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.


nick said...
10:27 am

Wow, 3 goals in 5 minutes, that is quite exceptional and as you say, certainly exciting (even if it was a bit upsetting too!)

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