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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Slow-starting Macclesfield's wait for first league win under Mark Yates goes on

Macc attack blunted by Stevenage

Macclesfield manager Mark Yates
1 of 1

Sky Bet League Two

Stevenage 1 Macclesfield 0
Newton 41

This summer saw Paul Hurst join Ipswich from Shrewsbury, who then appointed John Askey from National League winners Macclesfield, who in turn selected Mark Yates and it is a managerial merry-go-round which has left all the coaches on the carousel feeling sick.

Ipswich are 23rd in the Sky Bet Championship; Shrewsbury are 22nd in League One and Macclesfield are 23rd in League Two. None of the teams have won a league match under their new bosses and Yates cut a frustrated figure during Macc's 1-0 defeat at Stevenage.

Yates had bemoaned a sloppy start in last week's 3-0 loss at Crewe - Macc were two down at the break - and said afterwards: "I don't want to keep having to change it at half-time."

But that is exactly what happened as Danny Newton's first-half header settled a poor clash.

The Silkmen, using a back three, rarely threatened in the opening period but a half-time switch to a four-man defence saw Macclesfield get a grip on the contest and they were unfortunate not to leave the Lamex Stadium with a point after a much-improved second-half show.

Macclesfield failed to convert a couple of openings from a goalmouth scramble, substitute Tyrone Marsh just missed knocking the ball past on-rushing goalkeeper Paul Farman, Keith Lowe should have done better with a header at the far post and Danny Whittaker's fizzing volley was superbly blocked by brave Ben Nugent at the death.

On that second 45 minutes there is hope for Macclesfield, particularly as they possessed the outstanding player of the game in Malachi Napa, the diminutive on-loan Oxford trickster who carried a major threat when used in a slightly deeper position than his starting role as a striker alongside Nathan Blissett, nephew of Luther.

Napa looked better suited to playing wide and then came off the flank in behind twin-tower forwards Blissett and Harry Smith. If Macc are to have a successful campaign on their return to the Football League - and staying up should be within their compass - 19-year-old Napa is likely to become increasingly important. 

Macclesfield are decent in midfield where Michael Rose and the evergreen Danny Whitaker are capable of dictating play, although improvement is needed in both boxes.

There is a lack of aggression at the back, which may help to explain why 14 goals have been conceded, and a more subtle approach could be needed in the final third as Blissett and does not look a natural partnership.

The opposition

Apart from the win there was little Stevenage could take from this game and some supporters were complaining it was only a marginal improvement from last week's 1-0 defeat at home to Cambridge.

That should be of concern as club captain Ronnie Henry used his programme notes to apologise for that show against Cambridge and in the same organ chairman Phil Wallace wrote: "The first half was as bad as I have seen here for a long time and a big disappointment. The fact that Cambridge were not much better made for one of those games you hope you do not see again."

There is plenty of goodwill towards imposing manager Dino Maaria, a former Stevenage player with muscles the size of Harry Maguire's head, but his newly-assembled side are not close to gelling yet.

It will also not have been lost on the club that as they struggled for inspiration that their former star striker Matt Godden scored twice in highflying Peterborough's victory at Southend in League One.

Target-man Alex Revell fell over with the goal gaping in the first half, while he also had an effort cleared off the line and Michael Timlin's effort flashed just wide before Nugent's goal, so Stevenage deserved their first-half advantage against tepid opponents.

Inverted winger Ben Kennedy provided most moments of excitement, however he had long since disappeared from the game before being hooked as Boro invited late pressure.

Centre-backs Nugent and Scott Cuthbert are the type of physical defenders needed for this level and from that point of view it is easy to see why Stevenage's last five league games have produced only five goals.

There is a lack of fluency in the final third and on this evidence Stevenage may not improve on last season's bottom-half finish, which would be a disappointment as the club are running on a bigger budget than in that 16th-place effort. 

Stevenage 4-3-3: Farman; Wildin, Cuthbert, Nugent, Seddon; Timlin (Iontton 60), Byrom, Ball; Kennedy (Sonupe 76), Revell, Newton (Guthrie 78).

Macclesfield 3-4-1-2: Taylor; Pearson (Kelleher 68), Lowe, Grimes; Welch-Hayes (Smith h-t), Whitaker, Rose, Fitzpatrick; Vincenti (Marsh 72); Napa, Blissett.

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It is a managerial merry-go-round which has left all the coaches on the carousel feeling sick
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