Perceived wisdom suggests that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, something Mossley unfortunately proved against Clitheroe at a cold and blustery Seel Park.
At the beginning of October in the fixture at Clitheroe's Shawbridge ground, Mossley were a goal to the good and in no real danger when a lengthy stoppage on the hour mark knocked them out of a rhythm they couldn't rediscover, allowing their hosts to capitalise on indecision and some loose passing to score two late goals that won them the game. Flash forward a month and a half and the same thing happened again. Only this time Mossley have no enforced hold-up to blame - just themselves.
In truth the home side should have had the game wrapped by half-time. From the moment Lee Blackshaw hammered a shot against the post in the 3rd minute, the Lilywhites spent the majority of the opening period encamped in their opponents half but as all too often this season, the lack of a real cutting edge in front of goal meant that their domination of possession was not mirrored in the scoreline.
Chances came and went. A poor back pass by John Osbourne allowed Gareth Hamlet to set up his strike partner Danny Toronczak, only for the former Belper forward to arc his shot over the Clitheroe crossbar. His next effort forced a fine save out of Blues keeper Horridge, but the visiting custodian should have had his copybook blotted not long after when a corner that resulted from an extremely basic handling error was headed narrowly over by Lee Connor.
As the half wore on both Blackshaw and Richard Conway put shots high over the bar from good positions and numerous other promising opportunities came to nothing due, more often than not, to the lack of a decent final ball. In response the best Clitheroe could muster were two breakaways from their on-loan signing from Fleetwood, Micky Saunders. Twice his turn of pace took him away from the Mossley defence but it was only his first run on goal caused any real consternation, forcing Lee Connor to hook the ball off the line.
Within a minute of the restart following the interval though, Mossley finally managed what they'd spent the first half struggling to do. Straight from the kick-off Hamlet forced Horridge into turning the ball behind and from the ensuing corner, Steven Shiel found himself unmarked inside the six yard box and he headed Mossley into the lead; his first goal since his return to the club.
But then it all went horribly, horribly wrong. From looking like the only side capable of scoring, once they did they never looked like winning. Just as it had done six weeks previously, Mossley's passing became lax and possession was constantly being handed over to their opponents. With 60 minutes gone, it was through a sloppy piece of play like this that Clitheroe quickly broke up field and forced a corner from which Clarke brought the scores level by bundling the ball over the line.
If it refocused Mossley's approach it wasn't noticeable and only a superb point blank save by Ashley Connor stopped Saunders from putting the visitors ahead. The Lilywhites keeper could only watch though as Neil Zarac fired high and wide when it looked easier to score after being left unmarked and gifted the ball on the edge of the Mossley penalty area through a kamikaze pass across the defence.
By this stage Mossley were only providing any real threat from set-pieces and what proved to be their last chance of the game with ten minutes left went the way of most of their others; Martin Allsion spooning Horridge's umpteenth spilled catch of the game, this time from a free-kick, over the cross bar.
The miss was to prove costly as two minutes later Clitheroe scored the goal that won the game. Again they capitalised on yet another poor Mossley pass and their greater turn of pace to break up the pitch where Zarac fired past Ashley Connor.
As the home side threw men forward in search of an equaliser that, in truth, never looked like arriving, huge gaps started to appear in their defence which Clitheroe gratefully began to exploit. The eventual destination of the three points should have been put beyond any doubt in the 89th minute when Clitheroe had players literally queuing up to apply a finishing touch to a move, only for Sam Heap to fire hopelessly over.
That third goal did arrive though and courtesy of the same modus operandi as the previous two: the ball sloppily given away and Clitheroe allowed to charge up field virtually unimpeded. It was Zarac again that applied the finish to the move, this time slipping the ball under Ashley Connor.
I'd normally say a match to forget for the Lilywhites but hopefully this one will be remembered and the lessons to be learnt from it heeded for future games.
report by Stephen Rigby
Lee Blackshaw gets squeezed out
Lee Connor heads just over
Steve Sheil heads Mossley's goal
Paul Quinn is denied
Mossleyweb 'Man of the Match' Lee Blackshaw
pics by Garry Hadfield