Mossley 2 - 4 Lancaster City

It's starting to feel like I'm stuck in a Groundhog Day style time loop when it comes to watching and writing about Mossley.

Dominating possession - ✔. A not overly exerted opposing goalkeeper - ✔. An over-abundance of attacks consisting of a short sequence of passes followed by a lumping the ball down the centre of the pitch - ✔. Calamitous, laugh or you'll cry defending - ✔. The opposition registering a win without having to break too much of a sweat - ✔. Leaving at the end wondering if it is going to start getting better any time soon - ✔. Looking at the fixture list and coming to the conclusion that it probably won't - ✔.

The only way I know for certain that I'm not reliving the same ninety minutes over and over again is the steadily decreasing temperature and the changing colour of the opposition's shirts.

We did get something a little bit different though. For a while it appeared that the one notable event in the first half would be Daryl Weston managing to get the ball through the window of the tea bar, which if you know the geography of Seel Park is quite some achievement. Sadly, by the time it came for the teams to leave the pitch for the break the majority of people inside the ground were wishing that the sight of pies, peas and gravy being sent flying had been the only incident worth talking about.

As a Lancaster fan on their own club forum has so accurately put it, the visitors only really played for a total of 15 minutes which straddled the interval and they left with three points. Before they took a 42nd minute lead the Dolly Blues had spent the majority of the game in their own half of the pitch, dealing comfortably with Mossley's laboured efforts to create something with all the possession they were being allowed and looking to hit the home side on the break.

And it was from one of these counter attacks that they scored the opening goal and what a goal it was. A brilliant piece of individual skill from Josh Kenworthy to take two players out of the game was supplemented by an equally impressive bit of teamwork which opened up a space for Max Rothwell to launch an unstoppable shot past Peter Collinge. It was a goal of such quality (and one that my description goes nowhere close to doing it justice) that you couldn't put any blame on Mossley for conceding. If only I could say the same for the three that followed.

It's only fair though that the midfield shoulder some of the blame for the second goal too as it was in their area of the pitch, deep into injury time at the end of the first period, that the ball was lost in a surprisingly cheap fashion. City broke upfield and despite Paul Jarvis horrifically mis-controlling a cross that was played into him on the edge of the six yard box, the lack of any close marking whatsoever meant he had time to chase the loose ball down and finally get it under control before putting his side two ahead. Two then became three ten minutes after the restart when Kenworthy took the ball off Ben Richardson and calmly slotted it past Collinge.

Going three goals down seemed to spark Mossley into taking control of the game once again (though it could be argued that the resurgence was due in part to Lancaster sitting back on their near unassailable lead as well) but not for the first time a lack of guile and incisiveness at the business end of the pitch meant they were confined to shooting from distance.

Yet it was from one of these slightly hopeful long range efforts that Mossley pulled a goal back. The ball from a Lilywhites corner wended its way to Mike Fish on the corner of the Lancaster box and with the aid of a slight deflection he curled a shot into the net to give the home side the glimmer of hope of a comeback.

It was enough of a flicker to increase the rate of huffing and puffing from the men in white shirts but the chances needed to realise that recovery were few to non-existent and any optimism left was extinguished five minutes from time. Once again the misery was self-inflicted. Cavell Coo played an ill-advised and misdirected pass across the back line which gave Rothwell the chance to break clear and register his second and Lancaster’s fourth goal of the match. The afternoon’s scoring still wasn’t completed though and in injury time Michael Thomas added a bit of respectability to the score line with an absolute humdinger of a shot from 25 yards out

Not bad for a centre half, eh?

In some respects the final score is harsh on a team that controlled so much of the game but matches aren’t won by finishing having had a greater share of the possession. If it was there’d certainly be more than four teams between us and the bottom of the table which is how it stands at the moment.

What has let us down on this and umpteen other occasions so far this season is our inability to do the fundamental basics of the game properly: attack and defend. Rather worryingly too we don’t seem any closer than we were back in August to rectifying the situation. It doesn’t matter how many times the personnel changes (and with around forty players used they’ve changed quite a lot) the same problems continue to exist.

And while they do that Groundhog Day feeling will go on, and on, and on...