For the third consecutive home game the Silkmen came from behind to earn a point, this time combining the dramatics of the previous encounters to both come from two down and score in the dying moments of the game.
Despite the pressing need for a win, most Macc fans would have taken a point against Crawley before the game. When the Red Devils went two goals up just after half time they would have positively bitten your hand off (especially as the pies have usually run out well before then). The ability to fight to the end is a quality sure to aid the Silkmen in their struggle against relegation, but in fact on Saturday it had looked like heads were starting to drop.
With the fight seemingly deserting the players, the first goal came from nowhere, sparking the Silkmen back into life once more and driving them onto an excellent result. However the brief signs of defeatism leave some lingering concern. Whatever the misfortunes our squad has faced this season, feeling sorry for ourselves will do no good when battling for survival.
On the tactics front Simmo did seem to have heeded calls for a change. Starting with a front two, or three with Marshall when in possession, was a more attacking outlook than seen in previous weeks. It was initially fairly effective, perhaps catching the opposition by surprise, but as the game wore on it was Crawley who took control. Obviously their vast resources meant they would always be favourites, but the game served to highlight the fact that a lack of central midfield options is at the heart of our problems.
Without Draper and Chalmers we cannot seem to keep control or possession in this area – both are edging towards a return but time is running out. We may have to pray that a recent injection will bring a swift solution to Mattis’s ankle trouble and allow the captain of last year’s champions play a role in the run-in.
At the sharp end of the pitch on Saturday was Vinny Mukendi – handed a start following his second half performance last week. He continues to be something of an enigma, often looking too lightweight and unable to take advantage of his height. Having fluffed more than one chance he did atone by being on hand to make the crucial breakthrough. Obviously he is doing something right in training,Gary rates him and he’s been linked (admittedly by the ever reliable lower league rumours of Sky Sports) to top flight teams.
It is easy to forget he has just left his teens, perhaps he just needs some confidence before he can translate his talents into competitive action. The question is whether he will find any in a dogfight at the bottom of League Two. Fans are already on edge and frustrated, leaving little tolerance for weak performances. In an ideal world Mukendi would have seen out the season on loan with Southport, but these plans have become just another victim of the injury crisis.
And so to the forthcoming weekend. The game against Dagenham on Saturday is the latest in a series of crunch games, and as the league gets tighter at the bottom it becomes increasingly important to grab three points. We are still fifteen points short of what is usually considered the benchmark for safety in the league. There are ten games to go and if we extrapolate the form which has seen one win in our last twenty-one there is only one way this season is going to end. We have had many “must-win” games against sides at the bottom in the last few weeks – failure to make this one count will raise significant doubts over our survival bid.
By Macclesfield Town blogger Alastair Pattrick