Back-to-back away wins over ti­tle ri­vals

The Non-League Football Paper - - RESULTS SERVICE - By MATT BAD­COCK

THE MORN­ING af­ter beat­ing Tran­mere the night be­fore: El­liott Dur­rell was look­ing af­ter his two young chil­dren, David Fitz­patrick was sat at the desk of his full-time job by 9am, vet­eran de­fender Ge­orge Pilk­ing­ton was feel­ing the ef­fects of two games in four days and Mac­cles­field Town fans were read­ing and re-read­ing state­ments about the fu­ture of boss John Askey.

Thank­fully the Silk­men sup­port­ers seem to have got the news they all wanted with leg­endary boss Askey surely stay­ing to con­tinue their re­mark­able ti­tle charge.

League Two Grimsby Town had been show­ing an in­ter­est in his ser­vices fol­low­ing their dis­missal of Rus­sell Slade. He couldn’t go now, could he?

Even with the re­source con­straints, it hasn’t been smooth sail­ing off the pitch for Askey with rum­blings about his re­la­tion­ship with the hi­er­ar­chy and a bank­ing er­ror blamed for late pay­ment of Jan­uary’s wages.

Sto­ry­book End­ing

But on the pitch it’s had the mak­ings of a re­mark­able story and Askey has to be the man to pen the crown­ing chap­ter.

A club le­gend from his play­ing days, he joined them in the North­ern Premier League as they rose through the Con­fer­ence into the old Sec­ond Di­vi­sion. Af­ter years at the club in var­i­ous roles, in­clud­ing a brief spell as man­ager, he was fi­nally handed the reins again in 2013 and con­sis­tently de­liv­ered re­sults – in­clud­ing mem­o­rable FA Cup runs and an FA Tro­phy fi­nal at Wem­b­ley.

Now he could be guid­ing them into the Foot­ball League.

Tues­day’s 4-1 away vic­tory over Tran­mere fol­lowed up a 2-1 suc­cess at Alder­shot Town last Sat­ur­day to take six points from two of their di­rect ri­vals and make it three wins in a row. Was it a four-day pe­riod where the ti­tle’s des­ti­na­tion took a step to­wards Moss Rose? There will no doubt be twists and turns but with 12 games to go, it moved them five points clear at the top of the Na­tional League and closer to a sto­ry­book end­ing.

“It would prob­a­bly be one of the big­gest things the club has achieved,” at­tacker Dur­rell tells

The NLP. “The gaffer’s do­ing a great job. It ob­vi­ously came out at the back end of Jan­uary what hap­pened – which, from what I can see, was a gen­uine er­ror – and some clubs could have seen that as a weak­ness against us. We just saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to bring us closer to­gether. It made us even more de­ter­mined to go on an­other good run.

“There is a lot of foot­ball to be played, we know that. But if we do pull it off, what an achieve­ment it will be.”

Dur­rell was one of many sum­mer ar­rivals as Askey, once again, pieced to­gether a side to punch well above its weight. The for­mer Hed­nes­ford Town, Wrex­ham and Chester at­tacker set up Nathan Blis­sett’s goal against the Shots be­fore he struck twice him­self against Tran­mere to take his own tally to six.


“I needed to make sure it was the right club I joined last sum­mer,” Dur­rell says. “I spoke to a num­ber of clubs but it was about mak­ing the right de­ci­sion. When I heard Mac­cles­field were in­ter­ested,

hav­ing their style played against them, I felt of foot­ball would suit me. I think that’s show­ing with the way I’ve per­formed this year. It’s great to be con­tribut­ing to a team and fight­ing for a ti­tle.

“It’s not any­thing we didn’t be­lieve in our­selves. Ev­ery­body has to be­lieve they can do it, but we did be­lieve we had an op­porsea­son. tu­nity this sea­son As soon as we started to put a string of re­sults to­gether that con­firmed it.”

Vic­tory at Tran­mere took their run to one de­feat in 15 games which, as Askey pointed out in a post-match in­ter­view with Silk Ra­dio’s Alas stair Pa­trick, is chamrm. pi­o­nship form At var­i­ous points through­sea­son, out the naysay­ers have claimed the wheels will fall off. None more so than fol­low­ing a 6-0

thump­ing by AFC Fylde at the end of Jan­uary.

“We win to­gether, we lose to­gether,” Dur­rell says. “Prob­a­bly 90 per cent of peo­ple wrote us off af­ter that. Go­ing on past sea­sons that’s what Mac­cles­field have tended to do, they’ve tended to drop off af­ter Christ­mas.


“That re­sult was prob­a­bly when peo­ple started to say, ‘Here they go again’. But we’ve dug in; worked hard and come through. Peo­ple were say­ing we were in bad form, but we lost once to Fylde with a bit of a freak re­sult – al­though credit to them they de­served to win – and then drew against Torquay, who are scrap­ping for their lives, and drew with Soli­hull, who have been in form.

“Aside from that there wasn’t a bad re­sult in there. This league is tough to put a string of re­sults to­gether as it is. To do what we’re do­ing is a credit to every­one. But we know there’s a long way to go and hope­fully we can carry it on.”

Per­haps their cur­rent po­si­tion is an in­di­ca­tor of the char­ac­ters Askey has in his chang­ing room.

“Be­fore I came here I’d been told the gaffer likes char­ac­ters that are all go­ing to go that lit­tle bit ex­tra for each other,” Dur­rell says. “From the per­for­mances and re­sults we’ve had of late, that shows what we’re about as a team, a squad and a club as a whole. It’s well doc­u­mented we haven’t got the great­est bud­get, but you don’t have to if you’ve got a good bunch of lads who want to work hard for each other. You can achieve what­ever you want.”

PIC­TURES: News Me­dia & Ian Mors­man

DURR-ABLE: El­liott Dur­rell leads the cel­e­bra­tions against Tran­mere, be­fore Danny Whi­taker scores a third from the penalty spot, be­low. Whi­taker also net­ted from the spot against Alder­shot, left. In­set be­low: John Askey

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