Andrew’s Match Preview
Colne v Macclesfield
Saturday 3rd December - 13:00
Colne welcome Cheshire club and league leaders Macclesfield to Holt House for an early kick-off NPL West league game
Macclesfield FC, nicknamed the Silkmen, are the phoenix club of Macclesfield Town, which were wound up in 2020. Macclesfield FC’s first season - 21/22 - was at step 5 in the North West Counties Premier division, which they won, amassing 94 points and gaining promotion to the NPL West.
This season, the Silkmen have won 13 and lost 4, giving them 39 points from 17 games, which sees them sit at the top of the division. Away from home they have won at Leek Town 3-1, City of Liverpool 1-0, Ramsbottom 5-0, Glossop North End 2-1, Trafford 1-0 and Prescot Cables 2-1. They have lost 0-1 at Witton Albion and 1-2 at Runcorn Linnets. In the FA Cup Macclesfield won away at Wythenshawe Town 2-0, Mossley 4-2, and West Didsbury and Chorlton 4-2, before being knocked out 0-1 at Coalville Town in the 2nd qualifying round. In the FA Trophy, the Silkmen won at home, beating Tadcaster Albion 7-0, Widnes 5-1, and Bamber Bridge 6-1, before losing to Guiseley 0-2 in the 1st round proper.
Macclesfield players to watch - 24 year old attacking midfielder Alex Curran, is well known at Holt House and is one of the best players to pass through Colne FC. Alex joined the Reds after being released from Blackburn Rovers in 2017, and he scored 43 goals in 87 games in his 2 year spell at the club. He then moved to progressive National League side Stockport County and was loaned out to FC United, where he unfortunately broke his leg. A further loan to Curzon Ashton was made permanent and he scored 13 goals in 44 games for the National League North side, before moving to Macclesfield this summer. Curran has scored 11 times this season in 23 appearances for the Silkmen.
Striker Nicky Maynard started as a youth at Arsenal before joining Crewe Alexandra’s academy. His goals earned him a move to Championship side Bristol City, then West Ham United, and he represented Cardiff City in the Premier league. Nicky then dropped down the EFL and Scottish leagues with various clubs before joining Maccs this August, where he has scored 12 goals in all competitions.
21 year old James Berry began his youth career at Liverpool. He then had spells at Wigan Athletic and Hull City before joining Altrincham. He was loaned to Macclesfield last season and he scored 22 times before joining permanently in March. This season he has already weighed in with 13 goals.
Another summer signing Neil Kengni, netted 18 times last season as he helped Marine gain promotion to the NPL Premier league. The pacy 22 year old striker was identified as Macclesfield’s top summer target and he’s scored 8 times already this term.
6 foot 3 midfielder and skipper Laurent Mendy learned his trade in Sweden with IFK Amal before making the move to Macclesfield. Laurent played 44 times for the Silkmen last season and is an ever present this campaign.
Midfielder Luke Murphy, began his career with Crewe Alexandra and was there for 5 years before a £1 million plus transfer fee took him to Championship side Leeds United, where he made over 100 appearances. After a loan spell with Burton Albion, from 2018-2020 Luke played for Bolton Wanderers, before returning to Crewe for the last 2 seasons becoming club captain. In August of this year, he signed for the Silkmen, returning to the town in which he was born.
Brazilian youth international goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga was a bit of a coop signing when he made the season long loan move in the summer, from Liverpool. The highly rated 19 year old began his career at Fluminense before making the move to Anfield for an initial £1 million fee. Marcelo came off injured at Runcorn Linnets a couple of games ago and will be out until the new year. Wyll Stanway, who played at Holt House last month for Bootle, has been drafted in on loan from Chester as cover.
Defender Joe Bunney is 6 foot 5 and he is now at his 10th permanent club. Joe has plenty of EFL experience at Rochdale, Northampton Town, Bolton and Grimsby Town and he joined the Maccs pre season after spending last term at Altrincham and Warrington Rylands.
Guyana international midfielder Neil Danns has just turned 40, and he has over 500 appearances in the Premier league and the EFL. His career began in the top flight with Blackburn Rovers 20 years ago, and he has also played in the Championship with Birmingham City, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers. Neil then dropped down the leagues and signed for the Silkmen at the beginning of last season, scoring 22 times to help them win the title and being awarded player’s player and supporters player of the season.
Powerful striker, Tom Clare is 6 foot 5 and he was last season’s leading scorer with 23 goals after joining from Pontefract Collieries. Tom was a Barnsley youth, before signing for Bradford City. He has since played for Boston, Bradford PA and Buxton and is still only 23.
After the loss at home to Guiseley in the FA Trophy, Danny Whitaker was relieved of his first team duties as manager. His replacement was former Warrington Rylands boss David McNabb. McNabb led Rylands to 3 promotions and also lifted the FA Vase in his 4 years in charge.
