Macclesfield Town v Aldershot Town match preview – Saturday 25 March 2017
Tuesday evening’s 3-1 victory over high-flying Dagenham & Redbridge not only kept Aldershot Town in the Play-Off hunt, but saw them open it up a little too. The Shots moved to within two points of The Daggers and it now looks most likely that it’s six teams chasing the final two Play-Off places, as opposed to five chasing one. Shamir Fenelon, Bernard Mensah and Matt McClure all scored as Gary Waddock’s team backed-up a classy first-half display with a solid and robust second-half performance to secure all three points.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
If the previous home victory (2-0 v Sutton United) had seen The Shots “winning ugly”, then, by comparison, Tuesday’s was “a thing of beauty” – most certainly that first-half display, in which Town’s passing and finishing was up with the highest standards they have set this season. They had the ball in the net as early as the sixth minute, when Scott Rendell converted from 8 yards, only for the goal to be (eventually) disallowed for offside. This proved only to spur The Shots on and on 17 minutes, Fenelon tucked away Mensah’s left wing cross. Mensah himself made it 2-0, timing his run superbly to meet ‘Man of the Match’ Nick Arnold’s cross and poke home on the half-volley. The Daggers got themselves back into the match soon after the break, Scott Doe cleverly looping a header in to wrong-foot Jake Cole. Town soon re-gained control of the match and wrapped up the win with the best finish of the night from substitute Matt McClure – a low, curling left-foot strike from 28 yards.
Waddock made just one change from his previous starting eleven – Callum Buckley making way for the return of top scorer Scott Rendell. His team and indeed squad selection for the Macclesfield game will be an interesting one, given that Jim Kellermann will be available for selection again following his four-match suspension, along with new signing, Reading loanee Dominic Hyam, a central defender who will provide much needed cover for Callum Reynolds and Will Evans. Cheye Alexander and Kundai Benyu both took knocks in the Dagenham game, but will be hopeful of recovering in time for the trip to Moss Rose. Liam Bellamy, still recovering from surgery to his knee ligament injury, will once again miss out.
Macclesfield Town were formed in 1874 and, for the fifteen years between 1997 and 2012, the Silkmen were held up as an example of how to survive in the Football League on small crowds and an uncompetitive playing budget. They even managed a solitary season in the third tier of English football in 1998-99. They initially struggled on their return to the National League and were nearly wound-up in the summer of 2013 with debts of £500,000, but the Cheshire side still finished 15th in the non-league top flight. The Silkmen over-achieved in 2014-15 with a superb sixth-place finish, just one point from the Play-Offs, but they slipped down to 10th place last season, fourteen points adrift of the top five.
Nine wins from their opening thirteen league games left the Silkmen 6th in the National League at the start of October, but a winless run of six games saw them drop to 11th. They currently sit in 9th place but due to their extended involvement in both FA Cup & FA Trophy, they still have 11 league games to play (The Shots have just 7) and realistic hopes of finishing in the top five.
Club legend John Askey (168 goals in 698 games over nineteen seasons) is in charge at Moss Rose along with his Assistant Steve Watson (former Newcastle and Everton defender with 472 Premier and Football League appearances). They masterminded the shock FA Cup victory at League One Walsall, and it took fellow League One outfit Oxford United a replay to prevent Macclesfield Town from reaching the Third Round. In the FA Trophy, the Silkmen have performed superbly, and last weekend they overcame Tranmere Rovers in the two-legged semi-final to reach Wembley, where they will play York City.
Defender: George Pilkington has made the most appearances this season, starting 34 of Macc’s 35 league games.
Midfielder: The evergreen Danny Whitaker continues to shine in midfield and has eight goals in all competitions so far this term.
Striker: Chris Holroyd is the clubs Top Scorer this season with 12 league goals and one in the FA Cup.
Aldershot Town and Macclesfield Town have faced each other on fifteen occasions, with The Shots winning three, losing six and drawing six of those encounters.
The Silkmen are one of just three teams to have beaten The Shots at The EBB Stadium this season. A goal in each half from Chris Holroyd saw them forge 2-0 ahead before Will Evans pulled one back for the home side. Both games last season were won by the away side, with the Silkmen winning 3-0 at the EBB Stadium in a game where Jake Gallagher received his marching orders. Back in January, goals from Alfie Pavey and Damon Lathrope gave the Shots a 2-0 victory at Moss Rose. In fact, no home side has won any of the last six encounters. The previous fifteen games have been short of goals with just 25 goals and three goalless draws.
Macclesfield’s home record sits 16th of the 24 National League sides, with 26 points gained from their 17 home matches to date. They have won 8, drawn just 2 and lost 7 league matches at Moss Rose this season. Defensively, they boast the division’s fifth-best defence. They’ve conceded 37 goals in 35 games – only bettered by Tranmere (32), Boreham Wood (33), Lincoln (34) and The Shots (34).
Saturday’s match referee is Scott Oldham, who has taken charge of just 12 National League games this season, issuing 40 yellow and, as yet, no red cards. He has previously refereed Aldershot Town on two occasions this season: the 2-0 defeat at Chester in December and the 2-0 victory at Wrexham last month.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website from 2.50pm for full match commentary.
You can also contact us throughout the evening via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @bbcsurreysport and @RobShot66