The return to league commitments after a fortnight of cup fixtures turned out to be a very unhappy one for Mossley as crashed to a deserved defeat at The Neil Rourke Stadium, home of Woodley Sports.
There was little to warm the travelling supporters on a bitterly cold and wet night as the Stockport side outplayed, out thought and out fought their opponents from virtually the sound of the first whistle to the last.
It was only the reflexes of goalkeeper Peter Collinge that stopped Mossley from being a goal down within the first five minutes of the match after Antoni Sarcevic effortlessly sliced open the barrier of white shirts in front of him. The ease with which he bore down on the visitors goal should have served as a warning for the Lilywhites but it went ignored and they were punished for it in the 21st minute. Picking the ball up on the halfway line, Sarcevic moved unchallenged to the edge of the Mossley box and a short pass into the path of Kris Dennis gave his team mate the opportunity to the find the net with a low shot.
That Mossley were still only a single goal behind by the half hour point of the match was a touch surprising but not quite as surprising as the goal which enabled them to go into the break on level terms with their hosts. Before Steve Moore netted the equaliser from the penalty spot – Woodley's punishment for a clumsy and unnecessary challenge by Matt Cotton on Mike Fish – the Lilywhites had shown absolutely no threat as an attacking force at all.
Unfortunately the goal didn't lay any foundations for better showing after the interval. Woodley continued to look the better of the two sides and Collinge was again called upon a couple of times to keep them at bay. In the 73rd minute however he was beaten for the second time in the match.
A disastrously worked corner routine allowed the home side to quickly counter but their surge forward looked to have come to nothing as the Mossley defence broke up the attack. The sighs of relief from the visiting fans on the terraces were caught mid-exhale though as a sloppy pass handed the ball straight back to Woodley and from the halfway line, Gary Gee lobbed the ball over a furiously back-pedalling Collinge and into the net.
In response Mossley managed to muster a couple of half chances before the end of the game – substitute Nathan Neequaye hit the side netting and an effort from distance by Matty Kay was spilt by Ben Connett – but the home sides claim on the three points was never really challenged.
The final whistle was the cue for some cup winning-esque scenes as Woodley celebrated only their second league win of the season, while Mossley were left to ruminate on a performance that was far, far below the standard they've shown recently.
Report by SJNR
pic by Smiffy