Leigh Genesis 1 - 3 Mossley

No wins for two months then two turn up one after the other.

Resisting any urge to make the expected reference to buses I'm instead going to direct you towards a couple of reports that detail the latest chapter of Mossley's incredible turnaround in form since the temporary appointment of Gareth McClelland. The first is the official Lilywhites one while the other is the match as seen from a Leigh perspective.

The victory means it's now four games unbeaten for the Lilywhites since McClelland took charge. While it's not uncommon for teams to undergo an upturn in fortunes when a new manager comes in you have to wonder, especially as a Mossley supporter, what McCLelland is doing so differently to get improved performances out of the same players who, less than a month ago, couldn't make five yard passes to one another without having to have a small group of fluorescent bib wearing boys racing out of the ground to retrieve the ball.

Even if this turnaround in Mossley's form turns out only to be fleeting it has at the very least given us something to be reasonably cheerful about before we head off in to summer and that doesn't happen too often at Seel Park.

Prescot Cables 1 - 5 Mossley

Mossley's record sixteen game run without a win in 1992/93 that I mentioned in the last report came to an end in a spectacular fashion with the Lilywhites notching up a quite staggering 5-0 victory against Whitley Bay at Seel park. I mean, if you're going to end a barren spell then what better way to do it than by scoring five?

Eighteen long, long, long years on and with 2010/11 version of the Lilywhites edging ever closer to matching the win-free sequence set by their early 90's alumni, they echoed their predecessors by surprising everyone with a five goal dismantling of a hapless set of opponents. Or Prescot Cables as they were known on this day. I'd write more about this momentous event but as a) I wasn't at the game and b) I'm still in a state of shock I shall instead point you in the direction of the official match report.

Hopefully that's where the similarities between the Mossley side of now and the one of almost two decades past will end because that win against Whitley Bay turned out to be the last highpoint for... oh, for the sake of brevity, let's just say years.

Bamber Bridge 2 - 2 Mossley

A point at Irongate means that Mossley's unbeaten run now stretches to an almost reality defying two games; a simple feat that looked ridiculously unlikely as recently as a fortnight ago. On the downside though a draw means the Lilywhites current sequence of games without a victory now stands just three short of the record set in the 1992/93 season when they went through sixteen matches and three managers without winning.

Back on the upside of things however there's a good reason to be positive as this was a point that not even the most optimistic of Mossley supporters would have expected. It appears to have had some fortuity about it as accounts on the game paint Mossley's goal as having lead a charmed life, especially in the opening period. Still it's nice to be able to say that a draw was lucky rather than thanking good fortune for only losing by two or three goals as we have been doing in recent weeks.

If you wish to peruse a more detailed record of what went on during this game then I have no hesitancy in pointing you towards Bridge's rather splendid Brigcast service which not only provides live match updates but allows those not at the game to feel part of proceedings. So click here to read a minute-by-minute account of the near misses, the goals and the messages of increasing disbelief from Mossley fans as the Lilywhites raced into a two goal lead.

Mossley 0 - 0 Woodley Sports

Before I got round to writing about this match I was intending to impart with some words on the recent departure of manager Shaun Higgins, his role being filled in caretaker capacity by Gareth McClelland and the youth team's victory in the Manchester FA Youth Cup final. All of which seemed to have happened in the space of six hours on the 7th of this month.

Time and other more important matters however dictate that there's not going to be a lengthy essay on the latest spin of the revolving door that constitutes the entrance to the manager's office at Seel Park. What I will say though is that no matter what the mitigating circumstances may be - financial restrictions, personality clashes, the learning process, etc. - you'd be hard pushed to find a club at a level above park football who would still employ a manager whose picked up only one point in eleven games. A quarter of a season's worth of league fixtures in which the only bright spot was a solitary draw. No manager goes out to deliberately lose games though (at least not until they put me in charge at Manchester United) so commiserations to Mr Higgins on his spell in charge not working out. Thank you but it wasn't meant to be.

The king is dead, long live the new king who turns out to be Gareth McClelland, latterly scout at Chester and someone who has already appeared unnamed on this blog very recently. His instalation in the Mossley managerial ejector seat is only temporary but if he does well over the seven remaining games this season then there's little chance that the job won't be his on a more permanent basis. Well, the Mossley definition of permanent anyway which is between eight to fourteen months.

