Wilkerson The Saving Grace For Rebels

Macclesfield Town

Macclesfield Town

Wood (6), Power (23)
Slough Town

Slough Town

League Attendance: 1013 Paul Wilkerson
Rebels keeper Paul Wilkerson put up a brave performance at the Moss Rose Ground to keep the difference between championship contenders Macclesfield and the Rebels looking more like a gulf than an ocean.

Victory for the Silkmen, who have just recruited striker Richard Landon from Stockport County and promising midfielder Chris Byrne from Droylsden, moved them into second place following Stevenage's 2-2 draw with league leaders Kidderminster.

The Rebels went behind after six minutes to a Steve Wood goal and fell further in arrears in the 23rd when Phil Power found a way through from the half way line. Only some fine work between the posts by Wilkerson, especially in the first half, prevented the threatened rout by last year's Trophy winners and former champions.

Manager Brian McDermott has made no significant attempt to find a replacement for top striker Mark West who underwent surgery for a cruciate ligament injury on Monday. The available Dover and ex-Famborough striker David Leworthy - who wants to move nearer home - did figure briefly in McDermott's thinking. But Leworthy was snapped up last week by Rushden & Diamonds and joined ex-Rebel Simon Stapleton, also making his debut, on the scoreline in the Northamptonshire side's 2-2 draw at Farnborough.

The Rebels concluded what is theoretically the toughest section of their campaign - matches against Woking, Stevenage (twice) and Macclesfield at home during the past seven weeks - in poor shape. McDermott opted for a 4-4-2 formation from the start with Mike Murphy (one goal in 12 outings) and Danny Bolt (three from 23 - two penalties) leading the attack.

Additionally the reliable Rob Smith was missing from the the back four for half the game after taking a knock at Dorchester on Tuesday. Smith was one of three half time substitutions, out-of-favour striker Gary Abbott and midfielder Mark Pye also coming into the game in a three man switch.

McDermott, probably not wishing to approach the second replay with Dorchester in the first round of the FA Trophy on the back of a drubbing, also reverted to a 5-3-2 shape. Things could hardly have got worse for the Rebels who, in their defence, have not enjoyed the sort of squad stability that marks out winners from also rans at any level of soccer. Macclesfield went ahead when Andy Clement lost possession near the touchline and Wood was presented with a simple tap-in from the whipped cross which followed.

Another mistake saw Power celebrate his return from suspension by picking up the ball on halfway and force his way through into the box before giving Wilkerson no chance with a low shot into the corner. Central defenders Cliff Hercules and Rob Smith were, as usual, the men who stood out for Slough during the second half and the pair provided the sort of insurance necessary to ensure no more damage was inflicted.

Under the circumstances - with Slough stuck in the doldrums sigh form - a point might have been an acceptable target against Sammy Mcllroy's men. As it was, the encounter served to underline the ground Slough still have to cover before they can expect to travel in expectation rather than hope.

Macclesfield Town Lineup

Price, Tinson, Gardiner, Payne, Howarth, Sorvel, Askey, Wood, Landon, Power, Byrne


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