2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 10 – Saturday 07 September 2019: Macclesfield Town v Crawley Town
As detailed in an earlier article (Match Day 3), 2019/20 had seen Bury expelled from the Football League and Bolton Wanderers clinging onto their league status by their fingernails. Another club on the brink of financial ruin along with them were Macclesfield Town, and they became my destination of choice on this opening Saturday of September.
Macclesfield Town had never come across my football radar until they made it into the Football League in the late 90s, but they do have a long and illustrious amateur record. They were formed in 1874 as Macclesfield and have played at Moss Rose since 1891, so a long standing ground still being used in the Football League (15th in the list). The beginnings of Macclesfield Town Football Club can be traced, at least in part, to the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers who were formed in 1873 and played regularly in Macclesfield from October 1874. It was agreed at a public meeting on 21 October 1876 that the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers and the Olympic Cricket club teams be merged to form Macclesfield F.C. and initially matches alternated between association and rugby rules. At the beginning of the 1878/79 season Macclesfield United Football Club merged with Macclesfield Football Club. The club played in the FA Cup competition for the first time on 18 November 1882, losing 4-3 to Lockwood Brothers and first entered the Cheshire Senior Cup in the 1879/80 season, winning this competition for the first time on 22 March 1890 when they beat Nantwich 4–1 and went on to be winners on three more occasions before the turn of the century. Macclesfield became members of The Combination League at the start of the 1890/91 season and moved from Victoria Road to the Moss Rose on 12 September 1891 which remains the home of the Silkmen today. In terms of honours, they are two times FA Trophy winners (1970 the season my football journey begins and 1996), three times National League champions (once refused promotion due to the state of their ground) and three times Northern Premier League winners. With such a history, it would be a shame should they go out of existence.
The visitors to Moss Rose, Crawley Town are another relatively new team to the Football League becoming members following promotion under Steve Evans in 2010/11.
The game kicked-off on a bright afternoon, with the Silkmen quickest out of the blocks as Theo Archibald fired a shot over the bar in the opening minute. It was though an even opening to the game with Bez Lubala looking dangerous for the visitors Crawley. Macclesfield though took the lead on twenty-one minutes when Theo Vassell stabbed the ball home following a corner that Crawley failed to clear. Chances were few and far between in the rest of the half, but the visitors had two good opportunities in the final five minutes before the break. First a defensive lapse by the Silkmen let in Lubala with Vassell’s tackle saving the situation and then Nathan Ferguson had a golden chance to level when inside the box but blazed over the bar.
Crawley dominated the start of the second half with Macclesfield playing on the break and but for two excellent saves from the visitors ‘keeper Morris from Archibald and Stephens would have had a second goal. However, the pressure from Crawley finally told, when with seventeen minutes remaining, the lively Lubala scored with an excellent free-kick. He nearly manufactured a second just five minutes later as his shot was saved and fell to Ollie Palmer, who put the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy. Both sides went in search of a winner in the closing minutes of the game, but at the whistle it finished 1-1, which was probably about the right result.
As I write, the EFL have ended the League Two season and implemented Points Per Game to decide on the final league placings. The Silkmen because of an eleven point deduction due to failure to pay players and cancellation of fixtures earlier in the season, find themselves next to bottom, with Stevenage in the relegation spot. However, the EFL has brough further charges against the club in relation to wages issues and if Macclesfield are docked three or more points they would then drop into the National League. Worrying times for all associated with the Moss Rose club.
Saturday 07 September 2019
Sky Bet League Two
Macclesfield Town 1 (Vassell 21’) Crawley Town 1 (Lubala 73’)
Venue: Moss Rose
Macclesfield Town: Evans, O’Keeffe (Horsfall 78′), Welch-Hayes, Kelleher, Vassell, Archibald, Kirby, Harris, Osadebe, Stephens (Gnahoua 67′), Ironside (Gomis 90′)
Unused substitutes: Charles-Cook, Clarke, Ntambwe
Crawley Town: Morris, Sesay (Young 76’), Tunnicliffe, Dallison-Lisbon, Doherty, Bulman, Camaro, Grego-Cox, Ferguson (Enigbokan-Bloomfield 45’), Lubala, Palmer
Unused Substitutes: Francomb, Nathaniel-George, Allarakhia, Gallach, Luyambula.