The new man's only previous experience in a managerial capacity at a non-league club was a few months spent at Woodley Sports last season and it was against his ex-charges that he took up the reins at Seel Park. To add an even keener edge to the game his opposite number in the away dugout was former Mossley manager Chris Willcock, facing his old club for the first time since resigning a year earlier to take up what turned out to be a very short lived spell as assistant manager at Stalybridge Celtic. Coupled with the large number of players in both sides who were facing a team they'd once turned out for, the game had the makings of being a potential humdinger; a blood and guts thriller of a derby with all but a handful of the people on show with points to prove. Potential however eventually gives way to reality and as always it can never match up.

The match was awful. Indescribably so.

Woodley had a shot in the 1st minute, Mossley had one in the 70th and nothing of any note happened on the pitch in-between or after. And boy, do I wish that I was exaggerating for comedic effect.

It was the football equivalent of the test card. Ninety minutes of pure beige. A glance around the terraces at the 80 minute mark (a time during a 0-0 game when tensions should be in the process of being stretched to a highly pitched twanging point) saw people just sat on the terraces chatting, reading the programme, playing with their phones... anything but watch the match and you really couldn't blame them.

It means that the sole positive to come out of the afternoon is that Mossley arrested their losing streak, which as consolations go isn't such a bad one but it would have been nice to have done it in a slightly more interesting fashion. Still, from such tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow and who knows where this match of mind-numbing, string-of-defeat ending banality will eventually lead us? And yes, I'm well aware of how thin that straw is I'm clutching at.

Oh, I almost forgot the Youth Cup final that I mentioned in the opening paragraph. I don't have the time at the moment but there'll be more on that, even if it's only a video, at a later - probably a much, much later - date.

Mossley 1 - 3 Salford City

We lost. Again.

I'd like to bring you details on the game but... actually, I don't. The truth is that other than the names of the goalscorers there's nothing I could write that wouldn't be a repetition of something that appeared any of the other reports I've done this season: lousy defending, no creativity, an under worked opposition goalkeeper and an overworked chap between our posts were all in evidence again. There's no fresh angle at all to approach this game from in order to produce a few paragraphs that are both informative and worth reading. I've said this before too but it is like Groundhog Day. Except rather than focus on the film's theme of learning from mistakes it's almost as if the Lilywhites have not watched beyond the sequence where Bill Murray's character uses a number of different ways to commit suicide.

To put it simply the football being produced at Seel Park by the home team is enthusiasm sapping stuff. It's crowd sapping stuff too as without the attendance of numerous neutrals, players from other local clubs and a hardy band of Salford followers the gate for this game would have been well, well below the three figure mark. And that more than anything at a club which has retained a reasonable level of support through some incredibly thin times over the last two decades, is the biggest indictment of the current situation. If it has reached a stage where supporter's who've tolerated some spectacularly awful crap down the years have had enough then you have to do something before you lose them forever to Saturday afternoon trips to Tesco.

I don't usually do this for home games but seeing as I don't have the brio to provide you with a narrative of this games events I'll point you in the direction of a few people who do. If you want the official Mossley version then click here or if you fancy an opposing view proceedings you can visit this or that.

As for me, I'm off to lie in a darkened room and think of a reason why I should attend the weekend's game with Woodley other than misplaced sense of loyalty and even more wildly misplaced sense of hope.

Mossley 0 - 1 Chester

In an attempt to provide a positive spin on this latest instalment of the Mossley's Wile E. Coyote-esque plummet down the Evo-Stik First Division North table, I'm going to quote a posting made by 'Pirate' on the unofficial club forum: "At least it wasn't a total embarrassment." It's a comment which also shows you just how bad things are when simply being just common or garden embarrassing is considered an improvement.

With my tongue so firmly lodged in my cheek that it almost pierced the flesh, I said in the report for the recent home game against Durham that Chester could beat us with five men. It turns out however that reality is closer to some facetious fiction than I imagined as the Cestrians didn't need a full compliment of players to beat us. Okay, it was with one less player rather than six but you couldn't escape the feeling that the visitors could have afforded to lose one or two more bodies before the disparity in numbers started to become a problem for them.

