Mossley boss Campbell Graham maintains belief ahead of cup clash with Crumlin Star
He may be in charge of the lowest-ranked team in the Border Cup quarter-finals, but Campbell Graham is perfectly calm ahead of Mossley’s visit to all-conquering Crumlin Star.
The Division 1C side are by far and away the competition’s rank outsiders, but wins against Kilroot, Orangefield OB, and most recently and impressively, Immaculata, have boosted the growing belief within the Mossley camp that they have nothing to fear.
However, the fact that their rich cup form is in such sharp contrast with their league form should probably be a matter for concern. Yet if it is, Graham isn’t letting it show.
He told The Park: “Crumlin Star are a good side, but I have confidence in the ability of my players. I believe the higher you play, the easier it is, in a way.
“Teams in the leagues above us allow you to play, they give you more time on the ball, and show you a bit more respect. I think that has shown in the games we have won, but also when we lost against Ballynahinch United and Downshire YM but still played well.”
Unquestionably, it is the result against Immaculata, one of the most upwardly-mobile clubs to have emerged in amateur football in a generation which has got everyone standing up to take notice.
Graham realises it was a major scalp for his team, but he is adamant that this was no one-off, and is backing his men to continue their winning ways.
“I think we are capable of giving any team a run for their money,” he went on, “but I was surprised by Immaculata. We were 2-1 down, had a man sent off and conceded a penalty, but got two late goals to bring it into extra time. We were the strongest team in extra time, and we deserved the win.”
With such a gap in standard between results in the cups and in the league, it’s surprising former Greenisland Boys youth coach Graham isn’t more frustrated than he currently is.
Mossley have just three points after four defeats in their first five league games, yet their manager has had selection problems dogging him, and believes he has the personnel to help drag them away from the bottom of the table.
Graham stated: “I’m not making excuses when I say that I haven’t had the same XI for any two league matches. People just haven’t been available for a lot of different reasons.
“I’m not worried about it, as there is a long, long way to go. Though I guess it’s one thing saying we won’t get relegated, and another thing doing it. You see it all the time in England, with people saying a club is too good to down, and then it happens.”
However, Mossley’s strike force is strong enough to help get fire them up the league when they eventually return to their 1C campaign in a few weeks time.
The unstoppable prowess of nine-goal teenager Lee Graham is complemented by the experience and creativity of ex-Rathfern Rangers striker Colin Andrews.
If the pair can hit form in this forthcoming Border Cup tie, easily their biggest game of the season so far, they may just be able to give their opponents something to think about.
Graham added: “We will give Crumlin Star the respect they’re due, but I won’t hold my boys back. They will be going all-out attack.
“We played them last year, the week after they won the Border Cup, and even though they beat us 4-1, they only got two of their goals against us in the last 10 minutes. I know we can play well against them.”
Crumlin’s fellow Premier Division side Albert Foundry are also seeking a place in the Border Cup semi-final to put their disappointment at recent Irish Cup and Steel & Sons Cup elimination behind them with a tricky trip to the Olympia Leisure Centre to face St Pat’s YM.
The other two Premier Division teams remaining, Kilmore Rec and Killyleagh have drawn each other for an enticing Co Down derby, while 1B’s 1st Bangor OB will hope to upset the odds away to 1A’s Downpatrick.