At face value the point taken from this game looks like a good one. Not only was it one that finally brought to an end a three match losing streak at Seel Park that stretches back over two and a half weather disrupted months, it was a point gained against a side currently second in the league and one of the favourites for promotion. The 'whole story' however is that the solitary point should have been three; the Lilywhites once again paying the price for not finishing off their opponents when they had them on the proverbial rack.
The afternoon got off to a perfect start for the home side when Danny Self prodded home a Lee Blackshaw free-kick at the back post in only the third minute. Over the course of the following thirty Mossley created enough opportunities to have won the game three times over as they virtually laid siege to their opponents goal.
Unlike their previous game against Curzon though where shooting accuracy, or rather the lack of it, was to blame for Mossley failure to make their domination of proceedings count, this time round it seemed like fate was conspiring against the men in the white shirts. Self saw a shot bounce of upright, the ball was twice cleared off the goal line, City keeper Beesley pulled of a series of unorthodox, some would say fortunate, saves and on more than one occasion the ball was prevented from crossing the line by sheer good luck than good defending. If it was a boxing match the referee would have stopped the contest.
For the second time in five days though Mossley were hit with a sucker punch. Just as Curzon had done five days earlier Lancaster scored against the run of play. Not only was it their first shot on target, it looked like it had been mis-hit too but Adam Airey's bobbling effort in the 35th minute had enough pace on it to beat the outstretched arm of Andy Robertson and give his side a decidedly unmerited equaliser.
To Mossley's credit it didn't seem to affect them in anyway and from the restart they continued to put their opponents under pressure and City's goal continued to lead a charmed life. None more so than when a crisply struck shot from Michael Fish cannoned off the foot of the post and rolled along the goal line before being cleared.
After an opening forty five minutes packed with incident there was no reason to expect that the remaining three quarters of an hour wouldn't be any different. But just as they'd done in the midweek derby, Mossley returned to the pitch for the second period looking a shadow of their first half selves. Again the vigour that had defined their performance in the previous half was replaced by one of lethargy and hurried, wayward passes.
Fortunately for the home side though Lancaster, unlike Curzon, had no apparent desire to use this turn of events to their advantage. Only once did their rudimentary approach look like paying dividends. It came in the 53rd minute when a hopeful lob from distance bounced back off the crossbar and to the feet of Haddow who'd been allowed to ghost unmarked into the area by the Mossley defence. With the goal at his mercy he delayed his shot long enough to allow Robertson to recover from the initial effort and make a good save.
It wasn't until the 69th minute when Danny Dignan became the third Mossley player to strike the post that the home side began to rediscover their drive and invention. By this late stage of the game however their path to goal was being blocked by a wall of yellow shirts as City packed out their defence. It was a wall though that should have been without a component part for the closing minutes of the match.
Danny Egan had been put clean through on goal with only the keeper to beat when he was upended by City centre half Michael Stringfellow. The body language of the City players suggested that they expected to be down to ten men for the remainder of the match but the referee amazingly chose only to award a free-kick and allowed the Dolly Blues to play out the remaining few minutes of pressure at full strength.
While bad luck can be blamed for having a hand in this result, it's games like this one that Mossley will look back on and wonder might have been if they miss out on promotion or a play-off spot by just a point or two.
pics by Garry Hadfield