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21 August 2018 Venue Moss Rose Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Match Preview: Macclesfield Town vs Cheltenham Town

21 August 2018

Sky Bet League Two action returns to Moss Rose tonight, as we welcome Gary Johnson’s Cheltenham Town.


Macc and The Robins have had almost identical starts to this campaign, as we search for our first points in the league but winning on penalties in the Carabao Cup a week ago.


The Silkmen defeated higher league opposition in Bradford City, before Michael Rose showed his set-piece credentials in the Oldham loss at the weekend.
Tonight’s visitors are yet to have found the net in the league this season, losing 1-0 on Saturday against Carlisle United.


The Robins will also see two very familiar figures in the home dugout this evening in Mark Yates and Neil Howarth - who played together at the Gloucestershire side, before returning as Manager and First Team Coach between 2009-2014.


But history aside, both teams will see this tie as a crucial fixture to get points on the board, however with the magnificent performances from the fans so far this season, Macc will almost certainly have a home advantage.


Team News


Mark Yates will once again be without long-term absentee Elliot Durrell who continues his rehabilitation from an adductor issue, whilst Ryan Lloyd and Peter Vincenti are also expected to be sidelined.


One to watch - Johnny Mullins


Current Cheltenham Town captain, Johnny Mullins, signed for the Robins in the summer from Luton Town.


The 32-year-old made over fifty appearances in all competitions for The Hatters over the last two seasons, wearing the captain’s armband on multiple occasions and helping the Bedfordshire side to League Two promotion.


The experienced 6ft-tall defender has also featured heavily for Oxford United and Rotherham United, spending three years at both clubs after two years at Stockport County.


He began his career with Reading back in 2004, joining Kidderminster Harriers on loan for two seasons before making his EFL debut with Mansfield Town.


As well as being a strong presence in the back-line, where Mullins helped Luton keep seven clean sheets in the twenty-two matches he played in last season, he has scored over 30 career goals and could prove a handful for Macc from set-pieces.


The Opposition


Cheltenham were first promoted to the Football League in 1999 and since then fluctuated between League Two and League One, winning promotion to the English third tier via Playoffs in 2002 and 2006.


The Robins have only spent one season back in the Conference since their EFL debut, which is a credit to Mark Yates who helped steady the ship during his tenure.


They lost just five matches in the 2015-16 season to win the title and confirm a return to the English Fourth Tier at the first time of asking.


Their most significant piece of silverware came 20 years ago this summer, winning the FA Trophy in the 1997/98 season.


Then Manager Steve Cotterill guided the Robins through the competition to a 1-0 victory against Southport at Wembley.


Last season, Cheltenham finished 17th in League Two despite scoring 67 goals during the campaign.


Only Accrington Stanley, Luton Town, Wycombe Wanderers (all promoted to League One) and Notts County scored more.

 

By Matt Bates

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Match Reports

Match Report: Macclesfield Town 1-1 Cheltenham Town

21 August 2018

The Silkmen were left to rue a string of missed chances including a late penalty that would have ensured victory for the hosts. However, the footballing gods had other ideas as The Robins struck a late equaliser to deny Mark Yates his first domestic victory of the season.

Danny Whitaker’s early first-half free-kick from 20-yards found the bottom right-hand corner to give The Silkmen a deserved early lead and the game should have been out of sight when referee Paul Marsden pointed to the spot with 15 minutes left to play.

However, Whitaker failed to double the host's advantage and his tally for the evening when his spot-kick was saved heroically by Scott Flinders.

It proved to be the turning point of the game as the visitors drew level in the 84th minute when substitute Manny Duku came off the bench to deny Macclesfield the win and earn The Robins their first point of the season.

The game started brightly for the hosts with Macclesfield storming out of the blocks with waves of early attacks that completely bewildered the visitors and placed Yates’ side in the driving seat.

Two early shots on target should have been enough evidence for the visitors that The Silkmen meant business and Harry Smith looked hungrier than ever with his initial effort forcing Cheltenham goalkeeper Scott Flinders into a smart save.

Scott Wilson was another Macc player looking to get off the mark for the season when he found himself one-on-one with the 32-year-old shot-stopper. However, the former Macclesfield keeper once again came flying out to deny his former teammate.

Manchester United goalkeeper and Silkmen debutant Kieran O’Hara conducted himself well in his opening appearance at The Moss Rose, with the 22-year-old goalkeeper being called into early action to save a testing shot from Ryan Broom.

However, The Silkmen continued to grow in stature and their early dominance soon showed when a free-kick from 20-yards was struck by Player-Assistant Manager Whitaker whose curling right-footed strike was expertly whipped around the Cheltenham wall to find the bottom right-hand corner and fire the hosts into a deserved early lead.

The opening goal saw Macclesfield in the ascendancy, and the free-flowing football didn’t stop there. The Silkmen smelt blood and should have added a second when Smith found himself through on goal with acres of space. The 23-year-old striker got the ball onto his desired right foot before curling an effort agonisingly just shy of the post to deny Yates’ side a two-goal advantage.

Half-time saw Macclesfield leave the field towards the dressing room in the lead for the first time this season-  despite the scoreline debatably not truly reflecting the Silkmen’s early supremacy.

The second period saw The Robins grow into the game with the hosts holding back and sitting uncomfortably deeper than usual.

A number of Cheltenham set-pieces looked to test the heart of the Macclesfield defence and none other than Fiacre Kelleher answered the call with a number of heroic blocks and interceptions frustrating the visitors to limited second-half chances.

Macclesfield could have been home and dry when Referee Marsden awarded a spot-kick when Will Boyle fouled Nathan Blissett in the box fifteen from time. Whitaker stepped up to double his tally but saw his spot-kick tipped away from Flinders.

The Robins were a much better outfit second-half and despite failing to really test the hosts all game, their persistence paid off when substitute Duka pounced on a loose ball and struck home to salvage a point for the Gloucestershire side.

The Silkmen will have to dust themselves off from another late setback quickly, as their attention turns to Saturday where they will host Mansfield Town at The Moss Rose for another enthralling League Two encounter.

Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Grimes, Pearson, Blissett, Rose, Whitaker, Arthur (Napa 76), Smith, Wilson (Welch-Hayes 66)

Unused subs: Lowe, Marsh, Taylor, Evans, Maycock

Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Mullins, Antangana (Kalala 70), Thomas, McAlinden, Broom, Boyle, Addai, Debayo (Hussey 54), Maddox, Forster (Duku 59)

Unused subs: Tozer, Dawson, Baldwin, Lovett

By Joshua Kerr

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