MOSS ROSE: Heavy Flurries And Bitter Ends

Like most of the country this week, my eyes were consistently fixed to the weather forecast. A dramatic shift from wet and mild to snow and ice was scheduled for Thursday night and on into the weekend.

As I awoke to snow on Friday morning, I wondered if Wrexham’s game at nearby Macclesfield would survive the conditions. Thankfully (at the time), the Macclesfield faithful put in a big shift to remove the snow from their Moss Rose home and the game would start as scheduled – half 12 in front of the BT Sport cameras.

I put on a few layers and made the journey over to Cheshire for the table-topping clash.

The Highs

Pre-match journey

Despite having to trudge along icy paths and stand in sub-zero temperatures, I quite enjoyed making my way to Macclesfield. Everything felt serene and still. Hard to believe a football match was taking place in just a few hours.

The train ride was particularly pleasant. Faint sunlight poked through hazy skies as we passed fields and fields of white. They were the kind of scenes that helped even novice photographers (like myself) create postcard-perfect shots.

In Stockport, the snow dissipated. The reappearance of brown brickwork and wet pavements highlighted the enjoyment I’d had gazing out the window beforehand.

The fun continued though, as I found the Wrexham fans in good spirits waiting for the next train to Macc. They sang a few numbers, booed the train heading to Chester and even received a call of ‘who are ya?’ from the station’s tannoy announcer. I felt ready for the game and – with a potentially vibrant atmosphere in the away end – ready for the elements as well.

Scott Boden’s face

Unfortunately, the game didn’t go so well. We were one down after 10 minutes and that meant we were fighting to stay in the contest for long periods. The Silkmen should have scored more before the one positive thing to take away, which was Scott Boden’s first goal of the season. And the celebration that ensued.

I’ve seen Boden play a couple of times already this season and I feel he’s been unlucky to be benched so often. He’s a very intelligent footballer from what I’ve seen. His ability to link up play with neat flicks and lay-offs have been apparent whenever I’ve watched him, whilst his track record says he can score goals too.

So it was no surprise when he bagged his first for Wrexham to cancel out Scott Wilson’s opener. I keep replaying the moment in my head, from when the ball hit the bar and went in, to the look of delight on his face as he ran over to us fans behind the goal.

The five minutes after that finish were amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever expressed my passion more as a Wrexham fan: standing in that unsheltered terrace, belting out Wrexham chants while my mouth filled with snow. I just wish that memory and goal meant something more in the grand scheme of the match.

The Lows

Biggest defeat of the season

After that equaliser, Wrexham were clinically dispatched. Instead of keeping the game tight for the remaining 15 minutes to claim a point, we were caught on the counter-attack. Wilson grabbed his second with a move similar to his first, Tyrone Marsh playing him in again to set up a one-on-one with Chris Dunn in the Wrexham goal. Both times, Wilson finished coolly into the bottom corner.

It seemed to suck the life out of the away side and fans. One supporter behind me tried to gee up the players with cries of ‘Wrexham, Wrexham’ but we were all pretty stunned. I guess the weather had taken its toll. All that effort to find an equaliser in the constant driving snow, only to be back at square one moments later.

That still doesn’t really excuse the collapse that happened at the end. The Wrexham players’ heads dropped and Wilson took advantage by being the most liveliest to Dunn’s spillage for his hat-trick. David Fitzpatrick then had all the time in the world to hit a fourth. Although at that point, the visibility had become so poor that barely any Wrexham fans could see it from the opposite end.

Snow at Moss Rose

With half of the National League season played, this was the corresponding fixture from when Macclesfield beat Wrexham on the opening day. No team had previously scored more than two goals against us in that time, as we’ve built the strongest defence in the division. However, a lack of goals has also emerged and I don’t think the players believed they could get back into the game after Macclesfield re-took the lead.

A lot of Wrexham fans believe this is due to bad strikers. Personally, I think the midfield has been a problem all year. Chris Holroyd and Scott Boden are proven at this level but that’s not worth anything if they don’t receive service. Even when young striker George Miller came on, he asked for the ball but never saw his runs pay off.

I don’t feel like there’s a balance in the midfield. Sam Wedgbury is great in there protecting the back four, and we missed him dearly in this game. But we need someone next to him who can take the ball forward and start moves. A lot of people think Marcus Kelly is the man to do this but he’s very often played out wide.

Getting a target man who can win headers is also an option to play alongside either Boden or Holroyd. The fact that we’re not the finished article, and yet we’re so high up in the league, is a positive though. If we can stay competitive and recruit well in January, anything could happen.

The coldest game of my life

I attended the game with a friend who lives in Macclesfield. The last game we went to was in Austria where it was 30°C. The contrast to this match couldn’t have been more extreme.

The John Askey Stand – named after their current manager after nearly two decades of service as a player – left the away fans totally exposed. Things didn’t help when a number of weather-related incidents stopped play.

Already 3-1 down with about 10 minutes remaining, a man walked onto the pitch. He began strolling along the edge of the penalty area with a shovel like the final whistle had already been blown. Then he set off for the other box in the same leisurely manner. Meanwhile a fog had set in and we wondered if the game would be abandoned.

Suddenly an announcement was made and fans began jumping onto the pitch, desperate to stop the game being called off. One man dressed as Santa ran on and started gyrating to the crowd with a shovel in his hand. It was all very strange.

Eventually the game restarted. They scored a fourth during eight minutes of injury time and we could all finally find some warmth.

The Verdict

Although I’m sure Macclesfield fans won’t care what any Wrexham fan thinks of their ground given our awful record there, this was my first visit to Moss Rose and I wasn’t overly impressed. That’s not just because of the scoreline either. I honestly mistook the stadium for a car dealership when we first arrived, with the parking situated on a street corner outside the London Road stand.

Macclesfield Town Football Club

The home support was below what I was expecting for a side chasing the title too. A crowd of 2,402 consisted of 911 Wrexham fans and the early goal killed our spirits. The atmosphere suffered as a result.

However, I did feel like we got value for money at £15 a ticket. Macclesfield fans and most neutral supporters will probably view it as a classic. There were plenty of goals, penalty claims, a booking for the substitute goalkeeper and a rush to keep the game from being abandoned at the end.

Coming away from the ground I felt despondent but the table hasn’t changed much. Macclesfield top the league and we’re still two points behind them. Considering we had two full-backs in the middle of midfield and were looking like the side who’d go on to win with 15 minutes left, it’s not all doom and gloom yet. Despite the weather.

Moss Rose Stadium, Macclesfield

Macclesfield Town 4 – 1 Wrexham
National League

Ground rating: 3/10

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