Tuesday, 4 August 2015

01/08/15 Review: Macclesfield Town vs Congleton Town

Macclesfield Town 7-1 Congleton Town (Pre-season Friendly)
Moss Rose

After a two day gap from football I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms, so off I popped to Moss Rose again to watch the final of Macc's pre-season friendlies. Up until a couple of days before, we were all set to play a Stoke City XI and the outside chance of perhaps seeing Peter Crouch playing in his home-town was making me look forward to a great pre-season test. In the end, they cancelled and we were now due to play Congleton Town, the friendly next-door neighbours, the Ned Flanders of lower league football.

I was almost tempted to wear my Congleton Town top.
In fairness to the Bears, it was good of them to come forth and fill a gap that helped the Silkmen just 7 days before the Conference kick-off. I had once watched a team of Macc Trialists lose 2-1 at the hands of Congleton, but I expected a much better display from our first team- even though Congleton had just beaten the mighty Poynton FC by 2 goals to 1 on Tuesday. Having arrived at the ground early, I took a few minutes to study the team sheet, which included a trialist goalkeeper starting in the home goal. We also had a couple of trialists on the bench too and with the season drawing close Askey would have to either sign them up or ship them out soon enough. The clouds looked ready to release a bucket load at any point, so I could've quite easily been ready to sit through a wash-out.

Mr Parsons warming-up for the big derby.
My pre-match prediction was that we would win by 3, hopefully 3-0 with a clean-sheet. The team took the pre-season squad photo, trialist keeper and all, before getting straight into position for kick-off- and here we go! The Bears truly looked ferocious from kick-off and weren't taking this game lightly. With the opening exchanges there was more than one foul given against the Congleton midfield and Danny Rowe was instantly hacked to the ground. To make matters worse, the left-back Haynes-Brown was stamped on minutes later and had to be stretchered off. The old man in from of me turned around at this point to inform me of his concern. "Bloody hell, we're down to a 13-man squad now!" and then the man next to him said, "You'll have to come out of retirement at this rate, Bob." An old Silkmen player apparently. Nice to see him showing his support for the club still.

Congleton weren't quite as friendly as anticipated.
At least the last one got back on to his feet.
So, with 6 minutes played and two players injured we finally got cracking with the good stuff. As time went on Macc looked dangerous, they pressed a lot, won corners and looked like scoring some goals eventually. Around the half-hour mark Chris Holroyd crossed one in which was just about poked home by Kristian Dennis for the opener. Macc 1-0 Congleton. Shortly after, the rain poured down and it was beginning to look like a proper old-fashioned derby match. We'd had the hard tackles, the bad weather and there was still an hour left, if the pitch could take it. Macc continued to dominate and as the half-time whistle dawned upon us the traditionally tropical Macclesfield weather took a turn, with the sun shining through the clouds and the rain subsiding. It didn't affect the footballing though, with a few more fouls from Congleton showing that they seemed to lack the fitness to keep up with their rivals. A solid first-half and a clean sheet for the under-tested trialist keeper.
"I hope he's being paid for this", shouted one fan at the linesman.
I decided to watch the subs and trialists warm-up at half-time and I was absolutely stunned to see that one lad looked like Tinchy Stryder, so much so that I assumed he was one of the Under-16 players. Meanwhile, the Congleton subs were having a good laugh, kicking the ball about and mocking each other when they missed the open goal they were shooting at. Safe to say that Congleton were as ready as can be for their season in the North-West regional division and were just happy to have a run-out against a professional team. Despite our friendly against Stoke being cancelled, the Bears did mange to have a kick-about with a young Potters squad, losing 2-0. As the teams came back out looking fresh and dried off, we sat back and looked forward to more positive play from the Silkmen.

Macclesfield Town, we take stadium security seriously.
And positive play was what we got. Tony Diagne, who had swapped over to the left following the first half injury of Haynes-Brown, swung an early cross in which Dennis solidly headed in to double his and Macc's tally. Macc 2-0 Congleton. At this point we threw the ever-improving Theo Bailey-Jones on as it looked like we'd taken a firm grasp on the match. We kept on with the attacking form, despite the rain restarting, with Theo smashing a shot towards the goal which eventually went in thanks to the pouncing captain Whitaker. Macc 3-0 Congleton. With the game slipping away, Congleton went back to the tactic which kept them in touch during the first half- FOUL EVERYONE! This backfired though, as substitute James Poole curled in a truly delightful free-kick from 25-yards. Not too dissimilar to the one I saw in Dumfries a couple of weeks back. Macc 4-0 Congleton. The good thing for the Bears was that they weren't 4 down for too long, the bad news was that it soon became 5. The impact of Bailey-Jones and Poole coming on fresh was too overpowering for the away side and it was in fact the two who combined again, this time with Bailey-Jones adding the final touch. Macc 5-0 Congleton. As with always with the Silkmen, it seemed to be going to well and complacency kicked in. A corner was conceded and from it we let in a sloppy goal. The new number 1, Ritchie Branagan, flapped about a bit and as the ball went over his head it landed on the toe-end of an away man who bundled it in- the lads weren't happy. Macc 5-1 Congleton. It was nice to see the Bears get a goal, mainly because it allowed me to see how many fans they had intermingled amongst ours. I counted 4.

It was raining goals- and also rain.
Two key events of the afternoon happened around this point. The first was that we brought Tynchy Stryder on and another chap was simply announced as "Mister Holmes", who both looked like good players. Secondly, the former Macc player from earlier turned around again and told me that the last time he remembers us playing Congleton, we beat them 7-1 in our final warm-up game and then that season we didn't win our first match until after Christmas. He personally was hoping for one more goal and that's it. So with less than 15 minutes to go we kicked-off again and shortly after added another goal. Substitute Striker Marsden had barely had a touch, but he showed good movement to get into position and add yet another goal. Macc 6-1 Congleton. As the old man prayed and the game came to a close, surely we wouldn't get the cursed 7-1. Well, we did! New boy Whitehead had nowhere to go and nobody to pass to, so he curled one towards the goal and surely enough it found the top-corner. Game over, Macc 7-1 Congleton. (I'm not as patronising as the TV updates so I won't write SEVEN in brackets to emphasise it any more than this bracketed sentence already has.)

Following the match I witnessed some surprising behaviour from two of our players as they brawled with each other on the half-way line. Luckily most fans didn't see this stupidity as they left the ground, but needless to say it was a bad end to a very good day for the lads. Thinking they would go back to the dressing room and celebrate a successful last run out, they will no doubt have gone in on a low because of this internal affair- hopefully a one-off! Anyway, enough of that rubbish- time to grab some fish and chips and head on home. Well done lads, bring on the season ahead.

The only decent Fish & Tatey within 150 miles, spot on!

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