Craig Priest looks ahead to a showdown between the MTFC’s!
I hate this time of year, looking out the window all I see is rain, damp leaves failing from the trees with a chilling breeze breaking through the flat despite my heating cranked up full. The only warmth or satisfaction I get is football, yet in true Stags fashion the mood around the stands etc matches the weather – dull and miserable, well one man’s looking to change that, step forward Adam Murray.
What has been clear to me for the past couple of months is that closeness of fans and players has disappeared, this is something which the philosophical Murray created last term with his blogs and in turn us supporters responded with another level of support which spurred the boys on – let’s hope it has the same affect this time around, especially as tomorrow night we face a tough trip to Macclesfield, a place with respect nobody ever craves going to even on the nicest of days, some will look at the weather tonight, look our away form and think ______ it!!
I guess you can say we are building a little bit of steam with one defeat in our last five but you can’t hide the fact our dreadful away form is a big blotch on our seasonal canvas at the moment as we sit 19th in the away table. As mentioned in the match report following Saturday’s 2-2 draw at AFC Telford, there was anxiety and a itchiness about our play as we failed to make the most of the extra man – Paul Cox mentioned after the game that a section of fans were chanting for his head and having a dig at a selection of players, I don’t know if that’s true or not but if it is – there’s your reason why the players were anxious, not wanting to make a mistake at fear the ‘haters’ piped up again, as Murray eluded too in his blog, when people make mistakes they need a supportive word not a foray of a abuse which sometimes we may be too quick to dish out – the weight of expectation maybe a little too heavy at the minute, how about we lift it and concentrate on the here and now – winning games.
Tomorrow it’s a clash of the MTFC’s as Macclesfield face Mansfield, the Silkmen have followed in the path of every relegated club in the first season back in the conference, starting brightly under the guidance of former Lewes boss Steve King, currently sitting in 4th place. Macclesfield were conference champions in the 1996-97 season suffered relegation from league two last term finishing bottom after collecting five home wins all season, already this season they are one behind that total with wins over Wrexham, Dartford, Braintree and Barrow – Forest Green Rovers ended what was a 100% record on Saturday with a dramatic late goal from Steve Brogan.
The Silkmen swept the changes during the close season with a mammoth 22 departures and 21 arrivals including former Stags trialist Pablo Mills, highly rated winger Peter Winn, Luton Duo John Paul Kissock and Charlie Henry and their former team mate, hit man Matthew Barnes-Homer, who is currently the silkmens top scorer with seven goals so far. The new Macclesfield are a solid side in their infancy, tomorrow we’ll probably face one of the toughest tests so far.
LAST TIME WE MET
It’s been a while since the MTFC’s faced each other, the two fixtures during the 2007-08 season being the faintest of lights in our relegation season of doom! At Field Mill as was, the Stags romped to a 5-0 victory, Simon Brown netted the quickest hat trick from the start of a match in the clubs history, netting a treble within the open 22 minutes before strikes from Nathan Arnold and Mickey Boulding completed the route before the hour mark. The Macclesfield side that day included two of our current squad, Adam Murray and Jamie Tolley.
The Reverse fixture was a frustrating yet hopeful one at the Moss Rose, one which turned out to be our second to last away game in the football league. Prior to the match Stags had four games to go and we’re attempting ‘The Great Escape’ as Paul Holland’s crumbling boys sat 23rd in the table just three points below rivals Notts County whilst Macclesfield were in 19th seven points ahead. Notts County played Accrington in another relegation show down, if the Stags could win and County loose, maybe survival hopes would grow ahead of the home clash with Shrewsbury – in the end it was a goalless draw, the first clean sheet in three games whilst Matt Hamshaw’s right boot couldn’t grab a win in the dying embers of the match. A point was ok at first but as the full time scores were slipping through, County had beaten Accrington and suddenly time was against us and hope draining – my last memory of Macclesfield is the coach pulling away and my heart draining of all hope, relegation loomed.
The sides have met numerous times over the years, in league matches there have been 18 meetings, of which the Stags have won eight to Macclesfield’s five, the remaining five being draws. Since the first meeting between the sides in 1997, a 1-0 win for Macclesfield, the Stags have netted 30 goals, conceding 23. The Moss Rose is one of the first away grounds I visited, seeing mixed fortunes – of the nine games at the other MTFC’s home, the sides have three wins a piece with three draws.
Macclesfield will be without John Paul-Kissock who was sent off against Forest Green at the weekend, otherwise there relatively injury free. For Stags, Matt Green serves the final game of his ban which still leaves Stags with two fit strikers (Rhead and Speight), Nick Wright, Ross Dyer and Ben Hutchinson are all injured, joined by Jamie Hand and Gary Roberts on the injury table.
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