To celebrate Danny Whitaker’s contract extension which was announced earlier today, we take you back to September 2002 for the latest instalment of classic Silkmen matches.
2002/03 season is perhaps best remembered for the fact that it would be Sir John’s last as a Macclesfield Town player, however one match from that season is etched into the memories of everyone who was lucky enough to witness it.
David Moss’ Silkmen side had made a fairly inauspicious start to the season, and went in to the League Cup tie with Barnsley after having won just two of the opening seven matches.
During the previous summer, Moss had brought in Bermuda striker Kyle Lightbourne who had elicited some hope amongst the Silkmen faithful that the season would be a successful one. However with only one home win notched up, many fans turned up to the Moss Rose out of hope rather than expectation as Macc faced The Tykes for the first time in a competitive fixture.
The hosts were not overwhelmed by their League One visitors however and had several early chances to open the scoring. Matthew Tipton and Chris Priest both went close within the opening exchanges, and only a fine save from Marriott kept the score level on 27 minutes when Chris Byrne breached the Barnsley defence.
Three minutes later however, The Silkmen did break the deadlock through an absolutely stunning strike from Lightbourne. Former Blackburn Rovers defender (and Sammy McIlroy’s first signing on promotion to the League), Steve Hitchen launched a long ball upfield which was pristinely laid off by Matthew Tipton and smashed over the ‘keeper into the net from twenty five yards by Lightbourne.
The League One side fought back as you would expect, and despite controlling the majority of possession, struggled to really test Steve Wilson in the Macc goal.
It was actually the home side who looked more likely double their lead and on 38 mins Chris Byrne unlocked the Barnsley defence, sending Matthew Tipton clean through on goal. As ‘keeper Marriott advanced to meet him, Tipton attempted to chip the ball over him into an empty goal – sadly whilst the chip succeeded, the ball didn’t dip enough to send it in to the net.
Barnsley started the second half full of intent, and Steve Wilson had to pull off a number of fabulous stops to preserve Macc’s narrow one goal lead.
Yet, Macc were handed a golden opportunity double their lead once more when Chris Byrne’s acrobatic through ball was latched on to by Lightbourne – he cut inside and found himself one on one with the ‘keeper, yet sent his shot disappointingly over the crossbar.
With the clock ticking down, Macc began to sit back more and as such the visitors pressed for the equaliser which would force extra time.
This duly came with only a few minutes left to play when Isaiah Rankin picked up the ball on the edge of the area and sent his shot over Wilson, to the joy of the Tykes fans behind the goal.
That is how the ninety minutes ended, and as everyone braced themselves for extra time, nobody could have predicted what they were about to witness.
Seconds in to the second period of additional time, Danny Adams pumped a long ball over the Barnsley defence which Matthew Tipton ran on to. He laid the ball off to Whitaker, who calmly slotted the ball past the advancing Marriott to put Macc in the ascendency.
Less than sixty seconds later, Macc had doubled their lead. This time Steve Hitchen’s long ball upfield was brilliantly taken by Chris Priest, who unselfishly laid the ball off for Danny Whitaker who had an easy finish in front of the visiting supporters.
The Silkmen fans chanted “Easy! Easy!”, yet there was time for one more twist, as with seconds left on the clock Danny Whitaker made it four – and in the process completed a remarkable fourteen minute hat-trick.
John Askey cut through the League One side’s defence and set Steve Hitchen free – he stormed in to the visitors box before checking back and expertly laid off Whitaker who made no mistake from twenty yards out.
The Star Lane End went wild, and as the full time whistle blew, everyone tried to draw breath and attempted to make some sense of what they had just witnessed.
Games like this live in your memory forever, and as such there was only one match in my mind to focus on to celebrate Danny Whitaker extending his contract for another twelve months today.
For those of you who would like to reminisce further then here are highlights of the match from Silkmen Official’s YouTube channel –
Make sure you listen out for the commentary which is absolutely epic!
Macclesfield Town Starting XI: Wilson, Ridler, Tinson, Welch, Hitchen, Whitaker, Priest, Byrne, Adams, Tipton, Lightbourne. Subs: Deasy, Hardy, Askey, Munroe, Robinson.
Barnsley Starting XI: Marriott, Mulligan, Curle, O’Callaghan, Holt, Betsy, Jones, Lumsdon, Ward, Rankin, Dyer. Subs: Ghent, Austin, Gibbs, Sheron, Fallon.
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