The home debut of the new management team had been eagerly awaited by the Silkmen faithful, though no doubt not as many of the faithful came through the turnstiles as had been hoped for by the club. In the event those who came and braved the elements saw the Silkmen claim a priceless three points as the scrap to climb out of the relegation mire continues.
The day itself saw dark, dismal skies, a swirling breeze and almost incessant rain, which effectively ruled out a flowing, end to end encounter as players struggled to get to grips with the elements. It was therefore a tentative start on both sides. Morris, the visiting keeper had problems in particular in keeping the ball on the park due to the wind with the local houses on Moss Lane being in more danger from his clearances in the first half than the Silkman rear guard. It was however Crawley who offered the first threat, with Gambin producing a very dangerous cross which was well gathered by O’Hara. Having the advantage of the wind in the first half meant as many problems for the home side as the ball ran away and gathered speed in the gusts as normal passes went alarmingly astray. Of the combatants, only Payne for Crawley and Rose for Macc seemed to have things under control and it was those two who set the tempo. On 20 minutes, Durrell was unceremoniously chopped down by Maguire who was yellow carded. From the resultant free kick, Rose, helped by the wind, got the ball through a crowd of players only to see Morris pull off a save at full stretch. The keeper was again called into action to deny Smith and a downward header from Kelleher bounced agonisingly onto the roof of the net. At the other end Gambin could have earned himself a yellow card with a blatant dive, following a dangerous run into the box.
On the half hour the deadlock was broken. The ball broke to Durrell and from about 25 yards out he simply smashed the ball home, past the despairing Morris. Further pressure followed, with the much maligned Smith linking up well with Durrell and Pearson to create problems for the visitors. Back came Crawley and Peleon’s mazy run saw his shot end up in the side netting. Just before the break Gambin should have done better when he was all alone at the far post, but put his header wide.
Half-Time: Macclesfield Town 1 Crawley Town 0
The second half was delayed when just as the players were about to emerge the floodlights went out. A 15 minute delay occurred as the crowd debated whether a valuable three points would be denied us due to technical rather than playing difficulties, but thankfully all was soon well. The second half was in many ways almost a carbon copy of the first except it was Crawley, backed by the elements who pressed hard, with the Silkmen looking to play very much on the break. In general, though despite their possession Crawley carved out very few opportunities and when they did some excellent defending with Cameron and Kelleher very much to the fore, thwarted their intentions. Behind the back four O’Hara was assured and despite the wind, his handling was exemplary.
Macc continued to look threatening on the break with Durrell in particular often leading the charge. On 55 minutes, Lloyd was replaced by Ponticelli, who gave the side an added dimension, being prepared to run at Crawley and when possession was lost or misplaced, worked his socks off to close down and get the ball back. Just on the hour, O’Hara pulled off an outstanding save as Gambin again threatened, cutting in from the left before producing a curly left footed strike, which saw O’Hara turn the ball over with a brilliant one handed stop.
Thereafter, despite having the lion’s share of possession and the occasional huff and puff of Peleon, Crawley failed to create any clear cut chances and when they did threaten, bodies were flung in the way. Too often for them possession drifted away on the wind and O’Hara found himself taking yet another goal kick. On 85 minutes, the Silkmen made the game safe. The ever willing Ponticelli fed Stephens who turned it inside to Rose whose pinpoint cross was headed in by Smith, reward for a battling personal performance.
I suppose at this point I could talk about there being “light at the end of the tunnel” but credit must go to our electrical wizard who ultimately gave the players the opportunity to finish the job. Whatever, hopefully this performance is another small step towards safety, in what was, despite the elements an assured performance from the team. My man of the match was the much maligned Harry Smith who had his best game in a blue shirt and whose goal will hopefully give the young man a great deal of personal confidence.
crazyjoe’s Scores on the Doors
O’Hara 8 – one great save and his handling on a very difficult day was excellent.
Pearson 7 – solid and steady, some important interceptions.
Kelleher 8 – solid alongside Cameron, he has improved out of all recognition since Nathan’s arrival.
Cameron 8.5 – excellent all round performance. We need to get Nathan on a deal at least until the end of the season.
Fitz 6 – not one of his better efforts against the dangerous Gambin, but was replaced in the second half so had probably been struggling with an injury.
Durrell 8 – great goal and was a constant source of danger to Crawley.
Whitaker 5 – not one of Danny’s best displays.l, he seemed off the pace and out of sorts.
Rose 8 – on a day which was difficult for passing did as well as anyone with the ball.
Lloyd 5 – odd flashes of what we know Ryan is capable of but in general struggled to get into the game.
Stephens 6 – another who found it difficult to deal with the elements.
Smith 9 – battled hard, did better with the ball at his feet, linking well with Pearson and Durrell in particular. Tested Morris a couple of times in the first half and despatched his header to settle the game with aplomb.
Ponticelli 7.5 – looked lively and played a major part in the deciding goal. Worth a start for me next week.
Welch-Hayes – did ok in the limited time he was on.