After getting the season off to the perfect start with an impressive 2 – 0 win at Clitheroe, the Lilywhites hopes of establishing an early unbeaten run of note were dashed in disappointing fashion at home to Radcliffe Borough.
Initially it had looked like Mossley would carry on from where they'd left off at Shawbridge three days earlier when, two minutes into the game, Michael Fish dropped a looping shot onto the roof of the net. The home side ended the half brightly too with Fish bringing a smart save out of Radcliffe keeper Greg Hall from a similar position on the edge of the box and a corner being headed just over the cross bar from Nick Boothby.
Unfortunately though the 41 minutes between these two incidents were almost exclusively confined to the Mossley half of the pitch. In part aided by the home sides decision to sit incredibly deep, leaving Fish alone up front, Borough's continual harrying of anyone wearing a white shirt while in possession of the ball not only forced Mossley even further back towards their own goal, but into making some elementary mistakes as well.
Andy Waine was the first of the visitors to try his luck in the fifth minute with an effort that flashed across the face of Liam Higginbotham's goal and inches past the far post. An identical fate befell a shot from Lee Connell eight minutes later but for all their possession and attempts, it wasn't until the 35th minute that they actually called the Mossley goalkeeper into making a save; Higginbotham producing a point blank stop to prevent Michael Oates from putting Borough ahead.
Immediately following the interval Mossley appeared slightly more pro-active in their attempts to fashion a goal. Leon Henry shot narrowly wide from distance and twice from corners the Lilywhites flashed headers past the post.
However any momentum that the Lilywhites may have been building was soon lost through a combination of Radcliffe's pressing game plan and some sloppy football from the hosts. At times Mossley were their own worst enemy and this was no more evident than in the build up to the opening goal of the game. Having rode their luck numerous times after they'd surrendered possession cheaply (one shot ricocheting off the upright and Oates spurning a glorious chance with a free header), it eventually ran out in the 69th minute.
A careless pass to no-one when Mossley looked to be building an attack allowed Radcliffe to counter, and with the home defence caught cold, Mark Jones added the finishing touch to Waine's smart through ball by slipping it under the advancing Higginbotham.
The Lilywhites could offer little in response and the victory was sealed for the Bury side in the 78th minute. Mossley conceded a needless free-kick close to their own touchline and Michael Oates rose unmarked on the edge of the six yard box to head home the resultant cross.
The closing stages saw Mossley push forward in search of what would be little more than a consolation goal but Hall was never in any danger of being denied his first clean sheet of the campaign.
In the end though it was a victory that even the most blinkered of home fans would be hard pressed to begrudge Borough, and a defeat that will give Mossley's new management team plenty of food for thought as they head into the busy Bank Holiday weekend.
report by SJNR
pics by Aaron Flanagan