The paths of Moseley and Otley, so often entwined in recent seasons, converge once more at Cross Green tomorrow in a fixture that provides an important indicator for the year ahead.
So far this season Ian Smith’s men have summarily dismissed teams below them in the table. While they have invented new and ingenious methods for self harm against National One’s big fish, the small fry have easily devoured.
That has allowed Moseley to build a healthy 14 point margin between themselves and the five teams who will not be extended a Championship invitation at the end of the current campaign.
Another win tomorrow – an eighth of the season – and the security of their position will be ratcheted up a few more notches.
It will, however, be cranked down a few if they leave Yorkshire with an 11th defeat and that is Otley’s motivation. Almost a third of the division have their eyes on Mose’s 11th place in the table and while Otley might not have the wherewithal to snatch it, they might just help someone else do so.
If that isn’t sufficient motivation for the hosts, the fact it was Mose whose late season resurgence in 2007 condemned them to a bitter relegation certainly will be.
Skipper Gareth Taylor, an old lag when it comes to visits to a venue that off the pitch is one of the most hospitable in the division but on it is perhaps the least welcoming, knows his men are in for a testing afternoon.
“They will be looking at this as a must-win,” Taylor said. “You come across these teams in the second half of the season, we know what it’s about because we have done it ourselves.
“We have done this for the last two years and picked on certain games as must-win. But if we go up there and are clinical and play to our strengths, I know we will come away with a result. But we have to be on top of our game.”
That was not the case last time out. Moseley’s inspiration comes from a fortnight’s solitary confinement – following the cancellation of last weekend’s encounter with Exeter – and the extra long period it afforded them to stew on their non-performance at Coventry on Boxing Day.
Harsh words were spoken in the aftermath of that match and they have yet to be actioned.
“We were disappointing the week before against Newbury and came away with a win, disappointing against Coventry and lost.
“We should have been up for that Coventry game, it was a local derby, but we weren’t.
‘‘They turned us over through our poor play more than their good play. We really were very poor, that has been addressed and we are just itching to get back into the groove of playing.
“We really have got to put in a performance this weekend and kick-start this second half of the season.
“Coventry showed that we need to be able to get up for every game on its merits each week. I don’t think we can rely on just turning up against teams that are below us. We didn’t do that at the start of the season, we can’t do that now.
“In that respect Coventry was a real good kick up the bum for us. Hopefully we can take that into this weekend because there is no harder place to go and get a result.
“We were really disappointed it was called off against Exeter because it would have been perfect to get back in the saddle, we are just hoping it will be on this Saturday and we can go to town because there’s no better place to earn your spurs by playing well.”
Moseley’s cause will be boosted by the return to fitness of Terry Sigley. The experienced tighthead – never more than tomorrow will Mose need one of those – is back after suffering a bad gash on his leg against Bedford in November.
They also have half a Gloucester contingent on which to call. Importantly Jack Adams is available in midfield but neither Charlie Sharples nor Henry Trinder will be free because of ‘A’ team commitments the following Monday.