When Manchester City lost to Juventus earlier this season, it came after a run of eleven straight Premier league victories. They then lost their following two league games. Brighton and Hove Albion remained unbeaten in the Championship until 19th December, before losing to Middlesbrough 3-0. They then went on to lose four of their next five games. If ever there was proof that football is a mind game and not just a physical battle, then there you have it…. and so it is with Ossett Albion. The Albion finished 2015 on a run of eight straight league wins, taking them up to third place in the Evo-Stik First Division North. This is the highest league placing in their history and they picked up two consecutive Club of the Month awards in the process. So, all credit to manager Richard Tracey … and the players, of course!. However, the run could not go on for ever and, sure enough, came to an end on 2nd January 2016 with a 1-0 home defeat to Bamber Bridge.
After that defeat and with Manchester City, Brighton and many other examples in mind I should have taken myself straight off to the bookies and put a crisp ten shilling note (50p to you youngsters) on Albion’s upcoming opponents, Lancaster City, who they hosted at Dimple Wells in their next match. Of course, Lancaster won the match 3-1 and suddenly Albion’s successes of late 2015 began to seem a long time ago.
Still, I was sure it was just a minor hiccup and, with a quickening step I took myself to Dimple Wells to see Albion host high-flying Northwich Victoria. In spite of a fairly even start to the game, it quickly became clear that The Unicorns 2016 form was not just a hiccup and I began to wonder if I was watching Ossett Town in disguise when Albion went behind on 20 mins. Summerskill rose like a colossus to loop a header over Souter in the Albion goal. Worse was to come when, on the half hour mark, Bennett doubled The Vics lead. It became clear to all but the most optimistic home fans among the 174 in attendance that there was no way back when, very early after the break, The Vics scored again through Howard. Game, set and match. Final score 3-0 to Northwich Victoria.
As I was leaving the ground I thought again about Manchester City and Brighton. Why is it that after such impressive form, teams that suffer a loss find it so difficult to get back on track straight away? Here’s hoping that Albion find the answers and go on to secure themselves a play-off place. I glance at the league table in my program. It will be difficult for Albion now as the teams just below them are gathering like the black clouds I see over the floodlights as I make my way home.