What a difference a few minutes can make. At around 9.45pm on Tuesday night it looked like Macclesfield would be deep in the mire. Heading for a defeat that would have left them within striking distance of teams in the drop zone – it was beginning to feel like the downward spiral could become terminal.
Enter George Donnelly. Rising to head home an equaliser with the last touch of the game and send the Moss Rose into raptures, his goal could have massive ramifications for the remainder of the season. It snatched two points from the Pilgrims and dealt the Silkmen’s relegation rivals a bitter blow whilst simultaneously giving themselves an enormous boost – Wedgebury’s reaction as he raced towards the crowd to celebrate reflected how much it meant.
At the same time in Kent, Hereford were missing a penalty and then conceding a late winner in their epic 5 – 4 defeat toGillingham. Thus another side fighting for survival sees their hopes crushed – bad news for them but fantastic news for us.
When the fourth officials were holding up their boards Simmo would probably have dreaded picking up a newspaper let alone trying to pick up his players after what would have been the ninth defeat in ten. Yet by the time final whistles were blown the story had completely changed, the squad will be relishing the trip to Bristol whilst two of Simmo’s counterparts would be left scratching their heads on long journeys home. Surely this will be a turning point in the season.
Despite the thrilling end to the game three points would still have been preferable, but it at least allowed the Silkmen to build on the impressive away point gained at Oxford. These last two results have been achieved on the back of a tactical switch to a 5-3-2 formation. Mendy has dropped back to play as a centre back in the continued absence of Nat Brown, playing in a back three alongside Futcher and new signing Connolly, while Daniel and Marshall play as the wing backs.
Nobody is going to claim that this formation will produce the most attractive football the world has ever seen and it was second best to the Pilgrim’s efforts during the earlier periods of the game. The midfield potentially suffers (although injuries have left it weak enough already) and although the front pairing work very hard to chase down anything sent their way, neither is a big target man for long aerial balls.
Ultimately however ugly it may appear, you can’t argue that it has improved results. Yes we need to start pulling out some wins, especially against those around us, but having lost the previous eight games the first objective is to stop the rot and this setup makes Macc harder to beat. Long-term it will probably not be the solution but it may steer us through the current rough patch.
It appears that the Silkmen are starting to at least edge round the proverbial corner and spirits will certainly be high. One note of caution – their recovery needs to continue gathering pace quickly, given their remaining fixtures. Even with a fully fit squad away form was far from impressive (trips to Rotherham, Gillingham and Southend currently hold little appeal) plus promotion-chasers Crawley and Shrewsbury still have to visit the Moss Rose. Bristol on Saturday offers potential but another crunch home tie againstHerefordin midweek holds most importance.
Three or four points by the time I write next will give a much healthier outlook for Macclesfield’s league prospects and, as exciting as the drama was, I honestly do not mind if they don’t leave it quite so late this time…
By Macclesfield Town blogger Alastair Pattrick