NPL West: Ramsbottom United 1-2 Mossley
Substitute Jack Banister made it a happy new year for Mossley with a 79th minute winning goal to re-awaken the Lilywhites season after a difficult last couple of months of the old year.
The joy and relief amongst players, management and fans at the final whistle was palpable. The 2-1 result in Mossley's favour was fully deserved and the Lilywhites should now be able to begin the year with a regained confidence and the impetus to carry the team resurgently forward into 2022.
Without the unwell Antony Brown and Ben Richardson there were call ups to the starting eleven for Connor Morris and Jack Grundy and both performed well in a game where every Mossley player, to a man, gave their all to achieve the desperately needed win.
Rams keeper Tom Stewart was the busier on the day as Mossley forced the pace but composure in front was goal was understandably lacking after the recent struggles. Morris, Andy Keogh and Mason Fawns were all denied by Stewart as Bailey Marsden and Jordan Butterworth bossed the middle of the park, while at the other end Ramsbottom lacked any real guile going forward even when they won a succession of corners midway through the half.
The second half saw Mossley kick on and finally and deservedly take the lead on 54 minutes with a well crafted goal. Freddie Sass and Harry Pratt combined well on the left wing and Pratt's superb delivery found Andy Keogh perfectly placed to plant a firm header past Stewart and into the Ramsbottom net.
The goal forced the home side to up their game, but the equaliser was still somewhat unexpected when former Droylsden star Domaine Rouse turned sharply on 65 minutes to rifle home a 20 yard shot that gave Hadlow no chance to restore parity largely against the run of play.
Ramsbottom, sensing they could turn the game around introduced the imposing Hugo Rodriguez and he became the obvious target for a number of high balls into the Mossley box. however, the Mossley defence were more than up to the task and the Lilywhites remained the more threatening side.
The winning goal, when it arrived with a little over ten minutes remaining, was of high quality. The outstanding Bailey Marsden won a midfield duel and drove forward releasing the lively Jack Banister, who had replaced Morris fifteen minutes earlier, down the left flank. The ex Widnes wingman shaped to cut inside his marker before skipping around the outside and smashing home a superb angled drive past a startled Tom Stewart to the great delight of the large contingent of traveling Lilywhites fans.
Ramy continued to deliver high balls into the Mossley box but Hadlow only had one real save to make and he did so with ease as Mossley ran the clock down comfortably to get the new year off to the desired start with the tough trip to serious promotion contenders Warrington Rylands next up for the hopefully now resurgent Lilywhites.