Tuesday, 22 September 2015

19/09/15 Review: Macclesfield Town vs Forest Green Rovers

Macclesfield Town 4-1 Forest Green Rovers (National League)
Moss Rose

Another trip to Moss Rose on this sunny September afternoon was a very welcome pit-stop on my journey to Sheffield. I had arranged to drive through to see an old school friend, which was  timed very well to fit alongside another bout of National League football. The drive through to Macclesfield from Stoke is always one that I enjoy, with a real feeling of being out in the countryside often adding to the occasion- providing it gets me there on time after sitting behind the odd tractor. Today's opponents were record-breaking Forest Green Rovers, who were not only top of the league but also on a run which has seen them win 9 out of their first 10 games, building a 6 point lead in the table already. On my drive to the game I was entertaining myself with some fun facts about the Rovers. For example, did you know that Forest Green Rovers points total is higher than that of Chelsea and Manchester City combined? 

Forest Green Rovers- the first team ever to win their opening 9 National League matches 
Following this, I then started to realise that it was my beloved Silkmen side who may well give FGR a tenth win of the season already. The main hope for Macc would be that they could repeat the feat of Woking who had managed to hand Rovers their first defeat in the midweek fixture. Macc had also lost on Tuesday night, 2-0 to 2nd placed Cheltenham, meaning that another loss would leave us ingrained into the bottom half. Following my last outing at Macc I was confident that if we gave a good display we may be able to cause a few problems, but even then I couldn't have predicted what would happen. Arriving just in time for the kick-off, I took my seat in the usual place and awaited a hopefully entertaining game. My prediction today was that the Silkmen would eventually fall to a defeat as the league leaders looked to bounce back from their defeat. 3-1 to FGR, or 3-2 if we played well, was what I was expecting.

A nice day for some footyball
The team sheet looked quite different to the last time I attended a game, with new signing David Fitzpatrick coming in to the left-back slot and big man Jack Sampson being given a role up top with leading goalscorer Kristian Dennis in a classic 4-4-2 formation. For FGR there were two former Silkmen in the starting 11, with Jon Parkin and Sam Wedgbury both lining up and looking to get one over their previous employers. And less than 2 minutes in to the game it was, of course, Parkin who bundled in a goal from a couple of yards out to give the Greens the lead. Macc 0-1 FGR. From this point I was feeling that we could be in for a long afternoon, having watched Macc lose 4-0 in the past against Stevenage Borough and Sheffield United. With Kristian Dennis upfront there is always a chance of a goal if the midfield can supply him- and when things are going your way the goals tend to keep on coming. With six goals already it seemed that his luck was in yet again as a back pass to Rovers goalie Jonny Maxted was sliced straight into the striker's path. With great delight and surprise, Dennis aptly rolled the ball into the empty net. Macc 1-1 FGR. This really seemed to wake up the ground, who had already turned to their phones to see if the other teams around the bottom of the table were losing yet. A fan behind me had spent the opening 15 minutes refreshing the score of Torquay against Bromley and updating the surrounding fans that Torquay were already 2-0 down by the time Macc had equalised. The majority of the midsection of the first-half was then spent with some tough tackles, bad fouls and the odd silly decision from the officials. One moment in-particular which stood out was a feud between FGR right-back Dale Bennett and Macc's Jack Sampson, who had a bit of a scuff on the touchline. This led to the downfall of Bennett in the match, who was constantly wound up by the fans following this. He took at least half a dozen throw-ins and he received a chorus of boos each time, before he threw the ball and lost possession for his side each time. By the third time of taking a throw-in he had obviously had enough, as he turned to the home crowd and shouted "Oh, shat ap!" in his frustrated Southern accent. The controversy continued as he pushed the limits by constantly edging forward for his throws, which ended up taking place about 8 yards higher up the pitch than should've been. The half drew to a close and as the injury time board went up I nipped off to loo to beat the minor rush which would shortly follow. When I returned to pitch-side I was just in time to see the turning point. A header from Pilkington was expertly cleared off the line by Rob Sinclair, which looked to have brought another corner. The whistle blew and the players crowded the ref. Seconds later the ref pointed  to the spot and then went to his pocket, which before I knew it produced the red card for Sinclair. In a mixture of confusion and joy, the crowd got to their feet and as soon as Dennis put the ball down the chants started. A calm run up led to his second of the game. Macc 2-1 FGR. The half-time whistle blew and at such a good time for Macc after one of the most entertaining games I'd seen in a long while.

I retreated to the bar for a pint and my usual look at the programme, where I picked up another "Pint of Football Moment". Today from the "10 things you didn't know about..." section I learnt that "The club were the first British football team to use a robot lawn mower, called a 'mow bot', using GPS technology. It runs off the solar panels located at the ground." Very fancy down at Forest Green, apparently! Still enthralled from the first half, I got back to my seat in very good time and sat awaiting another 45 in which we could seal a crucial win.

It's a great time to be a Macc fan
The second half allowed the Silkmen to really take their eleventh man advantage, which is what they did. The first quarter of an hour contained some great play for Macc, who seemed destined to score again. The chances finally came to a goal, as Paul Lewis powered home a header to give a very solid lead. Macc 3-1 FGR. This would surely mean game, set and match for the blues, who had outplayed the opposition since conceding an early opener. A great image for me was seeing the former Macc Town player, Sam Wedgbury, looking dejected as his old club did a number on his team. The theme continued and FGR offered very little in the way of a comeback, as I got to witness my first ever live moment of the crowd chanting "whay" at every completed pass. As the game came towards its close the subs were made and the usual announcements came through the tannoy. Today's Attendance, Man of the Match etc. But then a moment of comedy gold with an announcement in the last ten minutes, just shortly after the substitution of big Jon Parkin. [Paraphrase] "Ladies and Gentlemen, there will be half price pies available in the McIllroy Suite after today's match. Just make sure you get there before Jon Parkin." This hilarious bit of banter was well received by the 1,300 fans in the ground and met my smiles from some of the players- a true moment of non-league magic.

Unlucky Sammy
Shortly after this the game was well and truly rounded off by the impressive Chris Holroyd who drilled a cross into the area, which was converted by Danny Whitaker to put the icing on a very nice Macclesfield showing. Macc 4-1 FGR. The temptation to shout "Top of the league, they're avin a laugh!" was too much, but the lack of alcohol to fuel my confidence only allowed for a "Come on you Silkmen" shout instead. A young fan raised a few chuckles though as he went with the classic "You're getting sacked in the morning" chant, well played lad. Another chance went wide for Macc in the closing stages and Forest Green's Sam-Yorke sent a rocket well on it's way to the car park, but that was all they could muster and the game ended briefly afterwards. As I was en-route to Sheffield I didn't partake in my usual viewing of the Man of the Match award and a post-match pint in the clubhouse, but I did go away feeling much better than usual. Not only did Macc win today, but they dominated, they played good football and more than that, they beat the top of the league team, albeit with 10-men, by an emphatic scoreline. The best I've seen Macclesfield Town play since they beat Championship Hull City 2-0 at the KC Stadium in the 2011 League Cup. I'll be in attendance for Scarborough Athletic vs Glossop North End midweek as Pint of Football continues to provide light-hearted reviews and stories from around the grounds.

The pick of The Non-League Paper! 

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