Sunday, 2 August 2015

29/07/15 Review: Macclesfield Town vs Sheffield United

Macclesfield Town 0-4 Sheffield United (Pre-season Friendly)
Moss Rose

Two games in two days makes for lots and lots of reviewy goodness. Second pre-season outing at Moss Rose for me and it was yet again versus tough League One opposition. This time, in the form of Sheff United, we would be facing our toughest opponents yet and following a 0-0 with Rochdale and a narrow 0-1 defeat against Bury we would need to be at our best to stand any chance. We had (finally) got off the mark with two goals against Stockport County in a 2-1 win, but this would be a whole different type of challenge. The Blades had just managed a 2-2 against Premier League side Newcastle in their last game- and following the re-signing of club idol Billy Sharp, they would be in the mood to show just why many are calling them favourites for promotion to the Championship this year.

Fresh from yesterday's trip to Vale I arrived nice and early in Macclesfield for a pre-match pub-crawl with some of the lads I know from Stafford. Proper, old-fashioned Yorkshire men was the best description- two Sheff United fans, one Man United fan, one Barnsley fan. When I arrived I was greeted by one of the guys with "oh no, he's wearing his Macclesfield top." which was followed by "Go on then, what you having?" Ahh good, an insult followed by a free pint.

Duh, duh, duh, duh, pre-match pub-crawl.
The pub crawl started in a place called 'The Treacle Tap', obviously not a football pub. I was the only person in there with a football top on and, even worse than that, everybody who walked past me made a point of starring at my top to see which top it was! On the plus side, I was hearing some great stories of football weekends, trips abroad and even the recent Euro U21 Tournament which the lads had been to. These guys were hardcore fans who knew every match they had been to and what every ground was like. One of the guys had been to Moss Rose in the 70's to watch Stafford Rangers beat us 3-0 in an FA Trophy 1/4 Final Replay. The two Blades fans said it must've been 25 years at least since they attended the ground. After a trip to a local chippy, we went to 'The Macc' pub before heading to the game.

Stafford Rangers won the FA Trophy in 1971-72 and they never looked back, or forwards.
Our line-up today was about as good as it's going to get, with the season looming and Torquay beckoning in just over a week. The Blades fans would've been delighted to see that Ireland International Conor Sammon, on-loan from Derby, and Billy Sharp were starting up front- which would easily prove to be the Silkmen's toughest test so far. The away side also boasted the talent of Jamal Campbell-Ryce, a player who I've always enjoyed watching, and dot on half 7 the game was under way. A fair few Macc fans had made the trip to the ground this evening, which was nice to see, but I have to take my metaphorical hat off to the Sheffield massive who outnumbered us in the away terrace.

The Blades out in full force.
Straight from the opening whistle the Blades looked ruthless, they attacked from the opening minute and looked like scoring a goal within the first couple of minutes. The midfield were looking good and passing the ball well, not giving the Whitehead or Whittaker much chance to grasp control. With 10 minutes gone a foul was made and up stepped Campbell-Ryce to take a free-kick. It was delightfully whipped in towards the post, where it was unfortunately met my Tony Diagne who couldn't help but turn it past his own keeper. Not a good start, Macc 0-1 Blades. The fans tried to give the lads a bit of encouragement at this point, as they kicked off and tried to start over. Alas, 3 minutes later a great bit of play from Campbell-Ryce was complimented by a lethal finish from Billy Sharp, the messiah was back. Macc 0-2 Blades. Fearing the goals were going to come thick and fast all evening, the home crowd went noticeably quieter and it wasn't until some good work from Rowe that a bit of life came back to the home fans, who appreciated a nice first touch and dart forwards. I found myself sat with some die-hard Silkmen supporters, a couple who are season ticket holders, and we had a good chat about players been and gone over the past few years, reminiscing of the days of Tyrone Barnett, Emile Sinclair and Ross Draper. As half time approached, Macc went close once more and the Blades almost extended their lead several times.

Half Time, 0-2 down and looking out for a silver lining.
10 days until the season starts and from 5 and a half friendlies so far the stats make for worse reading than some of the performances. 6 Played- 1 Win, 2 Draws, 3 Defeats, 2 Scored, 7 Conceded. We have, however, only played one team who are at a similar stature to ourselves (Stockport) and did beat them- and we had looked good against Rochdale and slumped to an unlucky defeat against Bury, so who knows, perhaps a good season could be on the cards. Today's "Pint of Football Moment" in the pre-season programme was another classic from the "10 things you didn't know about..." section. According to fact 9, "Former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron admitted in 2003 that he dreamed of playing for Sheffield United when he was younger."

Some say he only joined United so that he could be scouted by the Blades.
As it stood the Blades looked more than comfortable without the use of Juan, so I took my seat to see how the second half would play out. Having watched Campbell-Ryce go off just before half-time, I was hoping the midfield would be less dominant- how wrong I was. After 15 minutes of good play it was the substitute Che Adams who struck a third for Sheff United. Macc 0-3 Blades. As with previous friendlies I've attended, the majority of the second half was filled with subs and people going to the loo. This proved to be merely an interlude tonight between Adams's second and first goals. He shrugged off Halls and slotted in the penultimate goal of the game with ten minutes to go. Macc 0-4 Blades.

The fans put on that familiar brave face as the fourth goal finished the game.
Full Time followed shortly, Macc 0-4 Blades. I don't know why I was disappointed, as we played ok and Sheffield United are clearly the best team that we've played in pre-season. I shared a look with the fans which suggested we could've kept the game a bit closer and I think that were this an FA Cup tie we would never have let it be as one-sided. We looked to get a goal, when possible, and in the end that killed us as the League One side showed superior fitness and pedigree. The 500+ away fans will head back to Sheffield very happy and I would rejoin with the lads. Expecting to receive some mockery from the winning fan I asked him what I thought of the game, to which he replied, "Yeah, it was alright. Decent run out." I think he was perhaps underwhelmed by the game and I doubt it will feature in his top 100 Blades away days. He swiftly suggested we move on to the final pub before the train, see you on Saturday Moss Rose.

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