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.



Mike Smith said...
8:30 pm

Can't help but agree about the floodlights Stephen - they need some serious re-aligning as - selfishly speaking - they're giving me nightmares (in a "snapper" kind of way)- like you say, it can't be easy for the officials either ...