MACCLESFIELD FC SEASON REVIEW 2023/2024

23 May 2024 | Latest News

It was a season full of ups and downs where The Silkmen came within touching distance of three promotions in a row but ultimately fell just short. Here is our review of the 2023/24 campaign.  

The season started way back in August over in West Yorkshire as The Silkmen visited recently relegated Bradford (Park Avenue) and got off to the perfect start thanks to goals from Alex Curran and new club record signing Luke Duffy. Two consecutive 3-0 victories followed at the Leasing.com Stadium against Matlock Town and Gainsborough Trinity. Our first setbacks of the season followed away at Lancaster City and a late defeat away at FC United of Manchester completed with a 99th minute equaliser from Warrington Rylands saw a mixed month to start the season off.

September started on a Sunday afternoon in the North East as we started our Emirates FA Cup campaign away at Whickham where a 4-1 victory coupled with a wonder Conor O’Keefe save with the score at 2-1. Ashton United were the next to visit SK11 and a dominant display in the September sun saw another three points. Goals from Laurent Mendy and Luke Duffy saw Macc sink local rivals Buxton and progress in the FA Cup. Mark Duffy’s side continued their strong home form with Stafford Rangers being the next to come away from the Leasing.com Stadium empty-handed. A point away at Ilkeston, and further progression in the FA Cup against Warrington Rylands finished another strong month.

A memorable campaign in the FA Trophy started in The Potteries back at the start of October as a Hayden Campbell goal helped see off Hanley Town. A tough week followed as we squandered a 3-0 lead away at eventual champions Radcliffe to fall to defeat and saw our FA Cup journey end just one game from the First Round Proper away at Alfreton Town. An away win at Marine was the filling between four defeats in five in October as defeats to Morpeth Town and Worksop Town resulted in the departure of Mark Duffy. An interim team oversaw the 4-1 victory over Halesowen Town in the FA Trophy and Cheshire Senior Cup progression against Sandbach United at the end of the month before Alex Bruce was appointed the new First Team Manager alongside Phil Bardsley and Paul McGuinness.

Bruce’s first game in charge away at Marske United would later be taken away due to Marske dropping out the Northern Premier League. Therefore, Whitby Town on Remembrance Day would be his first official game in charge as we secured all three points despite a late scare. A halfway line goal from John Rooney would be cancelled out as Basford United secured a point under the lights against a below par Macc. The Silkmen would exact their revenge on Alfreton Town the following weekend as a 4-2 victory in the FA Trophy Second Round saw Macc progress to Round Three. Two high scoring home victories rounded off the month as a 6-0 win over Atherton Collieries courtesy of four goals from Kane Drummond and a 5-1 win over Guiseley continued Bruce’s unbeaten start.

Oumar Niasse marked his arrival in Silkmen colours with a hat-trick in the Cheshire Senior Cup against Tranmere Rovers before another FA Trophy away win this time away at Curzon Ashton continued Macc’s fine run. That run would be ended at home to Bradford (Park Avenue) with a high scoring affair falling the way of the visitors. Two away trips followed at Workington and Gainsborough Trinity with a point in Cumbria and all three in Lincolnshire before December ended with a 0-0 draw against Hyde United in front of over 4,000 fans on Boxing Day.

2024 started in the best possible fashion as a John Rooney hat-trick helped see off Warrington Rylands at Gorsey Lane. The Silkmen would be brought back down to earth as Lancaster City completed a league double with a 2-1 result for The Dolly Blues. A Tuesday night victory away Matlock secured our first league double of the campaign before Marc White’s Dorking came to town. A dominant display at the Leasing.com Stadium saw Wanderers defeated and Bruce’s side progress in the FA Trophy against the National League side. 10 man Macclesfield fell to a home defeat against league champions Radcliffe despite a valiant effort playing over 60 minutes with a man disadvantage after Tunde Owolabi’s controversial red card. The following Saturday saw a gritty victory away at play off rivals Guiseley before a youthful side were knocked out the Cheshire Senior Cup at the hands of Crewe Alexandra.

A winning start to February against Bamber Bridge was the perfect preparation for an FA Trophy Last 16 tie in the capital against Hampton & Richmond. It was a special day for over 350 travelling fans as goals from Lewis Fensome and Sam Heathcote saw The Silkmen make it to the Last Eight. A comeback victory against Ilkeston Town proved to be Bruce’s last as he departed to the club for the assistant job at Salford City. In came Michael Clegg, who was appointed manager alongside Nicky Hunt and Lewis Hardcastle on an 18 month deal from Rylands. The new management team would have to wait for their first game in charge after the away trip to Atherton Collieries was called off moments before kick off.

Clegg got off to a winning start with victory over Marine followed by another big day at the Leasing.com Stadium as The Silkmen progressed to the FA Trophy Semi Finals with victory over Coalville Town. An away defeat to Worksop Town proved to be a minor blip in the road in the month. Tom Clare was amongst the scorers on his return away at Stafford Rangers before a Tunde Owolabi hat-trick fought off Morpeth Town. Goals from two Sam’s away at Ashton United sent The Silkmen third in the table as Heathcote and Perry respectively scored despite Joe Hilton’s Red Card. A home victory over FC United of Manchester in front of a 4000+ crowd started off a perfect Easter weekend.

April started just as March ended with a 3-1 victory this time away at Hyde United as Danny Lafferty, Kane Drummond and Paul Dawson were on the scoresheet ahead of a trip to Gateshead. It was unfortunately not our day as we fell agonisingly short of a trip to Wembley in extremely windy conditions in the North East, but we can be proud of the journey we went on in the competition. Attention turned back to league action away at Basford United and despite going behind, Michael Clegg’s side come back to secure a play off spot. Victories over Atherton Collieries and Workington helped to secure second spot with two games to go. That then allowed a youthful squad to represent The Silkmen, who did themselves proud despite defeats to Bamber Bridge and Whitby Town.

A home semi final against Worksop Town was confirmed under the Leasing.com Stadium lights. A raucous atmosphere saw Michael Clegg’s side pick up victory by three goals to one thanks to goals from Kane Drummond, Alex Curran and Tunde Owolabi and book their spot in Bank Holiday Monday’s Final. It was a total sell-out as 5300 fans packed into the Leasing.com Stadium as Marine visited for a place in the National League North. It was not the day we all hoped for as a late comeback was not enough as The Mariners secured promotion.

It was not the outcome we were all hoping for, but it was a special season nonetheless with us reaching our best results in the FA Cup and FA Trophy and reaching Play Off Final. We regroup and look to go one step further next season!

 

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