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First Day Fixtures Over The Last Twenty-Five Years: Part One

17 June 2019

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated fixture release this coming Thursday, we take a look at the season's opening games over the course of the last twenty-five years.

Our 1994/95 GM Vauxhall Conference campaign began with a home tie against The Wings of Welling United.

After finishing in seventh position at the end of the previous season, it was hoped that we would build on this during Sammy McIlroy's second season in-charge at the club.

Little did we know that title glory would ensue and our historic season began with a 3 - 1 victory courtesy of goals from Neil Sorvel, Phil Power and John Askey.

With promotion to the Football League denied to us despite lifting the Conference trophy, Macc kicked-off the 1995/96 season determined to claim successive championships.

Our title defence began here at the Moss Rose, as Woking made the long journey up from Surrey to raise the curtain on the new season.

The match itself proved to be a dramatic one, as Macc recorded a 3 - 2 victory over The Cards, with Marc Coates, Darren Lyons and Karl Marginson all on the scoresheet.

Despite the fact that Sammy's side would finish the 1995/96 season in fourth position, a glorious FA Trophy win maintained our glittering momentum.

Yet, we had unfinished business to attend to and that meant securing our defiant promotion to the Football League.

This was achieved in 1997, after an historic season which began with a visit from Kettering Town.

Second half strikes from Phil Power and Mark Gardiner secured a 2 - 0 victory that day and set us on our way for what proved to be one of the greatest achievements in our history.

Our first match in the Football League was played on 9th August 1997, as Torquay United visited the Moss Rose to contest a memorable fixture which will forever remain in the hearts and minds of those present.

Efe Sodje gave us a 7th minute lead that day, as he famously rose above the visiting defence to head home Colin Rose's tantalising cross from the left.

Although The Gulls would restore parity with an Andy Gurney strike, Macc would write the perfect ending when Richard Landon fired us back into the lead on 56 minutes to ensure that we started the season with maximum points.

Promotion to Nationwide League Division Three would follow, as the fairytale under McIlroy continued and we began our first-ever campaign in the third tier with a home game against the illustrious Fulham.

Managed by the familiar figure of Kevin Keegan, Macc fought gallantly against The Cottagers and at times, dominated both territory and possession.

Yet it was not to be for the hosts, as John Salako's majestic free-kick proved to the difference between the two sides.

With relegation suffered in the spring of 1999, McIlroy's men aimed to secure an immediate return to the Second Division and began the millennium season with another home fixture - this time against Northampton Town.

New signing Richie Barker's 57th minute strike proved to be the difference between the two sides that day, as Macc got off to the perfect start.

McIlroy would begin what would be his final season at the club by welcoming Scunthorpe United to the Moss Rose on 12th August 2000.

It would prove to be a frustrating afternoon for the Irishman however, as he saw his side suffer a 1 - 0 defeat at the hands of the North Lincolnshire outfit.

Gil Prescott was in charge twelve months later, as Macc kicked off the 2001/02 season with a home tie against Swansea City.

The deadlock was broke after just four minutes when Gareth Phillips headed home Stuart Roberts' pinpoint cross to put The Swans into the ascendancy.

Roberts would prove to be the danger-man once again on 20 minutes, when his cross was clinically finished by Frenchman Mamady Sidibe to double the visitors lead.

The Silkmen were to be handed a glimmer of hope just after the half-hour mark, as Darren Tinson was adjudged to have been impeded in the box and former Nottingham Forest striker Lee Glover confidently despatched the resultant penalty.

The hosts laid siege on the Swansea goal throughout the second period, as they looked to force a deserved equaliser. Yet the Welshmen secured maximum points with two minutes left, as Jonathan Coates was brought down by Dave Ridler in the area and Steve Watkin emphatically drilled home the subsequent spot-kick.

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