1. First of all I would like to pay tribute to a marvellous young man and his family who made me feel truly humbled when I met them all prior to Saturday’s game. Young Ben Crowther and his brothers Harry and James were mascots for the day, and this incredibly brave young man and his marvellous family were enjoying hospitality as our very special guests with help from Ben’s CLIC Sargent nurse which works tirelessly to support children and young people and their families affected by cancer, and the Free Kicks Foundation that raise money to give deserving children and adults a special day out at football grounds throughout the country. Young Ben is currently undergoing treatment for Rhabdoid Sarcoma and the sense of fun and love of life from this incredible young man nicknamed ‘Bennis the Menace’ by his amazing family was a joy to behold. The best part of Ben’s day was not meeting all the players in the changing rooms or walking out on the pitch, but having his picture taken with the one and only Roary the Lion, and who can blame him? When you witness incredible people such as the Crowther family braving heartbreaking adversity in the face with such courage, dignity and strength, it makes you realise that the high’s and low’s of following your football team are just incidental.
2. As I looked around the Moss Rose from my vantage point of the centre circle just before kick-off, I found myself curiously drawn to the notable sparsity of numbers in London Road as opposed to the much healthier contingents within Star Lane End, the Big Brand Ideas stand and ‘Sir’ John Askey terrace where the Morecambe fans were housed. It just looks so wrong and the decision has to be reversed as soon as possible.
3. Now to the game and the Silkmen started as if this was a pre-season friendly in July rather than the first of two must win home games as this truly awful but absorbing first season back in the English Football League hurtles at full throttle to it’s conclusion less than one month away. Morecambe on the other hand who were all but safe at the start of play anyway, displayed an ‘up and at ’em’ approach were much the better side for much of the first half and should have scored after a couple of minutes when Mandeville missed a gilt-edged chance when the game was barely two minutes old. When they did eventually take a thoroughly deserved lead in the 26th minute when Zak Mills (who is hardly a giant) managed to score with ease with the simplest of headers from surprise surprise a corner yes a corner!!
4. Seven minutes later, the Silkmen restored parity as a consequence of a move that was in complete contrast to what had been seen from them beforehand. Ben Stephens neatly controlled a long ball before neatly placing it at the feet of Scott Wilson who brilliantly laid it into the path of fans favourite Elliott Durrell who then exquisitely guided the ball into the far left hand corner of the net leaving Shrimps custodian Roche with no chance whatsoever. The cheers of the hugely relieved Silkmen faithful then nearly turned into scenes of ecstatic joy when young Reece Cole unleashed a thunderous shot that rattled the upright before it was safely shepherded away by the Shrimps defence.
5. The arrival of the half-time whistle saw many of my Silkmen compatriots around me wondering how the heck that we were on terms when we had been so comprehensively outplayed for the vast majority of the first half. That had been such a poor first half showing (with the exception of Elliott’s excellent equaliser and Reece’s fine free kick effort) and so we sincerely hoped that the trend of one shocking half and one half decent one would continue.
6. To be honest, the second half was a vast improvement from what had been a desperately disappointing first half performance. The Silkmen started the second half very much on the front foot with both the impressive Durrell and Scotty Wilson testing Shrimps stopper Roche before Reece Cole forced a competent save from Roche as he tipped over a decent effort from the young Brentford loanee and fans favourite Nathan Cameron headed over the resultant corner just over the bar to a chorus of oohs and arghs from the Silkmen faithful.
7. The Shrimps who had been nowhere as impressive in the second half as they were in the first, then had Silkmen hearts in mouths as the impressive Old glanced a header wide before Elliott Durrell who was yours truly’s Man of the Match (as he was with the Man of the Match sponsors MID Communications) whipped in a delicious looking cross that evaded the unmarked Fiacre Kelleher by a matter of inches and he was free at the back post as well!
8. Although the Silkmen succumbed to some late Morecambe pressure, a point was all that both deserved in an altogether rather dull and uninspiring contest. The Shrimps fans (now clearly sensing that they had all but secured League Two football next season) celebrated as if they had won the league itself. A number of us watched on rather jealously as we could not help but be impressed with the way in which the Shrimps fans and the whole of the playing staff and management team celebrated wildly and who could blame them?
9. The sombre mood in the McIlroy Suite after the game (which was not helped by news of an injury time equaliser for the Glovers of Yeovil) was in stark contrast with that witnessed between the Shrimps fans, players ad management. A point (which was most definitely all that we deserved on the day) was really nowhere near enough, and Tuesday’s home game against play-off hopefuls Exeter City is one that WE MUST WIN to give us reasonable chance of staying up particularly when bearing in mind that our next games are against Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town where we rarely gather much in the way of points.
10. On Tuesday all out attack is absolutely essential with us playing a far more adventurous formation with two up front in Harry and Willo and Elliott and Liandro Martis on the wings. Danny Whitaker should be a ‘shoe in‘ replacement for Michael Rose in central midfield, who after a purple patch for much of December and January now looks very jaded indeed. The crowd is likely to be fairly sparse with Champions League Football action in full flow that night but the Silkmen fans present need to spend 90+ minutes constantly cajoling and encouraging the team to what will hopefully be a fantastic three points. There really is no other way now and I AM SILKMEN TILL I DIE!
Featured Image courtesy of Chelsie Wilson.