TOWN travel to the Moss Rose for their first time in their history on Saturday, hoping to get their first win on their travels so far this season. There have been encouraging performances aplenty from the Mariners on the road this season, but simply not enough points.
Macclesfield have been rejuvenated under the leadership of ex-Hull City and Manchester City manager Brian Horton (left), who took up the hotseat with the Silkmen at the end of last season. He saved them from relegation and has made an encouraging start to this season, currently in 9th place in league two. He took over from David Moss who had a miserable time in charge at Town in a two year spell that saw Macc struggle to get out of the bottom half of division three. But with plenty of experience in this years side, there is hope for a better season. They got off to terrific start - winning their first three games, but have since found points hard to come by suffering, like Town, two straight league defeats.
In goal for Macclesfield will be one of two ex-Hull City goalkeepers. Steve Wilson played 180 games on the other side of the Humber, while Alan Fettis had a loan spell with Town last season. Fettis is doubtful for Saturdayâ€™s game and missed last weeks game at Chester. In defence they have lots of lower league experience in the shape of full backs Graham Potter and Mark Bailey. Bailey was snapped up from rivals Lincoln City in the summer and looks an astute signing on the right flank. In the centre of defence this season has been a blend of experience and youth with Tony Barras, now with his ninth league club and youngster Michael Briscoe who arrived from Coventry City in the summer. In midfield are two ex Town players - Tommy Widdrington and Paul Harsley. In attack they have the division's top scorer in the shape of ex-York and Hartlepool front man Jon Parkin who has notched 5 goals in 7 games already this term. He has been partnered by Matthew Tipton who netted 16 goals last season. Waiting in the wings is veteran Mike Sheron (left) who has commanded fees of millions of pounds over the years, and ex Crewe hitman John Miles.
Danny Whitaker (left) is a key player for Macclesfield. He is a Macclesfield veteran in what is a very new side. Whitaker is a product of the clubs youth system and made his debut in 2001, scoring in that game. Whitaker always provides goals from midfield - last season he got 6, the season before he hit the back of the net 14 times. Comfortable anywhere across the midfield, Whitaker can provide real problems for defences in this division - one to keep an eye on for messrs Fleming and Pinault.
Town were hit with the news this week that Simon Ramsden could be out for four months with a neck injury. This is a hammer blow for Town with Tony Crane, Rob Jones and Glen Downey all sidelined. Downey has trained this week but is nowhere near match fit, while Jones is a few weeks from full fitness. Manager Russell Slade is madly trying to get a centre half in on loan - with his target a Premiership defender and a Championship stopper.
If no-one is brought in before Saturday then Greg Young could play at the back, but he is not 100% match fit. Ramsden has been adopting a sweeper type position at the back - one that could be filled by Jason CrowE, meaning a recall for Ronnie Bull.
Meanwhile, attempts are ongoing to secure a front man - with a decision expected on Shrewsburyâ€™s Colin Cramb in the next few days.
Graham Hockless is still knocking on the door for a return to the squad after impressing in the reserves - while on loan forwards Paul Robinson and Chris Williams will start on the bench again.
Manager Brian Horton has hinted this week that he is going to make a change to his side from last weekend - and not because of injury. This could see a first start for Mike Sheron who could play behind the front two of Tipton and Parkin. Alternatively, there could be a switch from their normal 3-5-2 system to 4-4-2 to accommodate Iraqi winger Jassim Swadi Fayadh who was signed a few weeks ago.
At the same time, it is being rumoured that Macc may have a new midfielder in for Saturday. Rumours are pointing towards transfer listed Rochdale midfielder Paddy McCourt or Wigan youngster Greg Traynor.
Tony Barras should recover from his bruised knee he picked up last weekend, while Matt Carragher and Steve Payne remained sidelined.
Alan Fettis could return to the side after he got a cut a few weeks ago at Southend and needed stitches - keeping him out of the defeat at Chester last week. If he doesnâ€™t make it, Steve Wilson will deputise
This is the first meeting between the two sides - so there is no head to head record and now last meeting!
Tommy Widdrington (left) was for a few years, Town's record signing - and still remains one of Townâ€™s most expensive. Signed for £300,000 by Brian Laws to replace the outgoing Paul Groves to WBA, he spent 3 years at Town and was played some games during the epic 1997/98 season. Left in 1999 to join Brian Horton at Port Vale - he has since had a spell at Hartlepool - but is now reunited with Horton at the Moss Rose
Alan Fettis made 11 appearances on loan at Town last season while Aidan Davison sat out the end of the season through injury. He joined Macc in the summer on a free. In a reversal of this, current Town keeper Anthony Williams had two loan spells with Macclesfield - one in the 1998/99 season and one in the following season. Later that year he secured a move away from Blackburn to join Hartlepool.
Paul Harsley never made a first team start for the Mariners when he was at BP in the mid 1990s. Since he has played regularly in the lower leagues, joining Brian Laws at Scunthorpe, then going onto Halifax and Northampton before joining the Silkmen in February.
Fishy prediction: A goal, never mind a win away from home would be great. Town keep dominating away from home, then losing to a silly goal - therefore colossus Macclesfield pressure and one shot and one goal from Town to get a 1-0 win would be sufficient. However, a twinge tells me itâ€™s going to be 1-1.
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