Saturday, 28 August 2010

Mossley AFC 2 Witton Albion 0

FA Cup Preliminary Round
Attendance: 221

At times on my football travels I feel a bit of a sad bastard. Take today for instance. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and I desert the family to drive 70 miles to watch, let’s face it, is a pretty insignificant match. And why Mossley (near Oldham)? Well, I’d hoped to start my season fittingly with a summers day out in the North York Moors watching the village team from Stokesley play my old cup favourites Harrogate Railway but Stokesley lost their replay in the previous round. Mossley, the next best bet, had appealed ever since I saw pics of it on this recommended blog.

I was starting to reconsider the wisdom of my selection as I descended from Saddleworth Moor (never can drive past that without thinking about the Moors Murderers) in one of the squally showers that were to persist throughout a chilly afternoon.

Surprisingly, there were spectators heading to the ground 20 mins before kick-off. Cars were parked with one wheel on the pavement and the car park was full. The distance I’d driven, the weather and the size of the crowd all hinted of a tie a round or two later in the competition rather than one which would require the winners to win another four times to make the first round proper.

Approaching its centenary, Seel Park is a quirky mix of the old, the new, the jerry-built and the yet-to-be-built and boasts a fine Pennine backdrop to rival Stocksbridge Park Steels on the Yorkshire side of the hills. A flag flew in one corner but my favourite feature was the sweet little supporters’ club shop (right) which looked like it spent its summers as a chalet at Butlins.

There were few chances in the first half. Mossley took the lead 10 mins before half-time when Hampton was put through by Rowney, had his first shot saved then put away the rebound. In the first 15 mins of the second half Witton (near Northwich, also in Cheshire) made three substitutions and then McPherson went off injured. Demonstrating the ‘you play better with 10 men’ theories and spurred on by some vocal support, Witton laid seige to the Mossley goal. They deserved at least an equaliser but, most unjustly, the only additional score came at the other end of the pitch with just minutes to go. Man of the match was Watson of Mossley. With his bald pate and upright stance and sporting a white jersey with black stripes down the sleeves he looked like Attilio Lombardo playing for Real Madrid. Witton have an equally tenuous connection with Barcelona; a charity (Help for Heroes) benefits from their shirt sponsorship.

That was about it, really, other than to mention that I caught the ball for the first time in my spectacting career. There will be more remarkable occasions to come on the FA Cup trail this season, I feel sure.