After Mossley's blistering performance in their thoroughly deserved victory over FC United (contrary to what you may have read elsewhere), there was always going to be the risk that this match at Woodley would be a case of "after the Lord Mayor's show".
And initially it was. But for the constant shrill of the referee's whistle you'd have been hard pressed to notice that the match had started, such was the lack of incident in the early stages of the game.
That all changed in the 20 th minute when Mossley's latest signing Leon Henry was unceremoniously upended by Paul Derrick. The challenge was more clumsy than malicious but in the brief round of 'handbags at five paces' that invariably follows this kind of incident, Derrick's upset at the decision spilt over into an off-the-ball clash with Nicky Thompson and the referee showed no hesitation in producing a red card from his pocket to send the Woodley forward off.
The dismissal should have provided Mossley with a springboard to take control of the game but despite having the man advantage, they were struggling to reproduce the form they'd shown midweek. Only occasionally did they get them behind their opponents defence, and even then all Sports' keeper Liam Higginbotham was called on to do was to pluck crosses out of the air.
Woodley had already beaten Mossley twice within the space of five days back in September and it looked as though they could make it a hat-trick of victories over the Lilywhites for this season when, five minutes before half-time, they took a shock lead. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Stubberfield's first touch took him clear of Lee Connor and his second sent the ball across Mossley's other Connor, goalkeeper Ashley, and in at the far post to put the home side ahead.
That advantage could, and probably should, have been doubled three minutes later when Buckley ran through a gap where Mossley's defence should have been, but his lobbed finish not only cleared Ashley Connor but the goal as well.
Mossley took to the pitch for the second half in a visibly more determined mood and five minutes after the restart, only a fine save from Higginbotham stopped Paul Garvey from registering his first goal of the season. What Woodley's custodian didn't know then though was that all he'd done was delay it for ten minutes.
An opening brought about by a quick break down the left involving Matthew Butters, Leon Henry and Gareth Hamlet came to a halt when Rick tripped Martin Allison four yards outside the penalty area. Its central position, combined with its closeness to goal and the number of players the hosts had in their defensive wall, made an effort on target (let a lone a goal) look a difficult proposition. Garvey was up to the challenge though and expertly curled an inch perfect shot that not only beat the massed line of Woodley players but the desperate dive of Higginbotham as well to draw Mossley level.
As Mossley pushed forward in search of a winner they became susceptible to counter attacks and but for some safe handling by Ashley Connor and a brilliantly timed tackle by Matthew Butters, they could have very well retaken the lead. The threat they posed was eventually quashed and as the game entered its final phase, Mossley finally began to make their man advantage count as they laid siege on the Stockport sides goal.
Leon Henry almost capped an impressive début with a goal when, with the assistance of the strong wind, his left wing cross turned into a shot that the Woodley keeper did well to tip over. The raised flag of the assistant referee then curtailed Gareth Hamlet's celebrations as his close range effort was ruled out for offside and a minute later Lee Connor was agonisingly close to grabbing what would have surely been a winner when his low drive narrowly beat the upright.
When Higginbotham held onto Martin Allison's sweetly struck volley in the final minute of normal time, most supporters were resigned to leaving Lambeth Grove with a point. Happily though the team wasn't and their 'it isn't over till the final whistle' mentality was rewarded in the 93rd minute when Richard Conway was sent crashing to the floor as he burst into Woodley's penalty area with the ball.
For the second time in his short career as a Mossley player, Danny Toronczak now faced the prospect of having to take a last gasp penalty that, if scored, would change the whole complexion of the game. If he felt under any pressure it didn't show as he calmly sent Higginbotham the wrong way to nestle the ball in the back of the net and guarantee that the three points would be heading back to Seel Park .
report by SJNR
Debutant Leon Henry wrong foots his marker
Higginbotham punches clear as Mossley press
Paul Garvey (out of picture) beats Higginbotham with a 25 yard free kick
Gareth Hamlet finds the net but this one is narrowly off-side
A Woodley defender grapples with Gareth Hamlet
Danny Toronczak steps up to the spot
. . . strikes well . . .
and sends Higginbotham the wrong way
Mossleyweb 'Man of the Match' Leon Henry in full flight