Following a poor sequence of recent results, Mossley ensured that they ended the league season on a high note by completing it in the manner in which had begun – by picking up three points in central Lancashire.
The match couldn't have got off to a better start for the Lilywhites either. It was barely sixty seconds old when Lee Blackshaw beat team mate Mattie Kay to Reece Kelly's deep cross and fired Mossley in front from close range.
Goal number two arrived five minutes and a host of missed chances later when Danny Egan was given time and space by the home defence to bring Leon Henry's through ball under control and pick his spot; curling an inch perfect effort around Proctor in the United goal.
The Stag's were a fingertip save by James Mann away from halving the deficit in the eighth minute but less than twenty seconds passed before the mountain they had to climb to rescue the game grew even bigger. Mossley broke quickly up field and though Egan hit the post with a shot from the edge of the box, Nathan Neequaye was on hand to tap home the rebound.
To be truthful a six or seven goal lead by the midway point of the half wouldn't have flattered the visitors, such was their dominance of proceedings. Even so, on any other day the third goal would have effectively ended the game as a contest but with Rossendale needing a win to avoid relegation they began to throw men forward in an effort to salvage their season. And in throwing caution to the wind they began to cause the visitors some problems.
None more so than when Phil Eastwood was sent crashing to the ground as he attempted to take the ball past the Mossley keeper. To the surprise of many, not least the Rossendale players and supporters, only a yellow card was shown for the offence and not the expected red. The home contingent then had their noses rubbed in the perceived injustice by Mann not only saving the resulting spot kick, but pulling off a string of good saves too that enabled his side to enter the break with their three goal lead intact.
Despite there being no further additions to the score line, the second half was no less entertaining than the first. With scores elsewhere condemning Rossendale to life in the North West Counties League unless they could overturn Mossley's lead, and the visitors looking to exploit the gaps their opponents were now leaving in defence, chances came and went in a near frenzy of attacking, end to end football.
As the final whistle neared though and the spectre of impending demotion loomed large over them, the wind began to fall from United's sails and it was only some poor finishing that stopped Mossley from racking up the score line they'd threatened to achieve in the opening moments of the match.
It's a victory that secures Mossley a top ten finish and brings to an end what has been quite an eventful Unibond First Division North 2008-09 campaign.
Report by SJNR
pic by Smiffy
pic by Smiffy
pic by Smiffy
pics by Aaron Flanagan