Step 20… Macclesfield Town v Cardiff City (FACup #9)

We’re back! Happy new year to one and all, well apart from Mario Balotelli that is! We were all set for the shortest of trips to the home of the champions for our first game of the New Year until the news broke that Balotelli had been involved in some sort of training ground bust up with City boss Roberto Mancini in the build up to the game. Photo’s & rumours hit the media and social networks big time and any chance we had of being guests at the Etihad went out of the window as the 3rd round cup tie with Watford immediately sold out! Why Always Us??? lol lol

Fortunately we had a backup plan :-) well we had a couple to be honest, but the first on the list was Macclesfield Town’s potential ‘Giant Killing’ game with Championship table-toppers Cardiff City which will probably more likely be a Cardiff goal-fest but at least we had a 3rd round tie we could go to keeping our FA 34 on track.

£4.35 day return to Macc. And as the train pulled out of Piccadilly station on our 20 mile journey we could see the Etihad in the distance which is only a 20 minute walk from the Rhino’s front door! And I can still honestly say i have seen more concerts at the Etihad than football matches which is mad considering the amount of football games i go to.

The train tickets clearly stated ‘any Virgin service’ so when the guard came along checking everybody’s tickets he was quick to point out that we were on a Cross Country train! “you needed to catch a red train, this is a purple one” he told me handing my ticket back to me. i was torn between excuses, should i explain to him about being colour blind (which is a difficult thing to explain) or should i just point at the Rhino sat across the aisle and blame him for putting us on the wrong train? I went for the latter :-)

The big fella then opted for the ‘keep him talking until we get to Macc. In 5 minutes’ solution but there was no need as the guard was sympathetic towards us asking if the last minute platform alteration back in Piccadilly had added to our confusion? “yeah… YEAH, that’s it… it’s the platform change!!” with that the train pulled in at Macc. Station and me & the big fella got off rapid before we were charged again!

It’s only about a mile from the station to Moss Rose so we arrived at the ground in plenty of time. Tickets were available at £14 for standing or you could buy seats for £18 each so we went for seats for our first game back after the break. :-)

As the big fella went to the ticket window i was approached by one of the Hi-Vis brigade who wanted to know if we were home or away fans? I told him we were neutrals and wanted seats close to the halfway line if possible, i then noticed the price list had a reduced price for ‘concessions’ “is there any price reductions for disabled?” i asked as the Rhino returned with tickets in hand, “coz i’ve got a leg missing” the bloke looked me up & down and then amazingly said “no, that’s not enough!”

I set of laughing as the shock of only having one leg missing isn’t disabled enough and the big fella stepped in on my behalf “wow that’s a bit harsh mate, i’ll take him home and chop all his other limbs off & bring him back next week in a carrier bag! Will that help?” we set off walking round to the far side of the ground and the same Hi-Vis stopped us again “if you’ve bought seats for the halfway line you need to go through this door, it’s all standing on the far side” the Rhino checked the tickets and told the guy there is a rather large seating block on the far side as he had just been looking at the plan of the ground with the girl in the ticket office? A puzzled looking Hi-Vis then said “well yeah, there is seating round there but…” the big fella didn’t let him finish… “look mate, you’ve obviously just borrowed that coat off someone & don’t really work here, there’s a lot of police down that end so if i was you i would stay away from them because they have them cameras that recognise trouble makers” lol lol CLASS! :-)

We got to the far side of the ground just as the Cardiff team coach arrived, i felt this was just the opportunity i needed to do my impression of a teenage girl at a 1D concert and was ready to jump & scream at the sight of the star players and thrust my programme & pen at them for an autograph, but as i watched each face step down from the coach i didn’t recognise any of them! Where was Bellamy, Helguson or Whittingham? I did spot gaffer Malky Mackay but he’s hardly the knicker-wetting superstar i was expecting.

We went inside and took our seats in the huge seating block behind the dugouts. The travelling supporters were to our right in the open air stand and the place was filling up nicely. Macc were 4/1 for any win with the bookies today & i was toying with the idea of having a cheeky fiver on them linked to a few home bankers to bump the price up but i just couldn’t bring myself to do it in the end thinking Mackay must have done his homework & put out a good enough team to see off his non league opposition today.

We’re off! A great crowd of 3,100+ were all in fine voice as Mr. Madley blew for Cardiff to get us underway and within 2 minutes they had the ball in the back of Lance Cronin’s net! A high ball into the area seen Etien Velikonja head the ball down for Nat Jarvis to finish off but the liner was already flagging for offside and i now convinced myself that i had saved a fiver with the bookies :-)

The home side settled after the early scare and were more than holding their own against a City team who were 7 points clear at the top of the Championship and just the odd 81 places above them in the pyramid! Charlie Henry’s powerful drive was on target but straight at City keeper Joe Lewis on 20 minutes and Keiran Murtagh put his first time effort just wide from range moments later, maybe i should of backed them after all? They were the better team as the half hour came up.

The Silkmen were dominating the midfield but not really creating chances, too many times the home side looked to play the ball over the top which was quickly dealt with by the City back four who were all easily six-footers. City were playing their part by hitting on the break as well as playing through the middle with some great passing but again no real threat in the final 3rd

The home support sensed an upset was on the cards and vocally did their best to be the 12th man as well as turning the game into an international match now & again with England songs as well. The game needed a goal and it almost came on 35 minutes, Pablo Mills sent his free kick from the halfway line towards the area, Nat Brown flicked it on and Charlie Henry but he scuffed his shot from 6 yards out into the side netting.

