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.