The search for the first points of 2008 continues as a late goal was enough to see Mossley fall to their fourth defeat in five games. And it was a facet of the Lilywhites play, carried over from the old year, that once again undid any hopes claiming something from a match.
With eight minutes to go Neil Spencer became the latest beneficiary of Mossley's ability to leave players unmarked in dangerous areas, and the time and space afforded to the Bridge substitute on the edge of the penalty box allowed him to pick his spot past Ashley Connor; practically guaranteeing that the three points would be heading to back to Preston with him and his team mates.
It had all started so well for Mossley too. Eight minutes had gone when Lee Connor's hanging ball from the back was brought under control by Lee Blackshaw just outside the Bamber Bridge penalty area. Keeping the ball close he bided his time before turning and stroking the ball beyond the reach of Terry McCormick to give the Lilywhites the lead.
That lead should have been doubled five minutes later when Paul Quinn and James Riordan combined down the right to put Danny Toronczak clean through on goal but his shot was straight at the Bridge keeper who gratefully hung on to the ball. It turned out to be a costly miss as less than a minute, Ashley Connor was picking the ball out of the back of his net.
After making the save from Toronczak, McCormick had played the ball out to the left and one cross and one knock down later, Mark Edmeads arced a shot from the edge of the box beyond the reach of the Connor and drew the scores level.
Within the space of another sixty seconds Mossley should have retaken the lead when Blackshaw's left wing cross found Quinn arriving unmarked in the box but the resultant shot was scuffed wide. Which is also what happened to a Bridge chance moments later after Ryan Salmon broken clear of the home defence.
The remainder of the half played out with both sides swapping chances; Mossley's coming through some patient build-up play whilst the visitors were content to soak up the pressure and hit their hosts on the break with pace, a tactic that almost paid dividends in the 20 th minute but Ashley Connor proved equal to Alex Porter's stinging shot from 25 yards.
Riordan almost caught everyone out when his cross slowly turned into a shot, forcing the Bridge keeper into some furious back pedalling, before Blackshaw almost nudged his side ahead with a carbon copy of his opener, but this time round McCormick managed to get a foot to the shot and divert the ball wide.
Not long after the interval, Martin Allison fired wide following a free-kick but from that point on, in terms of chances if not possession, it was all Bamber Bridge. Or to be more specific, Ryan Salmon. Fortunately for Mossley though the opposing number 9 had left his scoring boots at home.
Hesitation had already seen him fluff one opportunity and after winning a corner with a shot that was deflected into the side netting, he proceeded to spurn an even more glorious chance. Mossley failed to sufficiently clear the subsequent corner and when the ball was played back into the area, Salmon inexplicably headed over the net from a matter of yards. A miss made all the worse by the fact that he had a virtual open goal to aim at and had no-one challenging him for the ball.
He went a lot closer five minutes later with an effort from the edge of the area that bounced off the post and Glenn Steel's shot from even further out went narrowly wide of the opposite upright. These chances sandwiched a rare Mossley attempt on goal (Lee Connor sending the ball wide from a free kick) before Neil Spencer popped up with the previously mentioned winner.
The closest the Lilywhites came to rescuing the match was a shot from Jamie Miller that McCormick did well to get a fingertip to as the closing stages of the game played out around (but unfortunately not in) the Bridge box. For all of Mossley's huffing and puffing though it wasn't to be and whilst Bridge end their losing streak, Mossley extend theirs and journey next to Harrogate in the hope of finding those elusive points.
report by SJNR
pics by Garry Hadfield