Any remaining hopes Mossley had of reaching the end
of season play-offs were dealt a near fatal blow by local
rivals Curzon Ashton who gained swift and comprehensive revenge
for their defeat on Easter Monday.
The early stages of the second meeting between the two sides
in ten days suggested that the Lilywhites would pick up the
baton from where they left off at the Tameside Stadium. Within
sixty seconds of the match kicking off Lee Blackshaw fired
a shot narrowly over the cross bar after wriggling through
a couple of challenges and they followed this up by exerting
a tremendous amount of pressure which kept Curzon contained
to the general vicinity of their own penalty area.
Sadly it couldn't last and by the time the game clock had
ticked over into double figures the visitors were comfortably
the team in the ascendency. Their sole game plan of hitting
it as hard, as high and as far as they could up the pitch
might have been awful to watch but it was brutally effective
and through it they opened the scoring. Although it must be
said not without a little help from Mossley.
An attack broke down and the ball was immediately launched
towards the far end corner of the pitch. Unfortunately for
the defender attempting to shepherd the punt off a for a goal
kick, he got his positioning wrong and allowed Ajay-Leitch
Smith to take possession and play a square pass to Dean Canning
- alone and unmarked in the the Lilywhites box - who made
no mistake in firing a shot past Peter Collinge.
The failure to pick up players in a blue shirt when they
entered they Mossley penalty area quickly became a feature
of the night and if Curzon hadn't been so wasteful with their
chances, the game would have been over bar the shouting long
before the interval. Instead they only managed one more before
the half came to an end and it arrived courtesy of a penalty
after another passage of play best forgotten finished with
Smith being tripped in the box; Michael Norton completing
the punishment from the spot.
Ten minutes into second period Canning doubled his tally
for the game. Taking advantage of being unmarked again - this
time while being little more than a yard away from the line
- he headed the ball home, finishing a move that began by
Mossley surrendering possession all too cheaply in the middle
of the park.
Rather than opening the floodgates, it spurred Mossley into
their best spell of the game. Chris McDonagh almost connected
with a knock down from Michael Fish, Nick Allan shot narrowly
wide and Matty Kay had a very good claim for a penalty ignored
by the match official. It was from the corner resulting from
the latter incident though that Mossley did reduce the arrears;
Andy Watson deflecting the ball over the line at the back
If Michael Fish hadn't had a goal incorrectly ruled out for
offside not long after, it's possible that Mossley may have
gone on to rescue the game, such was the panic that was slowly
beginning to spread through Curzon's back line as the pressure
increased. The raised flag of the official however not only
cancelled out the goal but signalled the end of Mossley's
The Lilywhites saw little of the ball over the final twenty
minutes of the match as Curzon slowly wound down the clock
with a copious amount of time wasting; something not all that
surprising given it was the latter stages of both sides sixth
game within the space of a fortnight.
The visitors found a spring in their step though to add a
fourth in the closing moments but again it was Mossley who
were the architects, this time with a comedy of errors that
ended with Norton rolling the ball into an empty net from
the edge of the area.
Whether it was a game too far in an overcrowded fixture schedule,
the kind of off night all teams have at some point or simply
being outclassed by a better side (the truth probably lying
somewhere between all three), the defeat means that the highest
position Mossley can realistically finish in is seventh and
considering where they were in the league at Christmas, that's
some achievement in itself.
Report by SJNR
pics by Smiffy