Last time out for the Reds - Last Saturday the Reds travelled to 2nd placed Leek Town as they returned to league action. With Luke Stowe injured, Phil Brown reshuffled his pack and adopted a more attacking line up in a 433 formation, with Lucas Weaver coming in and joining Watkinson and Lusiama up front. Tom Fagan came in at right back in place of Jake Wallace, and Harry Winstanley was named on the bench for the first time since returning from injury. The two sides felt each other out early on with a few half chances each, and neither side was giving anything away. That all changed in the 25th minute when a right sided high cross from Dan Trickett-Smith, hung in the air long enough for Rob Stevenson, to pull off Tom Hoyle, and head goalwards. Andre Mendes in the Colne goal comfortably collected the ball, but the linesman on the far side adjudged that he was behind the line and flagged for a goal. Despite the Colne protests, the referee had to go with his linesman and Town had the lead. The Reds bossed the rest of the half but could not break down the Leek defence and skipper Paul Dugdale had to leave the action due to a hamstring injury and he was replaced with Tom McCann. Second placed Leek are renowned for improving in the 2nd half of games, but Colne continued to control the play and peg them back. The Reds were dominating the midfield and continued to do so when Jake Wallace came on for Oli Roberts and then went to left back releasing Tom McCann to the centre of the park. Colne continued to press but could not break down the best defence in the division. In the last minute of injury time, a Lusiama free-kick didn’t penetrate, but eventually fell perfectly to Owen Watkinson on his left foot, but from 7 yards out his effort didn’t have enough power to evade the block, and Colne left Harrison Park empty handed. A great effort from the Reds, and any neutral observer would have been confused to determine which side was 2nd in the league and which one was 17th. For his energy and attempts on goal Lucas Weaver edged Colne’s man of the match. Full praise also for the manager for getting his tactics spot on, with Leek’s match reporter declaring “pushed all the way by the lively and competitive Lancashire side who will feel aggrieved not to have got something out of the game which their efforts deserved”.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Paul Dugdale trained fully on Thursday and should be ok.
Luke Stowe pulled his hamstring in training last week and although he’s improved he’ll be out for a few more weeks and brought back slowly.
McDaniel “Danny” Kyobe is recovering from a fractured collar bone and he has been on non contact training this week.
Aaron Turner is still awaiting a scan, concerning his meniscus knee issue.
Jack Doherty is still awaiting surgery for his ACL injury, that will rule him out for the season.
Hakan Burton is well ahead with his rehabilitation, which may well see him return sooner than first thought. The Colne keeper did some light training on Thursday.
Team news - Matty Kardacz and Ellis Wallbank have signed dual registrations with Padiham and Longridge Town respectively. This will hopefully get them more playing time and they can be recalled if needed. Ben Anderson has joined the Reds from Longridge Town to help bolster the lack of natural width in the squad. The left wing back played in the NPL Premier division last season with Lancaster City. Skipper Paul Dugdale should be fit following his hamstring issue and Harry Winstanley will be on the bench hoping to get some minutes. If Phil Brown sticks with last week’s formation, it could well be an unchanged side with Anderson a possible starter if the captain isn’t 100%. If the Colne gaffer reverts to 2 strikers then Anderson is likely to come in on the left side of midfield at the expense of one of the forwards. McCann, Wallace and Lombard will likely make up the squad.
Non league’s most progressive club Macclesfield have led the table from the off. In their last game, Macc won 2-1 away at Prescot Cables. Despite having a man sent off after half an hour, Cables took the lead in the 52nd minute. That lead only lasted 60 seconds, before James Berry equalised, and 7 minutes from time defender Dan Cowan, who’d gone up for a corner, blasted in the winner. The Silkmen have won 7 of their last 10 league games and they have scored a massive 41 goals, and conceded just 13 this season. Their squad is a mixture of ex football league players and non league standouts who have transferred in from clubs higher up the pyramid. They have won 6 out of 8 away from home this season and will be confident of leaving Holt House with all 3 points. Colne were desperately unlucky to not take at least a point from 2nd placed Leek Town last Saturday. But the Reds have won only 2 of their 8 home league games this term, and are clearly the lowest scorers in the table with just 12 goals. Phil Brown will be mindful of the opposition’s attacking prowess when deciding how to set up, and he’ll take the positives from the fact that only 3 defences in the league have conceded less goals than the Reds. Whether he goes for a shoot out with an attacking line up, or opts for an “irresistible force versus an immovable object”, the game offers up a fascinating spectacle and reminds of the October FA Trophy home game against Warrington Rylands, and the Red Army remember fondly how that one ended. It’s a big ask for Colne to turn over the big spending, odds on league favourites, but will the full-timers from Cheshire enjoy the Holt House undulating pitch?, the energy sapping slope?, the cruel Pendle Polar gale?, the Red Army virtually on top of them?, and a competitor willing to fight for every yard? Colne have scored the same number of goals in their FA Trophy venture this season as they have in the league, so obviously the cup team is the one which needs to step forward on Saturday. Phil Brown and the Red Army faithful will be hoping that post match, the professionals returning on their luxury coach, back to their 4g pitch in sunny Cheshire, are describing their 90 minutes with the young Lions, as “exhausting”, “frustrating”, “brutal”, “fierce” and obviously just a little bit “savage”.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £9
Concessions : £6
Under 16’s : £1
Under 12’s: Free
Tues 6th December - Colne v Witton Albion - 19:45 NPL West
Sat 10th December - 1874 Northwich v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Tues 13th December - Colne v Workington - 19:45 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games
Bootle v 1874 Northwich - 13:00
Hanley Town v Mossley - 15:00
Leek Town v Runcorn Linnets - 12:00
Newcastle Town v Workington - 15:00
Ramsbottom United v City of Liverpool - 13:00
Skelmersdale United v Kidsgrove Athletic - 15:00
Trafford v Prescot Cables - 15:00
Widnes v Glossop North End - 15:00
Witton Albion v Clitheroe - 13:00