The disastrous run of form Mossley have experienced since the turn of the year continued unabated at the home of promotion chasing Skelmersdale United. And like the 2 - 1 defeat they suffered in their previous match at Harrogate , the score line, even at 5 – 0, makes the game seem closer than it actually was.
It's fair to say that things started badly for Mossley and went downhill from there. There was only three minutes gone when Georgie Donnelly put the home side ahead with the easiest goal he's likely to score all season; heading a right wing cross past Ashley Connor whilst completely unmarked in the six yard box.
This was then followed by Anthony Murt bouncing a free-kick off the Lilywhites crossbar and Ashley Connor saving at the feet of Donnelly (after the latter had been put clean through on goal) as United threatened to put the game beyond Mossley's reach with less than a quarter of it gone.
Mossley slowly began to enjoy a greater share of possession but not for the first time this season the failure to convert it into even half chances, let alone goals, was to prove costly. And whilst they toiled around the Skelmersdale box, they were always susceptible to the counter attack and every time United broke forward it looked as though more goals would be forthcoming.
Despite numerous close calls Mossley managed to reach the interval only a goal in arrears and with fifteen minutes to regroup, there was a certain amount of hope amongst the travelling support that having weathered something of a storm, things could turn in Mossley's favour in the second period. Especially with the strong wind that was blowing down the pitch now at their backs.
That optimism evaporated three minutes into the restart. A badly misjudged back pass by Darren Royle put Ashley Connor into a desperate race for the ball with Murt. It was a contest Connor won by the narrowest of margins but his clearance could only find the feet of Adam Birchall and with more time than he should have had, he lofted the ball over the stranded keeper and into the net.
Skelmersdale's pace then became the main factor in the game as they began to tear through Mossley's back line with considerable ease, and with only Leon Henry able to keep pace with them it was no surprise that the Lilywhites began to find themselves all too often outnumbered in defence. As was the case four minutes later when Donnelly ran half the length of the field to score his second and his sides third of the match.
Donnelly then proceeded to fluff his chance of a hat-trick by spooning the ball over the bar with only Connor to beat and Henry managed to break up a 3-on-1 attack as it looked increasingly like the proverbial floodgates were about to open. Thankfully though they didn't, due in no small part to some poor finishing and over elaboration on Skelmersdale's part, but a bit of water did slosh over the top of them.
With just under quarter of an hour left substitute Paul Crompton stroked home United's fourth goal of the game and in the 90th minute the fifth and final goal arrived, Paul Prescott heading a long queue of players waiting to apply the finishing touch to Crompton's cross.
The only crumb of comfort that can be taken from the game is that the defeat wasn't as heavy as it could so very easily have been. However, having taken just 3 points of a possible 18 since being positioned on the outer fringes of the play-off places little over a month ago, Mossley now find themselves looking back anxiously over their shoulders as the relegation battle beneath them edges slightly nearer.
Report by SJNR
Pics by Garry Hadfield
Pics by Michael Clark