Pre-Season 2011/12: Week Two

The opening week of Mossley's pre-season campaign was something of a mixed bag results wise (a big defeat, a big win and a narrow defeat to a big team) and it's a theme that carried over to the matches played in the seven days that followed.

For the week's first game our near neighbours from the division above, Ashton United, made the short journey over the hill to compete for the Willow Wood Hospice Cup; a competition that we have a pretty decent record in. Or we used to until this match.

Not having seen the game I can't pretend to offer some kind of insight into why the Lilywhites lost 4-0 at home to a side playing their first game since April. The general consensus of those who did see it though is that we played some nice stuff up until we reached the final third of the pitch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that old Mossley favourite of struggling to get a sighting of an opponents goal, never mind a shot at one, could be back for it's umpteenth consecutive season. Still, it's nothing that can't be rectified and maybe this is the year which it will be. History dictates however that it probably wouldn't be wise to hold one's breath in anticipation unless a purple/blue skin complexion is the 'in' thing this year.

Could we be in for a promising season though if this perennial Mossley problem is finally solved? Possibly. But looking at it from another angle, the fact we conceded four goals while fielding what on paper appears to be our strongest possible line-up at the moment (especially in terms of the defence) suggests that there may be an entirely different elephant in the room too. There's no point in worrying just yet though as this is the part of the year set aside for ironing out such wrinkles. As the mantra goes, results don't mean a thing in friendlies, it's all about improving fitness and performance. Hopefully we're getting fit.

Should you wish to read better accounts of this game then I'd visit Mossleyweb, SixTameSides and the Ashton United website. Although in which order you choose to do so is entirely up to you.

Four days after relinquishing their grip on the Willow Wood Hospice Cup, Mossley found themselves in the suburbs of Stockport to take on NWCFL Division One side Cheadle Town. And it was back to winning ways too as a late goal from Danny Egan was enough to see the visitors claim a 2-1 victory at the Park Road Stadium. It seems to have been a close game as well judging by the reports on Mossleyweb, the Cheadle Town fanzine and the latter's Twitter feed as the match progressed.

I can't really add anything more to that other than to emit a small 'yay!' at the victory. Not that I'd normally cheer wins in such meaningless matches, it's just that I haven't had chance to do it much since January and I need to get some practice in. You know, just in case come August.

Pre-Season 2011/12: Week One

Covering last years pre-season games on the very blog you're reading now was a bit of a problem. With choosing to give the matches a very wide berth, finding something to write about them other than to just provide links to the views of those who did was a touch on the difficult side. For this reason I decided that things had to change this year and they have.

No, I haven't done the obvious thing and decided to grace any of the matches with my presence. I've found a much easier (and cheaper) way to do things. Rather than reporting on the friendlies on a game-by-game basis I've decided to do it week-by-week. The content will be the same, i.e. not worth reading, but it will hopefully take up far less of your valuable time to look at before you realise that it really wasn't worth reading.

And now that the preamble is out of the way it's on to the meat of the post or rather the tofu given that what follows is a poor substitute for the real thing you'll find on other sites.

The phoney war got under way with Blue Square North new boys FC Halifax Town making the short trip down the A672 to take on Gareth McClelland's new look Lilywhites side (or last seasons New Mills team if you take in to account the number of signings we've made from them over the course of the summer). When you factor in that the match involved what's basically still a team of strangers facing off against a relatively settled championship winning side from two divisions higher there was really only ever going to be one outcome and so it proved; the visitors making the trip back across the Pennines with a 5-1 victory to show for their afternoon's efforts. The plus for Mossley is that their solitary goal courtesy of Joe Heap was according to reports the best of the six scored during the game.

Ah yes, the reports. They're here and here for the Mossley point of view and here and here for the oppositions take on matters. The last one takes time out to impart some very kind and much appreciated words about this blog and in doing so provides me with a tag line for it when I finally get round to finishing re-jigging it. Current E.T.A. of Mossley80 v3.0? Goodness knows! It has already been 13 months in the making and still not even halfway done. But little do you care about my lethargic attempts to apply the heart paddles to this site. What you want are more links to far better reads than this and the second friendly game will provide these.

After Halifax the next club to take up a presence in the away changing rooms was Oldham Athletic who, in something of a novelty for a Football League team playing a friendly at Seel Park, sent a reasonably strong side containing a fair old smattering of first team players. The reason for them doing so was in honour of Mossley's residence at their current home reaching the 100 year mark. I was going to say playing instead of residence but there are a number of years in the mid-80's and early 90's where they didn't do much of that. Hopefully Oldham will be able to send their first team again in a few years time when we celebrate two decades of the pitch at Seel Park actually being the right size to hold a game of association football on.

