I didnt have a good feeling on the morning prior to the Radcliffe Borough match. Eight league losses in a row doesnt really encourage good feelings and I admit to possessing an unhealthy burden of pessimism before the match. Ossett Town had just downsized their leadership team (ok, sacked the manager!) and were, in more ways than one, rudderless.
As I sat hunched over a pre-match lager in an Ossett pub and enjoying one of my favourite pastimes, watching Manchester United lose to a relegation candidate, I felt a sense of dread. No, it wasnt a dodgy bag of Nobbys Nuts. It was a definite feeling that Town would lose today and I couldnt see anything positive to focus on for the future.
Incidentally, its quite difficult to find a decent pub in Ossett to have a pre match drink. The Sam Smiths pub is cheap and there’s the added benefit of being called “sonny” and “young man” by the locals in spite of being well into my middle age, but its hardly the most comfortable place in town. The George is always shut or at least it appears to be and another central pub the name of which escapes me or more likely ive just tried very hard to forget, smells like its full of smelly socks. The Maypole is my preferred option due to the screening of sky sports matches as an hors d’oeuvres to the main event a few yards down the road at Ingfield.
Seeing Sunderland beat Manchester United set me thinking. If some no hopers languishing at the arse end of the league can defy the odds and win against a struggling Lancashire team, then surely Town can do the same. So with renewed hope and new found optimism I skipped down the road whistling “I will survive” clutching seven pound coins tightly in my hand. I actually set off a bit early thinking that I would allow time for the queue at the turnstile. Afterall, social media had been awash all week with tweets and pokes encouraging the townsfolk of Ossett to light their torches and brandish their pitchforks to support Town in their time of need and see off the evil Lancashire insurgents. I neednt have bothered. I could tell the turnout was poor by the fact the “golden goal” tub had at least 85 tickets left in it and they were announcing the crowd changes to the players over the tannoy.
The match itself was pretty exciting to be honest. Town started on the front foot but Brown squandered an early chance to take the lead. To a man, the players looked like they were trying to impress the new manager even though they didnt know who he was yet. Town were playing well and creating chances and definitely the better side. In recent games Town appeared disjointed and lacking coordination but this was different and I dont think it was just down to the quality of the opposition.
But, just when it was looking so promising, Town conceded a goal from a corner. Foster the scorer for Borough. Backhouse then saved well from another Radcliffe attack. Town had chances to level the scores, including a penalty appeal, but all to no avail.
The second half was more of the same. Both sides had chances before Assenso scored for Town from a corner in the 73rd minute. Shortly after coming on as a sub, Mangham went on a storming run down the flank and put in a great cross to Moore, but his header was saved by the Radcliffe keeper. A 1-1 draw was looking likely but then, towards the end of normal time, Radcliffe’s Lafferty was sent from the field following a head butt incident. Im not quite sure why the referee showed the yellow (Lafferty’s second) prior to the red rather than just a red card but, whatever the ins and outs, Radcliffe were down to ten men.
There was, however, to be a horrible sting in the tail to this game when, with seconds remaining, Radcliffe scored through Foster. I have to admit to not seeing this goal. Yes, I was still in the ground, but I was otherwise engaged when it happened. I was actually checking scores from other games on my phone. So, there you have it. A good performance from Town that deserved more than the null points they got. Something to work on perhaps? A silver lining?
That sense of hopeless dread I felt in the pub before the game had lessened just a little. With a new supremo at the helm perhaps Evo Stik safety in possible. Time will tell.