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On This Day: Eastleigh 0 v 2 Macclesfield Town

21 April 2020

21st April 2018 is a date that no Silkmen fan will ever forget - the emotions which it elicits will always remain etched firmly in all our hearts forevermore - as this was the day that we wrote arguably the greatest football fairytale ever told.
Two years on from that glorious day down at Eastleigh, the pictures from that historic trip still bring tears of pride to many of us - because it symbolised the fact that no matter what obstacles were put in our way, we never gave up on our wild dream of promotion to the Football League.
All through that defiant season we were written off, with commentators far and wide professing that we would fail in our quest to re-write the history books in the most emotional way possible.
As each game passed, our resolve to defy the staunchest of odds grew stronger and stronger though and ultimately, we proved everyone wrong due to an unwavering belief that we would overcome every single challenge together - united as one behind our blue and white clad heroes on the pitch.
The plethora of memories which will undoubtedly come to the forefront of our minds today will be inherently personal - you will remember where you were and what you did - but most importantly, you will remember how you felt when that final whistle went.
Your story is a valuable part of the wider narrative, in that all your individual anecdotes help us to tell our collective story. This is what we did. This is what we felt. This is what we achieved.
As the Silkmen fans streamed into the Silverlake Stadium, they were unwavering in their belief that victory would be secured and the National League title claimed for the third time in our history.
After the two sides marched out onto the pitch and were greeted by a cacophony of noise, it was Askey's side who started firmly in the ascendancy.
Indeed, if there were any nerves bubbling underneath the service, then they were well and truly nullified as early as the third minute when Tyrone Marsh connected with David Fitzpatrick's cross to fire home the opener.
The Spitfires did their best to strike back with a concerted spell of pressure following the goal, but a combination of incredible goalkeeping from Shwan Jalal and solid defending kept them at bay.
Just after the quarter-hour mark, Chris Zebroski fired a low drive towards goal and as it flew past Jalal, it looked certain to draw the two teams level. That was before George Pilkington cleared the ball from the line in what represented another pulsating piece of defending from the man known as "Mr Reliable".
Mid-way through the first period, Macc could well have doubled our lead when Keith Lowe peeled off his man and headed Mitch Hancox's teasing free-kick fractions wide of the near post.
The second half saw the visitors really take a hold of the game, as Eastleigh were largely reduced to speculative efforts which did not unduly trouble Jalal.
The champions-elect pushed forward looking for what would surely represent a terminal second goal and we all thought that it had come when Hancox pulled the ball back to Danny Whitaker on the edge of the area - yet he was to be denied by Reda Johnson who somehow managed to push the ball around the post and out for a corner.
The realisation that our dream was going to come true came on the hour mark, as the 494 loyal Silkmen fans started the party in earnest when Macc doubled our lead. A ball in from the right was brilliantly deflected into the path of Hancox by our Magic Man and the former struck across the face of goal to emphatically find the back of the net.
Macc continued to defend as gallantly and as resolutely as they had all season and when the final whistle blew, the outpouring of emotion was something which simply cannot be put into words.
The fans joined with their heroes to celebrate a monumental achievement and it is one which will never, ever be forgotten.
Here are the match highlights from that historic afternoon -
Macclesfield Town: Jalal, Hodgkiss, Lowe, Pilkington, Fitzpatrick, Marsh, Whitehead, Evans, Whitaker, Hancox, Blissett

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