Mossley's Christmas campaign ended at Gigg Lane just as it had begun six days earlier at Seel Park, with the Lilywhites on the receiving end of another heavy defeat.
Although to be truthful the game wasn't quite as one sided as the final score makes it appear. In fact it was something of a paradox. On the one hand, the three goal margin could have been a lot, lot worse. On the other though, the eventual score line is incredibly harsh on a Mossley side that had an equal share of possession and, like their hosts, dominated lengthy sections of the game
And it was Mossley who saw the lion's share of the ball in the opening 12 or so minutes of the game but their failure to make United keeper Sam Ashton work up a sweat was punished when the home side took the lead against the run of play, and in a somewhat dubious fashion.
The ball was launched up the middle of the pitch and though FC's two forwards were clearly offside, play was allowed to continue and Ashley Connor was given no chance as the two men bore down on him; Jerome Wright eventually putting the ball into the net. Mossley almost made the perfect response less than a minute later but Danny Toronczak, albeit under pressure, prodded Hamlet's rebounded shot wide of the goal.
United then embarked on a lengthy spell of pressure of their own and whilst Mossley's use of the offside trap was continually catching United out, it has to be said that they were living dangerously at times - no more so than when Dean Johnson cleared off the line after the home side had fashioned an attack out of next to nothing.
Which, coincidentally, is how Mossley got back into the game in the 25th minute. Lee Blackshaw was brought into the game for the first time by Richard Conway and after skinning the right back, the former Glossop player produced an inviting near post cross that Gareth Hamlet skilfully turned into the net. Once again control of the game changed and Mossley started to open up their opponents back line but, just like that opening period, they couldn't press home their advantage.
Slowly the home side dragged themselves back into the game and Mossley's weaknesses at corners was suddenly exposed as a long series of them saw United go close on far too many occasions to retaking the lead. With half-time fast approaching an unseemly aspect to FC United's game came to the fore when, in a chase with Ashley Connor for a loose ball, Aaron Burns threw himself theatrically to the ground the moment it became apparent that catching the ball was beyond him.
Even though Burns was lying on the ground before Mossley's keeper had got remotely near him, the referee amazingly pointed to the spot. Justice was served however when Connor kept out the penalty with a low save to his left.
The second period was an even affair up till the 55th minute when a double substitution by United, combined with fifteen minutes of defensive madness from Mossley then changed the game. Within the space of a minute Rory Patterson. had found the net twice as Mossley's marking became non-existent and it could have gotten a lot worse too as the home side charged through gaps in the Lilywhites back line; Patterson had a goal ruled out for offside and was then denied by a smart save from Connor as FC threatened to run up something approaching a cricket score.
Mossley slowly regained their composure and with 20 minutes to go they staged a late rally and, amazingly considering the pummelling they'd had in the previous quarter of an hour, it suddenly looked as though the game could be rescued. That hope coming when Matthew Butters' quick thinking at a free-kick saw the ball eventually turned into the net by Lee Connor.
It was now Mossley who held the upper hand but for all their possession and tormenting of United's back line, that killer final touch was once again sadly lacking and chances came and went before the home side were allowed to climb back off the rails and put paid to Mossley's hopes of salvaging the game.
Some slack defending allowed Nicky Platt to put the game beyond Mossley's reach with five minutes left and salt was rubbed into the wound in injury time when a poor challenge from Butters gave United their first genuine penalty of the match; Patterson completing his hat-trick despite Connor almost making his second successful spot kick save of the afternoon.
So, for the second year running, it's a 1st January to forget for Mossley. But despite the heavier defeat, there are certainly more causes for optimism in the loss to FC United than there was in
the one goal to defeat to Ashton United at the beginning of 2007.
report by SJNR