2018 saw the Silkmen begin the new year as the team to beat. The business end of the season had arrived, and John Askey’s side were sitting pretty six points clear at the top.
The National League leaders began on New Year's day with an away trip to West Yorkshire as struggling FC Halifax awaited Askey’s juggernauts with the Silkmen looking to kick off the second-half of the season with a win.
Three points were secured in emphatic style as Mitch Hancox fired a hat-trick to help beat The Shaymen 4-1. The 24-year-old fired two first-half strikes to put the Silkmen two goals to the good before a second-half penalty secured the win for Askey’s side.
The result kept Macclesfield six points clear of second place rivals Aldershot, and with the Cheshire side in full confidence ahead of their next fixture with fourth from bottom Solihull.
However the Birmingham outlet would travel back to the Midlands with the points shared after a goalless stalemate.
The result saw the Silkmen’s lead at the top cut to four points as Aldershot left Dover with a 2-1 victory to close the gap at the top.
League duties would be suspended just days later as the FA Trophy came calling once again with Askey’s side looking to go one better than their Wembley defeat the following season.
A familiar face and a familiar ground awaited as The Shay was the destination for Macclesfield’s first-round clash as FC Halifax were the opponents once again for the Silkmen.
Fortunes were reversed just a week after their 4-1 thumping of Billy Heath’s team as Halifax would get revenge just a week later to beat the Silkmen 1-0 as hopes of another Wembley return were quickly crushed in the opening round.
Askey’s troops had to pick themselves up as fellow promotion pushers AFC Fylde would soon await the National League leaders.
A trip to Mill Farm would prove to be arguably the worst day of the season for the Macclesfield faithful as the Silkmen’s 11 match unbeaten came to an end.
Not only would John Askey and his side leave Lancashire empty-handed, but would leave with their biggest defeat of the season as Dave Challinor’s Coasters would condemn Macclesfield to a 6-0 loss.
The only consolation on the day was that Aldershot’s draw at home to Ebbsfleet kept the lead at the top to a respectable three points.
A week later saw the Silkmen needing to once again bounce back after two disappointing defeats and a fixture against bottom of the table Torquay United couldn’t come quick enough.
However, a home clash with The Gulls would only complete what was a disappointing month for Askey and his side.
Danny Whitehead’s 25-yard opener wasn’t enough to beat United as the points were shared after Elliott Romain's equaliser saw the opening month of 2018 end with the gap at the top down to only a point and with only one victory all month.
By Joshua Kerr