Mossley crashed out of the FA Cup at Seel Park on Saturday with a disappointing performance against the North West Counties Football League leaders, who out-played the Lillywhites to progress to the next round.
In player-manager Neil Prince, Bootle had the game’s class act. He always seemed to have time on the ball, controlling the midfield area and scored an absolute beauty to put his side two up…but more on that later.
Mossley had few chances in the game, but will particularly rue two efforts that might have produced goals that preceded the visitors heading to the other end and netting. Had either gone in, momentum would have been altered and the result could have been different.
The first of those chances was on 6 minutes when a Steve Halford pass from the right back area was flicked around the corner by Gavin Salmon through the Bootle back line. Nathan Taylor started his running behind centre-back Green but out-sprinted him to get a sight of goal. However, Taylor couldn’t pick a moment to shoot and as he continued to run the angle got tighter until eventually his only option was to cut the ball back, only to discover he had no support.
Within a minute Bootle were ahead. Rowney and Gee collided in midfield allowing Black to shoot from distance only for Pearson to deny him with a flying save. However, from the corner an overhead kick was blocked and fell to Jak Gray whose first shot hit the bar, but the ball bounced back to the diminutive striker and he made no mistake with his second effort.
Bootle took control as Mossley played with too much tension, panicking about the score despite there being more than ample time to recover. As a result their play was ragged, passes going astray all over the pitch. However, hope that they might settle was rekindled on 20 minutes when a Rowney free kick was curling in, only for Porter to stretch and tip it over his bar.
Again, Bootle took full advantage, as a minute later they doubled their lead, Prince scoring his golden goal. He picked up the ball in midfield 30 yards from the Mossley goal, and whilst the home side will argue that he should have been closed down there was no option but to applaud as he controlled, looked up, and placed the ball over Pearson into the top corner. It was a special effort.
With a two goal cushion, Bootle looked very comfortable, with only half chances for Taylor and Halford before half time, which the visitors matched. Prince & Gray had impressed with their skills and pace whilst big centre forward O'Connor showed old fashioned No 9 skills in winning headers and free kicks, giving young Keil O’Brien difficult afternoon in an wily display.
Mossley energy levels were noticeably higher after the break and on 52 minutes Mark Haslam, brought on after the break, put in a delicious delivery from a free kick, but the ball skimmed off Halford’s head from five yards, when any contact of significance would surely have seen Mossley back in the game. To add insult to injury, within a minute the lead extended to three goals as The Lillywhites switched off at a free kick, when instead of delivering the expected cross Prince played a passed ball down the right to Gray inside the box. Gray was able to jink towards goal too easily and from a tight angle scored via the inside of the far post. Game over.
Whilst Mark Haslam tested the keeper from distance, the ball just not dropping for Salmon on the rebound in a way that he could strike it properly, there was little Mossley could do to penetrate the Bootle back line. It took until the 93rd minute for the forward line to get behind the defence, and Porter was off his line early to narrow the angle and deny Salmon from the edge of the 6 yard area.
Mossley must regroup prior to Tuesday’s difficult home game with Curzon Ashton, whilst on this display Bootle look a good bet to win promotion into Mossley’s league for next season.
Report by Jonathan Haggart