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Feature

On This Day: Rochdale 1 v 2 Macclesfield Town

12 April 2020

For many Silkmen fans, the scenes that we all witnessed at Spotland sixteen years ago today are still up there with some of their all-time favourite Silkmen memories.
 
With Macc embroiled in a dramatic relegation scrap, the club had reached out to former Manchester City boss Brian Horton to try and steady the ship and preserve our Football League status.
 
Horton had made the perfect start to life at the Moss Rose as we headed over to Lancashire on Easter Monday, having won both of his previous games at the helm.
 
Yet there was still much work to do if Macc were to retain our league status and we came up against a Rochdale side who lay just one place above us in the table.
 
As far a six-pointers go, this was certainly one which encapsulated the imagination of the vast numbers of Silkmen fans who entered the stadium with a renewed sense of optimism.
 
That said, Rochdale had traditionally been one of our bogey teams - especially away from home and whilst the Macc fans enjoyed the local hostelries before the game, there was still some tangible nerves circulating.
 
As the masses descended on Spotland, the noise levels soared when the Silkmen side marched out onto the pitch in their bright orange kits.
 
The atmosphere which the fans created that day will always be something which we all still look back on with a great deal of pride - as they willed the lads on in raucous fashion from the first minute until the last.
 
Macc were handed an early scare when Gary Jones' fizzing effort was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Steve Wilson, yet it was the visitors that continued to enjoy the bulk of possession during the opening exchanges.
 
Matthew Tipton and Jon Parkin both went close to breaking the deadlock and just after the quarter-hour mark, Chris Priest was desperately unlike to see his low drive cleared off the line with 'keeper Neil Edwards well-beaten.
 
Horton's men continued to apply the pressure, with Steve Payne proving to be a rock within the Silkmen defence - rolling back the years and looking every bit of the man mountain that he was during the glory years under Sammy McIlroy.
 
Despite this, Dale were to score against the run of play to hand Steve Parkin's side the lead. The goal came from a perfectly executed set piece which saw Neil Readfearn's looping corner powerfully headed into the top corner of the net by defender Greg Heald.
 
It was a bitter pill for the travelling contingent to swallow - yet it only served to increase the volume levels even higher.
 
For a time it looked like the home side could well double their lead, as Grant Holt fired a fifteen yard volley marginally wide of goal and shortly after, former Silkmen striker Kevin Townson warmed the hands of Wilson with a rasping drive from the edge of the area.
 
As the half-time whistle blew, many Macc fans tucked into their meat pies more than happy to take a point from the game if it was offered - yet at that stage, nobody could really have predicted what was to follow.
 
Although Macc continued in the ascendancy at the start of the second period, the home side still looked a potent force - particularly with Grant Holt looking in inspired form as he majestically fired inches wide of Wilson's far post just after play had resumed.
 
Yet just after the hour mark, the visitors restored parity when Graham Potter's cross was sublimely controlled in the box by Tipton and after nimbly turning, he rifled the ball home from ten yards out.
 
The whole dynamics of the game changed following that one piece of brilliance, as the growing frustration at not being able to convert pressure into goals was diluted as Horton's men set their sights on claiming maximum points.
 
Just two minutes later Jon Parkin raced through on goal, yet Edwards did well to bravely come out to save with his feet in a move which subsequently saw the iconic striker temporarily withdrawn to receive treatment.
 
The decisive moment came eight minutes from time, when George Abbey surged down the right before unleashing a tantalising cross into the area which struck the arm of Dale goalscorer Heald.
 
Referee Cowburn pointed to the spot and as Matthew Tipton placed the ball on the spot, time stood still.
 
The Silkmen fans had no reason to fear however, as the nervous disposition which characterised the away following were not replicated by Tipton - who confidently sent Edwards the wrong way to signal absolute bedlam.
 
Rochdale did have some concerted spells of possession during the dying minutes, yet they could only muster speculative efforts which did not unduly trouble Wilson in the Macc goal.
 
The final whistle brought with it memorable scenes, as the players joined with their adoring fans to celebrate what still represents one of our greatest-ever Football League victories.
 
Macclesfield Town: Wilson, Carragher, Payne, Welch, Abbey, Harsley, Potter, Priest, Widdrington, Parkin, Tipton

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