Chester spent the best part of 70 minutes at a numerical disadvantage - the result of an instant red card for a two-footed lunge by Iain Howard - and the amount of times they looked troubled or stretched can be counted on the digits of a hand containing one finger. That solitary occasion of mild worry for the visitors came in the closing stages of the game when substitute Chris Hall had a header from a corner cleared nonchalantly off the line by a defender stood by the post.

That we were still in a position to have grabbed an equaliser was mostly down to goalkeeper Peter Collinge who kept up his late season push for the Player of the Year award by once again being the only barrier between the opposition and a ridiculously heavy defeat. He was beaten once though in the 56th minute, let down by some customary static defending by his team mates after making a good save and you can see it for yourself here:

Chester weren't brilliant but then they didn't have to be. I know some home fans were so nonplussed by their performance, especially before the sending off, that they couldn't believe they were favourites for the league title but to those people I say two things. Firstly, you can't judge a side off one isolated game; it took us at least three to realise that we were this bad and not just experiencing a blip. Secondly, do you not remember how bad we were in the second half of that season five years ago when we won this league?

And while we're on the subject of Chester, compared to the fans of the last club who'd been sent to the lower reaches of the football pyramid that last visited us: a class above. With one exception, maybe.

I've a feeling I may have mentioned this before in a recent report (so apologies if I have) but it's something that does bear worth repeating: the only ray of light poking through the gathering storm clouds with the current Mossley games is that each one is match closer to the welcoming embrace of the end of the season.

At the same time though it's also worryingly one match closer to the foot of the table. While the chances of us finishing in the bottom two are near non-existent barring the sudden discovery that we've fielded half a dozen ineligible players in a few games, the likelihood that we could occupy 21st place in the division come the end of the season is a very real one. We now only sit four points above the current occupiers of that spot, when not so many weeks ago there were eleven points between us.

And that's would be a grim note to end on if I hadn't just thought of one genuine positive that pokes through the ashes of this the game and that's... nope, it's gone. Oh well.

Durham City 3 - 2 Mossley

A week may have passed, the location may be different but the outcome has a depressingly familiar ring to it.

Seven days after they'd journeyed to Seel Park and picked up a comfortable 2-0 win, Durham claimed another three points off the Lilywhites on their own home soil. Or rather the rubber bits that pass for earth on their artificial playing surface.

It might have been a closer game than the one that transpired the previous weekend (as the Durham match report intimates) but that provides surprisingly little in the way of consolation when it's your eighth defeat in nine games. I'm sure that someone can find a positive spin to put on this wretched run, you'll just have to look elsewhere for it because I'm not very good at writing fantasy fiction.

Mossley 0 - 2 Durham City

At some point over the course of the next few weeks Chester FC manager Neil Young, sat in his office with a mug containing his hot beverage of choice on the desk in front of him, will turn his attentions to the upcoming game against Mossley.

He’ll find the report sent to him by the club scout who was dispatched to watch the Lilywhites match with Durham and read what it has to say. After he’s finished it he’ll read it again. And again for a third time before reaching for the phone and contacting the scout, at which point the following conversation will take place*:

“Mr Scout. Hello,” says Mr Young. After his salutation is acknowledged by his spy-in-chief, the current incumbent of The Blues’ managerial office swivel chair will continue, “I’ve just been reading the scouting report you’ve sent in regards to Mossley and I was wondering whether it was accurate or not.”

“It is,” comes the reply. “Why do you ask?”

“Well it says that we only need to send five players and that the other members of the squad can be given the weekend off as rest. That’s not right, surely?”

“It’s what I wrote and what I believe. The way Mossley are playing - the lack of any threat upfront, a disorganised midfield, a defence that comes nowhere near close to living up to that particular soubriquet and the absence of any kind of game plan other than to hope that the opposition gets bored and falls asleep at the monotonous use of the long ball or lone charge up the centre of the pitch – five players are all we need to beat them.”

“Don’t you think we should be a little less gung-ho though?. What would you advise if I wanted to show a more cautious approach?” enquires Mr Young.

“Make one of the five a goalkeeper.”

* I do of course use “will take place” in the no-it-won’t-as-it’s-completely-made-up sense of the phrase.