To paraphrase a saying from another walk of life, a week is a long time in football. Especially so when you're facing the same team for the third time in that period after two less than sparkling encounters.
As one Mossley fan pointed out to me during the second half as the game ambled towards its then inevitable conclusion, the review for this game could just read “Ditto!” Or, if you wanted to expand on that, “See last report.” It wouldn't be too far from the truth either as both this and the defeat to Woodley days earlier had both a similar rhythm and, sadly for the Lilywhite's, a similar outcome.
Not for the first time this season this season Mossley were having trouble converting a bright opening spell into anything productive. At times the approach play was very good and they got in and around the box on numerous occasions but the lack of a killer final ball to create chances and, ultimately, goals was to prove be home sides undoing yet again. Other than a Martin Allison shot from around the penalty spot, following some good hold-up play by Kitson Gayle, that was blocked on its path to goal by Marsh, Mossley were confined to shooting high, wide and tamely from distance.
Apart from a very early scare when Leon Grandison shot wide after getting on the end of a hefty clearance, the extra heading power added to Mossley's reshuffled defence through the introduction of Darren Royle meant that Woodley's long ball approach, a dominant feature of their play in the previous two games, wasn't proving quite as productive as it had been. Unfortunately it provided them with the opportunity to show they had more than one string to their bow.
On 27 minutes the visitors were allowed the time and space in midfield to present Mario Daniel with the opportunity to run at Mossley's back-pedalling defence and following the odd twist and turn later he was celebrating his second goal of the week against his former club. The remainder of the half from that point on was practically one way traffic with Woodley twice going close to doubling their lead through Paul Derrick and Daniel again.
There was a sigh of relief as Mossley reached the interval without conceding again but in the space of five minutes early in the second half the game was done and dusted as a contest. Mario Daniel used his low centre of gravity to outmanoeuvre Lee Connor in a tussle for the ball and embarked on a twenty yard run which ended with him slotting the ball past Ashley Connor for the second time in the match. Then, on the hour mark, a neat one-two on the right blew Mossley's defence wide open and Leon Grandison's long, raking cross was turned in at the back post by Robinson.
The visitors had chances to make the scoreline even more emphatic as Mossley virtually crumbled. Gaps appeared with increasing regularity and at times all Woodley were doing was walking towards the goal. The eventual substitutions of Mossley's tormentors-in-chief, Robinson and Daniel, went some way to damming the flow of attacks heading Ashley Connor's way but the damage had already been done.
It wasn't until the 67th minute that Mossley actually forced visiting keeper Liam Higginbotham (wearing a quite horrific day-glo, skin tight shirt) into earning his match fee and it came through their best passage of play for quite some time. Leevan Brown provided one of the home sides few telling crosses of the afternoon which Paul Garvey intelligently headed back into the path of Gareth Hamlet on the edge of the box. The former Halifax player then produced a thunderous effort that the Woodley keeper did well to deflect wide. From the resultant corner Martin Allison had Higginbotham flying to his right to keep out another goal bound shot but that was it as Mossley's response to being three goals down.
The final score line could have been worse for Mossley as Derrick, Wild and Hanlon went close to adding to it; the latter denied via a combination of an instinctive Connor save and the crossbar when Mossley appeared to switch-off as a collective after conceding a corner.
It would be nice to be able to argue that the 3 – 0 result gives an unfair reflection of the game but the truth is that it flatters Mossley's slightly – the defeat certainly could (and should?) have been a heavier one.
It's very easy to get despondent after a match like this one, particularly as there was little of note to be positive about, but as everyone is aware, we're an ongoing project and not the finished article. And I'm more confident that this past week is likely to be the nadir rather than a stopping of point on the way to it as similar performances at this stage of last season proved to be.
report by SJNR
Kitson Gayle is held up in the box
Martin Allison and Lee Connor challenge for the ball
pics by Garry Hadfield