If there was a TV company showing highlights of the Northern Premier League West division, then their opening set of highlights would have no doubt come from Seel Park as Kidsgrove Athletic fought back from 3-1 down to take a point at playoff-chasing Mossley.
On-loan striker Max McCarthy, who had joined the Grove on a month loan from Stoke City, bundled home with just two minutes to go to ensure Kidsgrove brought a well-deserved point back to Staffordshire. McCarthy was one of two debutants who featured for the Grove as midfielder Ethan Padden started the game, having arrived from Stalybridge Celtic in the week.
Kidsgrove should have taken the lead after just five minutes of play when Anthony Malbon’s back heel looped up for Kingsley Adu-Gyamfi to attempt a stunning overhead kick, but, it was to rattle Dale Latham’s crossbar.
Adu-Gyamfi was not to be denied just minutes later as he gave Kidsgrove a much-deserved lead. Defender Oliver Jepson had ventured forward and, he flicked the ball into the forward’s path, which allowed Adu-Gyamfi an easy finish to get his seventh goal of the season.
However, they say in football that you’re always at your most vulnerable when you score and, that was the case for Kidsgrove, as Harry Pratt drew Mossley level almost straight from the restart as he lashed an unstoppable strike past Ryan Brown from the edge of the area.
To make matters worse for Kidsgrove, talisman Malbon limped off with an injury that he seemed to have picked up in the warm-up. It allowed McCarthy to come on for his debut but, losing Malbon would be the last thing Scott Dundas would have wanted with flying winger John Johnston already on the sidelines.
Mossley top scorer Declan Evans gave the hosts the lead on 18 minutes when he beat the offside trap to get on the end of Bailey Marsden’s cross and slide the ball past the onrushing Brown. It was a disappointing goal for Kidsgrove to concede as the defenders all seemed to stop and wait for an offside flag that was never going to come.
The hosts then wasted a glorious opportunity on 28 minutes to go 3-1 up when Andy Keogh headed wide of the goal. The Mossley skipper would have been frustrated with the miss as he had been left unmarked inside the Kidsgrove six-yard box.
Meanwhile, Kidsgrove had two chances to equalise before the interval. First of all, Ricky Bridge forced Latham into a decent save from a close-range free kick. Then, shortly afterwards, Oliver Jepson headed an effort just inches wide of the goal from a Callum Leigh corner.
Mossley did finally extend their lead on the hour mark when Jordan Butterworth’s cross was volleyed goalwards by Jack Banister. It fell to Ben Richardson, who saw his first shot saved by Brown but, the rebound fell back to Richardson, who made no mistake the second time around as he tucked the ball past the Grove keeper. The Kidsgrove players protested to the assistant referee that Richardson was offside when the original ball came to him but, no matter how hard the players appealed the referee wasn’t going to change his mind.
Dundas reacted to going 3-1 down by bringing on Callum Lovatt and Danny Cocks to add a bit more steel into the Kidsgrove midfield and, it certainly worked in the Grove’s favour as they started to get on the front foot despite being two goals behind. The best chances came from McCarthy but, he was to put them straight at Latham.
Callum Leigh pulled one goal back for Kidsgrove on 82 minutes when he scored a fantastic free-kick that flew into the top corner of Latham’s goal. It had left the Mossley goalkeeper rooted to the spot but, the Kidsgrove fans weren’t going to care as they had a glimmer of hope that they could get something out of this game.
Kidsgrove got their much-deserved equaliser in the final minute of normal time. McCarthy was able to slam the ball home after an almighty scramble in the Mossley penalty area in which Kidsgrove had two bites at the apple before McCarthy was able to get the ball over the line. It caused chaos behind the goal as fans and players celebrated the goal.
A point was the least Kidsgrove deserved for their performance and, it meant they had taken four points in two games from teams in and around the playoffs. If these types of results can continue then Kidsgrove might just be able to finish the season strongly.
After the game, I spoke to Kidsgrove manager Scott Dundas to get his thoughts on the game.
Mossley: Latham, Richardson, Sass, Butterworth, Evans, Matthews, Hickman (Fawns, 75), Marsden, Keogh (Brown, 69), Pratt and Banister (Morris, 82).
Unused subs: Mason and Hadlow.
Kidsgrove Athletic: R.Brown, Bromfield, Bridge, Padden (C.Lovatt, 60), Jepson, O’Riodran, Leigh, Blake, Adu-Gyamfi, Malbon (McCarthy, 11) and K.Brown (Cocks, 60).
Unused subs: Bergin and Johnston.