Anyway, the match. Far from the being the walkover you may have expected (a professional side playing against a team of amateurs from five levels lower that have barely just met one another) the game finished with the visitors claiming a narrow 1-0 victory. The report in the Oldham Advertiser claims that it was a comfortable victory for the full-timers but that's a conclusion not borne out by the official Oldham website's match updates which suggests that Mossley could have registered a slightly more positive result in the last ten minutes. It's also a summation that's at odds with the report on Mossleyweb and the opinions of supporters who saw the game. But then the Advertiser is from the MEN stable of newspapers and one thing we've learnt in recent years about reports in the MEN involving Mossley (who can forget their hysterically bad Stalin-like airbrushing of events after our win over their then pet favourites FCUB) is that they may not bear a resemblance to what actually happened.

The third and final game of the opening week of friendly matches saw a Macclesfield Town XI make the trip to Seel Park; 'XI' as we all know being football code for a team comprising of players who should probably be revising for exams or finishing off homework instead of kicking a ball around on the edges of the Pennines. Young or experienced players though, and as much as I'd like to avoid using this particular football cliché, you can only beat what's in front of you and Mossley did so by six unanswered goals, and not without a fair old smattering of young people in their own line-up. I believe 'emphatic' is the adjective of choice for a victory like this one which you can read about on the official Mossley site.

So after a less than auspicious start against Halifax Mossley appear to be finding their feet a little which, while good, still means nought at this stage of the year. Friendlies may be necessary but they are ultimately pointless as anything other than a slightly more intensive fitness workout; they are as a guide to an upcoming season what horoscopes are to accurately predicting the future. Except with slightly fewer gullible followers.

Next up on the site: Pre-season friendlies 2011/10 - Week 2. I bet you can wait. Which sadly, going off my current blog work rate, is something you'll almost certainly have to do.

Mossley Youth 2 - 1 New Mills Youth

The one out and out success that Mossley can rightly point to over the past twelve months of humdrum-ity was the club's first ever youth team. Formed last summer along with a reserve side who weren't too shabby either (probably because it consisted mostly of youth team players), it was the one thing as a supporter that gave you a glimmer of hope for the future.

Watching the first XI put in one turgid performance after another, taking in one of the youth team's matches became something akin to a football palette cleanser. The bitter taste left by the route one style, balsa wood battering ram approach that our senior side's tactics seemed to consist of for spells during our Evo-Stik First Division campaign was washed away by the genuinely rare sight of a team in white shirts playing extremely good football at Seel Park. They had more focus, a seemingly better spirit and... did I mention, they played better football too? I did? Well it is an important point worth repeating.

While they didn't win the league they were playing in - the North West Youth Alliance - a fact that may have ultimately been down to the number of games they were being forced to play every week as the season neared its climax, they did reach three cup finals and won two of them: the Manchester FA Youth Cup and the NWYA Open Cup. A feat which saw the club then embark on an Indiana Jones style hunt for the Lilywhites, some say mythical, trophy cabinet.

What follows is the first of those two final victories (the Manchester FA Youth Cup) which took place back in April at Salford's Moor Lane ground. It's a win that was sadly overshadowed by the big news which broke just before kick-off on the night that Shaun Higgins had vacated the Lilywhites managerial swivel chair and as such the victory probably didn't get the attention it deserved amongst the Mossley supporters. Hopefully though the video will address the balance, even if it only by some imperceptibly minuscule extent.

So, 3 (T-H-R-E-E) whole months after the game took place, here's some video footage of Mossley's goals in the 2-1 win over New Mills along the cup presentation:

Mossley80: it may be slow but it gets there in the end. Eventually. Sometimes.

Lancaster City 2 - 0 Mossley

Are you familiar with the saying, "better late than never"? Well, if so, I'm about to prove that isn't necessarily the case. Yes dear readers (although I do think I've reached the stage where the pluralisation of that word isn't needed) it's time to finally bring the reporting on Mossley's first team escapades for the 2010/11 to a close.

Reporting probably isn't the best term to use seeing as I don't go to away games any more, so prepare yourself for a bit of waffling before I post a couple of links to the thoughts of people who did travel.

It's actually somewhat fitting that the few words you're looking at now in regards to this game have appeared on the blog over two months late given that the result passed me by for the best part of a week. After posting a link to the live commentary Lancaster University provide on City's home matches on Twitter in the hours before kick-off I completely forgot about the match until I next looked on the club forum four days later. Before you fully form the thought that that's a total exaggeration, let me assure you that it isn't; the complete lack of care I had about the outcome of the match turned into forgetting it took place at all. And judging by some of the comments that have appeared about the game it would seem that forgetting about it is the best thing anybody could do.

Which with a little bit of a clunk segue ways into pointing you in the direction of some actual eyewitness accounts of what transpired at the Giant Axe on that warm Friday afternoon, two and a bit months ago: Smiffy's blog and Mossleyweb. I'd like to link to a Lancaster take on proceedings but none seem to exist. A quick look at the reports on their official website (none since the start of April and only two since mid-March) makes the updates on here look like they're surfing the zeitgeist.

That's it in terms of reporting for this season on the blog, at least for the first XI anyway as there's still one more thing to come. As for what it is I'm not prepared to comment but its arrival will make this two month in the making posting look like up-to-minute reportage.