Following a series of less than average performances, Mossley rediscovered their early season form claim a valuable win against an FC United side also equally in search of a much needed positive result.
The Lilywhites made obvious their intentions to take the game to their opponents in the very first minute when, after forcing an early corner, Nicky Thompson's shot from the edge of the United box just cleared the cross bar. Visiting keeper Phil Priestley then did well to turn James Riordan's long range free-kick away as it made its way through a crowd of players in front of him, and Steve Sheil headed narrowly wide from another corner. And all before the ten minute mark had been reached.
The home side continued to press forward but their opponents were soon resorting to fouler means than fairer to stop them from making their pressure count. In the 12th minute Paul Quinn broke clear of the United defence but his clear run on goal was stopped by centre-half Adam Turner simply falling on him as he began to pull away. To the astonishment of the home support no whistle was forthcoming and the ball was cleared to safety.
It failed to disrupt Mossley's momentum though and Quinn drew a save out of Priestley after connecting with Gareth Hamlet's intelligent flick on and Riordan again caused panic in the visitor's defence with a storming, length of the pitch run from his full-back position. Quinn went close once more, this time after good work by Lee Blackshaw, before Adam Turner had fortune smiling on him for the second time in the match.
This time it was Paul Garvey who was denied the chance to break clear of the United defence as Turner tugged at his shirt. Again play was waved on and though Garvey struggled free to resume his chase for the ball, the chance was ultimately brought to a halt by another offence that went unpunished; Priestley picking the ball up outside his area as the Mossley forward closed in.
It wasn't until the 18th minute that United had their first real effort on goal and it was to be another twelve after that that they subjected the home side to their first serious spell of pressure. A series of corners concluded with Ashley Connor making a superb point blank stop to deny Simon Carden before the one golden opportunity FC United created in the half was wasted by their captain Rory Patterson. After getting behind Mossley's defence for the first time in the game, the visitors had players queueing up unmarked in the area waiting for the ball. Patterson chose to ignore them though and shot from a ridiculously narrow angle, planting the ball into the side netting.
The remainder of the half once again belonged to Mossley as they continued to cause their opponents defence all sorts of problems with their passing and movement and the intelligent through balls that continually cut them open.
Paul Garvey put the ball in the net for the home side only to see it ruled out for reasons unknown and was then denied by Priestley after Paul Quinn's reverse pass had presented him with the opportunity. Lee Connor headed narrowly over from a free-kick awarded for two late lunges by Adam Turner in a matter of seconds on Garvey and Gareth Hamlet then drew a fantastic save out of Priestley that surprisingly went unappreciated by the away fans in attendance.
In the closing moments of the half, Garvey was given another opportunity to advance on goal courtesy of a yet another defence splitting pass. His run was brought to a crashing halt though by a rather cynical challenge from behind by, once again, Turner and this the time the United's player luck deserted him as the referee immediately produced a fully warranted red card.
Following a blip at the start of the second period when they gave Jerome Wright the opportunity to run on goal, Mossley carried on from where they'd left off at the end of the first half and they got their due reward in the 51st minute. Paul Quinn controlled Priestley's 's fumbled attempt at dealing with a cross and fed Gareth Hamlet who had his initial shot blocked. Picking up the rebound he composed himself and after what seemed like an eternity (shades of Josh Howard's winner at Lymington in 2003), he picked his moment to fire the ball into the net .
It was no more than Mossley deserved and they continued to push forward in attempt to double their lead: Steven Sheil headed wide from a corner; Martin Allison saw a long range effort fly just over the cross bar; Hamlet went close to converting Matthew Butters left wing cross and Lee Blackshaw's cross from a similar position was hammered into the side netting by Paul Quinn. FC United's only respite came when Jamie Baguley curled a shot wide of Ashley Connor's right hand post just short of the hour point.
A succession of corners around the 70 minute mark saw lots of frantic defending take place in the FC box before a particularly unsavoury aspect to the visitor's game reared it's head. After another United attack had come to nothing, Ashley Connor played the ball into touch so that two injured players (one from either side) could receive treatment. The visitors however, apparently at their managers insistence, ignored the unwritten rule in football about throwing the ball back and chose to launch an attack instead. An incredible display of poor sportsmanship from a side that's supposed to be founded on footballing principles.
All it succeeded in doing was firing up Mossley even more and with nine minutes left Mossley put the game beyond their opponents reach and, again, it was another ball through the heart of the United defence that did the damage. Gareth Hamlet picked up the ball and took the ball into the box and as he did, his feet where whipped from under him by Priestley, giving Martin Allison the opportunity to cap a fine personal performance by dispatching the resultant penalty into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Now enjoying a two goal cushion, Mossley reigned their attacking instincts in a bit, allowing United to enjoy a bit more possession than they'd previously been permitted. Not that it made any difference to the threat that the Bury based side were carrying; Rory Patterson again ignoring the better options available to him by hammering a shot from the edge of the box that only troubled the linesman. Ashley Connor then denied substitute Hanley with two solid saves in the space of 30 seconds and in doing so killed off any hopes United may have had of rescuing the game; the Lilywhites seeing out the closing moments with little more discomfort.
After a sequence of matches where the number of plus points could be counted on the fingers of Abu Hamza's right hand, it can't be argued that a player in a white shirt gave anything less than their very best in this game to get Mossley's faltering campaign back on track. From the front to the back they were almost faultless.
The style of play was a world away from what we've seen in recent games as well. Keeping the ball on the ground and not sitting quite as deep, they certainly looked far more comfortable than they did in the previous game at Curzon.
It was a very welcome three points but the most important thing now is to take the momentum we've got from this victory into the next game on Woodley's artificial surface.
So after all that: a great performance, a win (our first in a night match this season), a couple of goals (including another converted penalty) and a clean sheet. You really can't ask for more can you?
report by SJNR
Lee Blackshaw races away
Paul Garvey gives chase
Martin Allison heads just over
FC United's Adam Turner receives his marching orders
Quinn and Garvey are denied by Priestley
Gareth Hamlet (partially hidden) slots home the opener
. . . and celebrates his goal
Martin Allison hits another sweet pass
Time to defend the lead
Paul Quinn tussles for the ball
with ex Mossley man Matty Taylor
Quinn hits the side netting
how did that not go in
more Mossley pressure
United scrape clear
Gareth Hamlet is brought down for the penalty
Martin Allison's spot kick beats Phil Priestley
another goal to celebrate
Gerry looks quietly pleased with himself
Mossleyweb and sponsors 'Man of the Match' Gareth Hamlet
pics by Garry Hadfield