Match Preview: Bucks v Macclesfield Town
AFC Telford United welcome Macclesfield Town to the New Bucks Head on Saturday.
Although this game will be the first ever meeting between AFC Telford United and Macclesfield Town. Telford United and Macclesfield were regular foes prior to the Silkmen’s promotion to the Football League in 1997.
The last time a Macclesfield side travelled to Telford was in the GM Vauxhall Conference on 2nd November 1996, with Macclesfield winning 3-0 on their way to the title. Telford’s team that day also included Mark Turner, son of current Shrewsbury manager Graham, whilst the Macclesfield line-up included former AFC Telford United man Neil Howarth.
Last season was Macclesfield Town's 15th consecutive season in the Football League and their 13th consecutive season in the fourth tier of English football which, at that time, made them the longest-serving members of League Two.
However, the Cheshire club could not avoid relegation last season as a dreadful run of form from Christmas onwards saw them plummet down the table. Indeed Macclesfield failed to win any games from January 2012 until the end of the season, a total of 25 games without a victory - a run with which Bucks’ fans will no doubt empathise.
With relegation to the Blue Square Bet Premier sealed, the club appointed Steve King as their new manager. King began his managerial career with Lewes in 2003 and has also had spells in charge at Northwich Victoria and Farnborough, before returning to Lewes for a second spell at the helm in 2011.
King took Lewes from the Isthmian League Division One South to the Conference National in five years. Furthermore, in his first season at Farnborough (2009/10), the Cherrywood Road club won the Southern League Premier Division and the following season - despite a player embargo – they reached the Conference South play-off final where they lost 4–2 to Ebbsfleet United.
In terms of the Town playing squad, the most notable name for Telford supporters is likely to be striker Matthew Barnes-Homer. The Dudley-born marksman was a one-time Telford target under former boss Rob Smith and has had spells with various clubs throughout the Midlands including Kidderminster Harriers and Willenhall Town. He has already netted 15 goals for Macclesfield this term.
There was also a flurry of activity during the January transfer window, with midfielder Darren Murphy one of four new arrivals at Moss Rose. Wolves and Northern Ireland midfielder Jonny Gorman and teenage Blackburn forward Micah Evans have both joined on loan, whilst ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Rhys Taylor signed as cover for the injured Lance Cronin.
The Silkmen may also include striker Amari Morgan-Smith in their squad. Wolverhampton-born Morgan-Smith had a long stint with Ilkeston Town before joining Luton, and Telford fans may remember him for scoring a brace for the Hatters at the New Bucks Head last season. He left the club to join Kidderminster Harriers on loan recently but was hastily recalled last week.
Given that the Silkmen have had to rebuild following relegation, it’s perhaps not surprising that they have had an inconsistent season to-date. The Cheshire club had hoped to push for the play-off positions but mixed results in recent weeks have seen them fall well adrift of the leading pack and a comfortable mid-table finish now looks to be the only outcome.
As for the Bucks, only wins will do now in the quest to achieve Conference safety but caretaker boss Graham Hyde is focusing on taking some of that pressure of his players. Speaking to the official matchday programme ahead of the game, Hyde has said: “You can’t play football well if you’re tense and uptight, so the players need to enjoy their football. I see it as my job to bring the players through this and get a few wins between now and the end of the season.”