Macclesfield Town 0-0 Rochdale (Pre-season Friendly)
Well it's that time of the year again, pre-season at the Moss Rose- and what better way to start off than with a tough game against opponents from two divisions above? With games to come against other League One sides in the form of Bury and Sheffield United, the Silkmen have clearly stated their intent as to the quality of team they hope to be able to compete against. With no goals from two friendly matches so far, including a 0-0 draw with Kidsgrove and a 0-3 defeat against Nantwich, I was hopeful of a goal but not necessarily a win today.
Rochdale will too have been hoping to kick a bit more spark into their pre-season run, having lost 0-1 against AFC Fylde and sneaking past Chester by a narrow 1-0 scoreline so far. The Dale had a good campaign last year, finishing 8th in League One and with players like Noble-Lazarus and Ian Henderson at their disposal it would be interesting to see what sort of team turned up at Moss Rose on a sunny Cheshire afternoon.
|It was like I'd never been away, up the Silkmen!|
After attending a 4 goal draw in Dumfries just 4 days ago, it was great to be back in Macclesfield surrounded by the regular faces and a cheap pint. It's very rare that you find a place which sells a pint for under 3 quid, but the McIllroy Suite is always trusty and friendly for home and away fans to enjoy. With that, I had a scout through the pre-match programme and reminisced about my glory days on Football Manager 2013 when I took Rochdale to 10th in the Premier League- a team which included mid 30's wingers Adam Johnson and Ashley Young. Good times.
|Always a joy to see the MTFC Carpet in the McIllroy Suite.|
The Silkmen lined up with a team which I wouldn't imagine to be too far from our opening XI against Torquay, with Turnbull, Whitaker and Pilkington all starting and Branagan sporting the No.1 Jersey again after the departure of Rhys Taylor. Rochdale had a strong line-up too, with Reuben Noble-Lazarus being highlighted as a key man up against our right-back Andy Halls. No Ian Henderson today, but with Alessandra and Lund in the starting XI for the Dale it was bound to be a stern test. My pre-match prediction was 1-2 to the Dale. So, as the game kicked off the opening 10 minutes provided very little in efforts on goal, with only one effort heading towards the Silkmen's goal. It certainly had a friendly feel about the game, so much so that the Linesman even shouted "don't foul, don't foul" every time the ball was in a position by the left wing (cheers, Coach!) and at one point when a foul was given against Andy Halls over on the right, the chap behind me said to the lady he was with, "Oooh, that was a good 'en. He's usually good value for a dozen of them over a season!" and then expressed his disappointment that he wasted one of them in a friendly. The big lad up-front for the Silkmen, Jack Sampson, had a similar playing style to Macc-born Peter Crouch and even replicated his play to the extent of accumulating half a dozen offsides in the first half. He was a handful for the Dale's defence though, looking good with his feet and overall hold-up play. As half-time approached I decided to nip to the toilet before the rest of the fans followed suit and it was at this point where I saw the highlight of the afternoon. Whilst at the Queen of the South game I made reference to an out of date Status Quo poster, however, in the urinal here at Moss Rose I found myself reading a poster which was 13 (THIRTEEN!) years out of date. When I was 11-years old, the chances are that I had a copy of Pro Evolution Soccer 2, little did I know that at the age of 24 I would be stood looking at the same advertisement and thinking "wow, that looks like a great game!"
|"PES 2 is the greatest football game ever" Macclesfield are a vintage club, to say the least.|
At half time, with the score at 0-0, I went to the bar and messaged Tom, one half of the legendary Partizan Bristle (https://twitter.com/partizanbristle), who was watching his Rovers side "being spanked" by an Arsenal XI. We have a Stoke XI to come to Moss Rose later on in pre-season, so hopefully the spankings will stay in Bristol. It is at this point in the day where I like to find my "Pint of Football Moment" in the programme- and today's was an absolute blinder! In a section labelled "10 things you didn't know about... Rochdale" I found point 9 to be hugely educational. "It was claimed that Adolf Hitler liked Rochdale's Town Hall so much that he wanted to ship it to Nazi Germany, had they won WWII." Had I known this when I did A-Level History, I have no doubt that I would've gotten an 'A'!
|A splendidly evil looking building, indeed.|
So, the second half was under-way and it seemed likely by now that Macc's first goal of the pre-season was going to have to wait for another time. The most likely way we were going to score was through the terrible distribution of Dale keeper Johny Diba, who seemed to enjoy slicing the ball like it were a piece of cheese. He did, however, have the skills of a frustrated outfield player as he twice took the ball under his control from a back pass and took on Silkmen strikers like a young John Barnes. Throughout the second half Noble-Lazarus continued to be man-marked and stopped by Andy Halls, who was Player of the Match in my eyes. Every time he turned with the ball and tried to burst into the box, Halls hacked the ball away and kept his cool against the pacey number 11. Not much else followed in the second half, with Macc throwing on a couple of trialists and it wasn't until the last 20 minutes when the Silkmen almost took the lead. New signing Kris Dennis struck a shot against the crossbar and provided a rare "ooooooh" sound from the home support. Another followed in stoppage time when Theo Bailey-Jones weaved his way into the box and smashed a low shot towards goal, only to be palmed away by the keeper. Full Time, Macc 0-0 Dale.
|Keep it up lads, the goals will come soon enough.|
Not a dull game, despite the lack of chances, as Macc looked more than comfortable against a League One side. The next game I will be at will probably be Sheff United, so it'll be interesting to see how they kick on after games in-between against Bury and Stockport County.