MOSSLEY 1, RUNCORN LINNETS 2
Ryan Brooke made a goalscoring return to Seel Park where he ended Mossley’s 100 per cent start to the season.
The former Oldham Athletic striker scored what ultimately proved the matchwinner, a goal worthy of winning any match as his 25-yard drive arrowed into the top corner of the net.
And it left Lilywhites’ fans wondering why he did not replicate that form for them last season when he had a modest return of five goals from 30 appearances.
Mossley, with a perfect record from their first four competitive games in the Northern Premier League and Emirates FA Cup, came up against their sternest challenge yet.
It was a steep learning curve for new-look Mossley who were 2-0 down midway through the opening period.
They reorganised at half time and halved the deficit and were on the front foot when substitute Jes Uchegbulam was foolishly sent off 15 minutes from time for retaliating after being fouled.
The 10 men produced a heroic finish as the Linnets were left clinging on to their slender lead.
“I asked for a response at half time and got it. It showed how good we were, they were running the clock down and taking the ball into the corners,” explained manager David Fish.
“I wanted passion and desire and saw it in spades, especially when we were down to 10 men. I thought we would win when it was 11 against 11.”
Fish added it is a part of the learning curve for his young players are he was especially pleased with how 18-year-old central defender Jack Grundy handled vastly experienced Linnets’ striker Ben Wharton, the third highest scorer in Radcliffe Borough’s history.
Mossley’s manager was disappointed by Uchegbulam’s dismissal.
“The full back invited a response and Jes fell for the trap,” he reflected.
Linnets took the lead in the 15th minute when Craig Lindfield, a seasoned campaigner with more than 100 Football League appearances for Macclesfield Town and Accrington Stanley, found the top corner with a terrific strike from the edge of the box following a cut back from the right.
Brooke doubled the lead from 25 yards after Lilywhites’ captain Andy Keogh gave away possession in a dangerous area as he played the ball out of defence as Brooke administered punishment.
Mossley halved the deficit five minutes after the restart when Harry Pratt chested the ball down for Matty Waller who found the net with the sweetest of strikes from the edge of the box.
Fish threw on attacking substitutes Dylan Fitzgerald, Ryan Shenton and Uchegbulam and Mossley were firmly on the front foot.
The dynamics of the game changed when Uchegbulam was dismissed for his reaction after having his shirt pulled by James Short as he burst past the left back.
The two players squared up and Uchegbulam led with his head leaving referee Simon Robinson little option than to produce a red card.
Mossley’s 10 men appeared galvanised by the dismissal and Ben Richardson, Shenton and Fitzgerald all had chances in the closing stages to snatch a point which they deserved for their second half endeavours.