After an injury time equaliser at Trafford
had brought their run of five successive victories to an end
in midweek, Mossley embarked on what they no doubt hope will
be another lengthy run of positive results with a win against
Harrogate Railway Athletic at a rain sodden Seel Park.
Despite their lowly position in the league, any assumptions
that this would be an 'easy' fixture for the Lilywhites were
countered by the fact that Harrogate entered the match as
one of the in-form sides in the Unibond First Division North
having taken 13 out of a possible 15 points, including a defeat
of current league leaders Lancaster City.
And if there were any lingering thoughts that it would be
a relatively trouble free afternoon for the Mossley, who themselves
were on a similar vein of form, they were dispelled in an
opening thirteen minute spell that the visitors dominated
and in which they took a deserved lead. The impressive Ben
Jones fed the ball into the path of Kevin Ryan and after shrugging
off the attentions of Graham Kay, the burly Harrogate striker
fired the ball low across Peter Collinge and into the corner
of the net.
It was a lead that didn't last long though as less than two
minutes later, and on what was practically their first attack,
Chris McDonagh netted from close range to pull Mossley level;
the forward taking advantage of some leaden footed defending
to ghost into the box and onto the end of Steve Settle's inch
perfect through ball.
McDonagh and Matty Kay both had opportunities to edge the
home side in front before Steve Moore did just that eight
minutes from the break. A weak punch by ex-Mossley keeper
James Mann following a goalmouth scramble fell to the feet
of Moore on the edge of the penalty area and his first time
strike flew through a crowd of players and across the line.
The goal helped to calm a few nerves as Mossley could have
easily found themselves playing catch-up again just two minutes
before Moore's strike. Fortunately Aaron Hollingdrake was
unable to punish the lax defending that saw him with the ball
at his feet and only the goalkeeper to beat by firing horribly
wide of the upright from ten yards out.
Unsurprisingly the combined effects of the weather and the
energy sapping nature of the heavy pitch began to take its
toll on the players and, as a consequence, the entertainment
value of the match too. Tired limbs led to a succession of
mistakes and it was through one that Mossley gave a cushion
to their lead in the 63rd minute.
A long clearance down field should have been dealt with easily
by Harrogate centre half Grogan but his mis-control allowed
McDonagh to take possession. The ball then worked it's way
across the 18 yard box via the boot of Matty Kay to Moore
who launched a rocket of a shot into the net off the underside
of the crossbar.
The loss of Jones through injury appeared to bring to an
end the visitors best hope of fashioning a comeback and Mossley
looked to be cruising to a comfortable three points. At least
that was the case until Ryan scored his second of the afternoon
with two minutes of the match remaining, giving the Lilywhites
a slightly more nervous end to the game than they were expecting
as Athletic pushed men forward in search of an equaliser.
Their defence however wasn't to be breached for a third time
and the Lilywhites kept their lead intact to register a sixth
win in seven outings, move themselves into ninth spot in the
table and with the number of games they have in hand on the
teams above them, spark faint hopes of possible push for a
Report by SJNR
pics by Smiffy