Just one point from two games, combined with another two injuries, is not the start Brian Horton would have wanted. With his side now dropping into the bottom two he faces a massive task to keep league football at the Moss Rose next season.
Arriving last Monday gave Horton little time to work with the squad before matches on Tuesday and Friday so it would be difficult for him to impose himself too much. Both games saw the Silkmen play well for thirty minutes before suffering an injury and losing out in a frantic match at Rotherham and fading away to gain a lucky draw at home to Barnet.
His line-up on Friday may suggest he sees three centre-backs as the way to go, but Futcher’s lack of pace was again dreadfully exposed in giving Barnet their best chance of the game. Hamshaw’s delivery to the target of Matt Smith shows a lot of promise and easily represented Macc’s most effective goal threat, but despite creating early chances on Friday night there was only a handful of misses to show for it. Potentially very costly misses.
Last time Horton came to the Moss Rose he had seven games left, with Macc 23rd, three points off safety. League survival was achieved by winning four and drawing one of these – a similar return will probably be required this time around. Of course in terms of points we are actually closer to safety but given the upcoming fixtures and our current form we in fact look to be in far worse condition.
The game against Barnet was the latest in a string of clashes with the teams around the Silkmen and should the worst happen it is certainly the failure to take three points in these encounters that they will rue. Up next is a trip to Gillingham who sit in ninth still chasing a play-off spot – yet they are currently the fourth lowest of Macclesfield’s remaining seven opponents. One win in the past twenty-four means that hope of beating anyone is already limited – factor in facing top sides battling for promotion and there is an increasing feeling of dread filling the hearts of Macclesfield fans.
We can hope that other teams at the bottom will struggle to pick up points but ultimately if we don’t address our own form quickly we will find our survival hopes slipping away. The injuries situation is unlikely to improve dramatically before the end of the season – even the returning Ross Draper will struggle to get near one-hundred-percent fitness before the start of May – Horton will largely have to make do with what he has got.
There is no doubt he has his work cut out trying to repeat the great escape of 2004, he may need a large slice of fortune to spark the fight against relegation into life. He was able to squeeze Zac Aley through the loan window before the deadline but he will struggle to turn things around single-handed. An unlikely win against Gillingham could change the picture, but for now the next few weeks are looking increasingly uncomfortable for even the most optimistic of Macclesfield fans.
By Macclesfield Town blogger Alastair Pattrick