Macclesfield Town vs Stockport County
In 1895 the American philosopher William James first used the word Multiverse – based on the idea that there could be multiple universes within which exists everything that possibly can exist. It’s not so difficult to imagine that within one of these universes Stockport County are the Premier League’s token unfashionable northern side and Edgeley Park has replaced The Brittania Stadium in that oft-repeated “but could player X perform on a wet Tuesday night at…” phrase.
They came close during the late 90’s when Gary Megson (no, really) almost guided them into the Championship (at the time sensibly named ‘Division One’) play-offs with a chance at cracking the big time before the 21st century rolled around and they gradually clambered down the football ladder like a particularly rubbish window cleaner. They now find themselves flirting with relegation once more and the unthinkable prospect of starting next season in the Conference North.
It’s harder to imagine a universe where Macclesfield Town are anything other than what they are now – a small non-league club not quite good enough to seriously harbor any thoughts of promotion but not anywhere near bad enough to be peering worriedly over their shoulder.
Sure there were those 15 years spent as a league club but aside from one freak promotion to the giddy heights of the third tier of English football most of that period was spent looking like a team punching above their weight and somehow getting away with it. They went into the latest game against near neighbours Stockport County with one eye still on the play-offs despite form that can be at best described as erratic.
Barely a year passes without one of the glossy football magazines producing something about ‘The World’s Worst Footballing Rivalries’ where their reporter gets the chance to go a bit Danny Dyer and get excited by the thought of angry foreign people waving flares around and stabbing each other. Macclesfield Town vs Stockport County would never feature in such an article and not just because nobody would be at all interested.
Despite the close proximity of the two towns it has never really been considered a proper ‘derby’ match because neither side can really muster up the required emotion to care about the other enough for it to matter. Fans of Macclesfield have traditionally reserved their hatred for Altrincham whilst for a long time Stockport fans probably considered Macclesfield as a tiny irrelevance and are most likely still struggling to come to terms with the fact they are (for now) at the same standard.
Going into the game both sides were desperate for the three points for different reasons. For the Silkmen it would be a step towards closing down the gap on Grimsby and making a go of sneaking into the last of the play-off spots. For Stockport it would be three points closer to safety and a second win for new boss Ian Bogie after the impressive victory over Newport. All the ingredients were there for a classic encounter. Sadly it didn’t quite work out that way.
Maybe the reverse fixture back in September is partially to blame? That night both teams served up a classic advertisement for football with a 3-4 scoreline during a breathlessly exciting game and so anything less of a repeat of that would surely be a disappointment.
Played under a crisp blue sky the first forty-five bumbled along without either side making much of a positive impression. Indeed the most interesting aspect of the half appeared to be that Macc boss Steve King was prowling his technical area in a pair of expensive looking shoes but with no socks. A fashion faux-pas for sure.
On the pitch it was Stockport, if anyone, who looked more likely to draw first blood whilst Macclesfield appeared toothless and lacking ideas in the final third. Mid-way through the half Amari Morgan-Smith, who had made his debut in the game at Edgeley Park, had the best chance for the Silkmen but fired straight at O’Donnell in the County goal. Elsewhere Jack Mackreth looked lively for the home side, as did full-backs Jackson and Braham-Barrett. For County the gumshoe-detective faced Jon Macken and partner Danny Whitehead went about their business in a quietly efficient manner.
In the second half Macclesfield seemed perkier and a flurry of decent chances eventually led to a deserved goal from Barnes-Homer. The otherwise disappointing Keiran Murtagh whipped in a free kick that was powerfully headed home by the Macc number nine for his 18th league strike of the campaign. With tails firmly up Macc could have extended their lead but failed to take advantage of their dominance and gradually County got back into the game culminating with an equaliser from Macken when the home defence fluffed their opportunities to clear the ball and allowed the former Manchester City man to fire home from inside the box. In the final twenty minutes the result could have swung either way with both sides spurning good chances to claim the local bragging rights and the final whistle was met with more a resigned murmur of discontent rather than any sort of venom or vitriol.
For both sides the solitary point is of little help. Macclesfield must now view their mid-week clash with Grimsby as a must-win fixture if their outside chance of promotion via the play-offs has any chance of becoming a reality. Stockport, on the other hand, will hope that Ebsfleet fail to pick up anything from their three games in hand with which they could considerably close the gap on the hatters and drag them right back into the relegation mire.
In a parallel universe somewhere County face Barcelona this week in an exciting Champions League semi-final (but can Messi perform on a wet Tuesday night in Stockport?). In reality they face Grimsby at home on Monday lunchtime when they could do the Silkmen a huge favour by taking points off the Mariners. Two days later Macc face Grimsby themselves at the Moss Rose. There are still a fair few twists and turns left in this season regardless of the quality of opposition. Stay tuned.
Follow Scott on twitter: @FragileGang