The season may be only seven games old but having already broken their long running cup jinx less than a fortnight earlier, Mossley unburdened themselves of another unwanted statistic with a superb display of football against FC Halifax Town.
Prior to the match it had been the better part of four years since the Lilywhites had gone more than four games unbeaten but this victory, their fifth on the trot in all competitions, finally laid that particular ghost to rest and in some style too. And what made the performance and the result all the more impressive was that they did it after getting off to the worst possible start as well.
The game was barely a minute old when ex-Lilywhite Adam Morning punished a slack defensive clearance to rifle the ball low past Liam Higginbotham from fully twenty five yards out.
In recent seasons a setback like this would have been the cue for Mossley to fall to pieces but the home side simply picked themselves up, took a stranglehold on the game that they rarely loosened and within five minutes were back on level terms.
After being awarded a free-kick for a foul on Ryan Cook, Phil Charnock floated a perfectly weighted delivery towards Mike Fish in the Halifax penalty area. Mossley's leading scorer however failed to connect with it but with the Town defenders more intent on watching him than the ball, Charnock's set piece continued along it's thirty five yard trajectory and into the net.
While Town were confined to having the odd shot from distance every now and again, over the remaining forty minutes of the half there wasn't one of Mossley's more attack minded players who didn't have a shot on goal or come close to worrying the scoreline. Danny Dignan hit the foot of the upright, had a very strong penalty appeal waved away after being sent crashing to the ground and like Lee Blackshaw, Scott Holt and Fish, was denied by some fine goalkeeping by Jon Kennedy. The best chance though fell to Simon Wood but the right back couldn't provide the finish to a flowing move down the right flank which he himself had started in his own half.
After the interval it took Mossley just three minutes to do what they had so agonisingly failed to achieve on numerous occasions in the first period and take the lead. The architect of the goal was Lee Blackshaw who used his pace to advance half the length of the pitch, beat his marker Tom Harban and drew the keeper out before cutting the ball back to Michael Fish, who in turn finished the move by side footing the ball home from close range.
In a game containing some wonderful moments of football from the Lilywhites, they produced the move of the match in the 54th minute. Halifax were made to chase shadows as the home side strung together over twenty passes in a passage of play that culminated with Fish drawing a point blank save out of Kennedy that was equal in stature to the build-up.
There was still a third of the game remaining when Mossley were provided with the opportunity to add a cushion to their lead. Like the second goal it came through Blackshaw flashing past his marker in the penalty area only this time Harban tugged at his shirt and under the direction of his assistant, the referee pointed to the spot. It may have been a soft penalty, especially compared to the challenge by Lincoln Adams on Dignan in the previous half, but it was an unquestionable one and Michael Fish converted it to put his goal tally into double figures for the season.
Just as they'd done against Salford three days earlier Mossley continued to push forward in search of more goals, and if it wasn't for Kennedy proving to be a formidable obstacle to beat, they would have sent the Shaymen back across the Pennines with an even more convincing defeat.
At the other end of the pitch Halifax seldom threatened. There were a couple of minor scares when the game was in its death throes but nothing to take any of the edge off what was a fantastic display by the Lilywhites; a deserved victory that sees them leapfrog Newcastle Blue Star and into first place in the league table.
report by SJNR
Phil Charnock (out of picture) places a free kick into the Halifax net
Scott Holt, Phil Charnock, Nick Boothby, Daryl Weston and Simon Wood celebrate Mossley's equaliser
Sponsors MoM Lee Blackshaw roasted his marker Tom Harban all night
Danny Dignan has a strong penalty appeal denied
Rookie midfielder Ryan Cook had an impressive home debut
pics by Aaron Flanagan