn’t overly enamoured with: the new floodlights.

I don't know what it was like on the Main Stand side of the ground but from the Hanover Street side it was difficult at times to make out who the players were on the opposite side of the pitch. Not only because of the dark patches in various areas but because of the shadows the lighting caused – leaving players on occasions looking like silhouettes (at some point over the next few days there'll hopefully be a few photos to illustrate some of these points).

I’ve no doubt that this is due to the way each of the individual lights has been angled (a number of them seem to be positioned almost directly downwards rather than out across the playing surface) and if this is indeed the case it should be an easy enough problem to rectify. If it isn’t the case then… well, it doesn’t really bear thinking about.

Finally (there is actually a finally), music was played over the PA system when Mossley scored. To borrow some internet terminology all the kids seem to be using: WTF?

Goal music is a tacky and embarrassing intrusion on the game and there’s a reason why we’ve ridiculed its use at Curzon Ashton for years: because it’s pitiable and not because we were trying to disguise feelings of jealousy at not having it ourselves. Hopefully it’s just a one-off. If it isn’t then our lack of an effective attack could have a silver lining after all.

Fingers crossed for better (and brighter) things soon or else more postings like this are going to make people think of me as the quite the grumpy pants.

Warrington Town 1 - 1 Mossley

National Non-League Day and I as a non-league fan wasn't at a non-league game. The shame of it, eh?

I had given some consideration to turning up at the Tameside Stadium to see hosts Curzon take on Witton Albion in the Evo-stik League. However, after mulling over the pros and cons of attending for, ooooh, about six seconds, I decided to stop at home and try to finish off Assassin's Creed II on the X-Box while listening to Tameside Radio's Saturday Sports Show.

And what a wise decision that turned out to be as not only did I finally manage to finish wandering around renaissance Italy on my games console, I also avoided a match of unbearable awfulness on Ashton Moss; 90 minutes of soul destroying football that has been lovingly documented for the ages at Beat The First Man.

Not so wise was my choice of programme to listen to on the wireless as for a sports show there was precious little in the way of sport on it. I'm not going to be too critical about it here as the lack of updates from any local games other than the ones involving Stalybridge and Hyde may just have been a one-off. Yes, there were half-time mini-reports from the Curzon and Mossley matches but there were no full-time updates and if you wanted to know the results of any game not involving Hyde or 'Bridge you had to wait till 5:45pm (an hour after the scheduled finish of the matches) to hear them.

Like I say though, it will require another listen to see if this is normal practise and I can't say it's something I'm particularly looking forward to. The thought of possibly spending another tortuous eight minutes listening to two Wet Wet Wet songs played back to back in the hope of hearing a scoreline sends quite a chill shuddering through the bones.

Oh! Mossley's match - I very nearly forgot. It was a one all draw which means the Lilywhites finally get their first point of the season and you can read about the game here. Be warned though as it does contain another tale of fluffed chances and points dropped.

Mossley 2 - 0 Witton Albion

The first goals of the new season and, thanks to not conceding any, it's Mossley's first victory of the season too.

First of all apologies for the late appearance of this little links post which was down to me completely forgetting about the game. And it's that little confession which should give you a clue to the fact that I wasn't in attendance.

Instead I was four miles away at the Tameside Stadium where Curzon Ashton were facing Congleton in the FA Cup. Before the 'real supporter' brigade start to get on their high horses (not that I care much if they do as I find it rather amusing), I didn't see any of that match either. Well, there was the occasional glimpse of the ball passing the half way line but that's all I ever saw from my vantage point within the club's function room where I was attending a wedding reception. A lovely 'do' it was too.

Anyway, back to Mossley and if you wish to know what happened in order to put the team into the next round of the FA Cup then head to Mossleyweb and Six Tame Sides. You can also visit the Witton site to see what they say if you so desire. That said, given how long this has taken to appear you've probably been and visited those three places already.

So, as an alternative, why not hop along to Up For The Cup, a blog dedicated the early rounds of the FA Cup, where you'll find a very nice piece about the game.

Mossley's reward for this victory is a short (or depending on the traffic, horrendously long) trip to the High Peaks to face Glossop North End which, given our past meetings, has all the hallmarks of being a potential banana skin. What am I saying, you can probably remove the word potential from that last sentence.

I can't finish this piece though without mentioning the following posting by eligorton which appeared on the Witton Albion forum in the week leading up to the cup fixture with Mossley:

Important game this one. Should be a piece of p*ss,Mossley have had an awful start to the season,no goals scored and a shed full against.

Hubris - the gift that keeps on giving.