The visitors turned up the heat as the first 45 came to an end with a couple of chances in quick succession. Declan John powered his way down the left then cut inside the sliding defence to shoot from just inside the area, Cornin was equal to it and got down quickly to push it round his near post & away to safety. The resulting corner was whipped in and Ben Nugent’s header was on target but once again Cronin was on his toes diving to his right to gather the ball.

Macc players & fans alike were screaming for a penalty in stoppage time when Sam Wedgbury went to ground as he charged into the City area with the ball at his feet, the Ref saw nothing wrong with the challenge but was booed off the pitch moments later when he brought the first half to an end by the home faithful who felt he had given them nothing all day! HT. 0-0.

Rhino – i make my way to the corner flag bar for today’s half time offerings which is just near the corner flag surprise-surprise. Inside there is only room for 150 people and this is sorted out before kickoff, basically if you go in the bar before the game and tell the staff you intend to come back at half time you are issued with a ticket & it’s first come, first served until 150 are given out. Fortunately i got this information from a real Hi-Vis chap who got a ticket for me earlier. Ya see, not just thrown together this shit ya know lol.

I ordered a Beef pie from the choice of 3 on offer as i’ve not had one before and I was a little disappointed if i’m honest, the pastry was hard & had way too much gelatine all over it, the meat didn’t really taste like beef & was dry. Overall, I got the impression this wasn’t the first time this particular specimen had been up for sale and i didn’t finish it all. The Bovril was made with granules but the cup seemed smaller than the many others i have bought over the years. A very poor 4.8 from me.

Mel B. – First of all Happy New Year to everyone foolish enough to read this drivel from me & my BAPS! secondly, what a poor show from Macclesfield a very disappointing opening to the new year! No wonder the lad selling them didn’t want his picture taken but i got a sneaky one of him just for you x

£2.20 for a pie & £1.70 for Bovril isn’t such a bad price but it doesn’t matter how much you sell for so long as your products are right. Beef pies are tricky to keep warm without going dry and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remove them completely and go with something a bit more traditional or even exotic and get in touch with Dean at Real Thai Pies! 4.6 from me giving a total of only 9.4  and the Pundit quote (Gary Neville on Liverpool FC) is.. used to be so much better years ago!

The game restarted with more of the same end-to-end action, Amari Morgan-Smith’s effort was deflected just over the bar by Nugent to deny Macc from taking the lead in the opening 5 minutes and at the other end Cardiff looked like taking the lead when Velikonja seemed certain to score only for a brilliant last-ditch tackle from Mills.

The opening goal came in the 57th minute, Velikonja burst down the left flank into the opposition half and some slick passing through midfield resulted in a ball being played into Declan John, he just managed to keep the ball in play on the by-line then squared it across the goal to Nat Jarvis who somehow managed to squeeze it in under Lance Cronin. 0-1.

The goal meant the away fans voices could now be heard and I have to say going a goal behind didn’t deter the home fans at all, if anything it made them get behind their team even more! Could do with a few like that down the road at Stockport County ;-)

On the pitch Macc were wobbling a little and if it wasn’t for a fantastic one-handed save from Cronin to deny Stephen McPhail’s thunderbolt from the edge of the area i think the home side would of collapsed if they would of conceded another as we reached the hour mark.

Macc dragged themselves back into the game and were looking for the equaliser. They forced a corner but all other chances were coming from distance. The class of Cardiff was slowly starting to appear and the chances were too. A powerful shot from Filip Kiss cannoned off Nat Brown and landed at the feet of Declan John but his effort safely found its way into the arms of Cronin.

With just over 10 minutes left there was a moment of madness for Lance Cronin. As he came for the ball near the right touchline, Velikonja dispossessed him. and his snapshot went inches wide of the far post. This was the cue for the home side to go for it!. First came an effort from top scorer Matthew Barnes-Homer, though his shot found the side netting. They then had a number of runs into the area but the Cardiff defence were dogged.

Macc then had a big penalty shout turned down when Craig Braham-Barrett dribbled through the City defence and went to ground. Not for the first time in the game the Ref signalled play on. The home side continued to throw men forward with the minutes ticking away. The ball was worked down the right flank and Jack Mackreth played a superb cross towards the back post over the keeper and landed at the feet of Matthew Barnes Homer who placed the ball safely home! 1-1.

A huge party had now erupted around Moss Rose and everyone was on their feet dancing & singing songs that invited the visiting supporters to use the red dragon from the Welsh flag as some sort of suppository!

Macclesfield did not seem happy with the prospects of a replay and once again continued to push forward. With just 5 minutes left on the clock they were awarded a free kick in the Cardiff half. Pablo Mills played a lofted ball into the area, and as the ball came over the Ref blew his whistle & pointed to the spot! He had spotted a handball by Nat Jarvis and awarded Macc a penalty!

BOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!!! No sign of nerves from Barnes-Homer as he smashed in his & Macclesfield’s second of the day sending (almost) everyone inside the ground into ecstasy & Macc into the 4th round draw! I didn’t get to see what happened in the closing minutes or in 5 minutes time added on because of the sheer pandemonium that me & the big fella were witnessing but Macc held on for a massive & famous victory. I’m sure the Cardiff faithful will play it down saying they only put their second or even third best team out on the day but that just goes to show you should never take the FA Cup lightly and days like these are what it’s all about. Well done Silkmen, well done indeed! FT 2-1.

We left the ground in search of a bus to take us back to the station so we could get a quick pint before the train at 6.40, as we waited at the bus stop all the street vendors passed us with empty trolleys having sold out of everything and i wanted a half-&-half scarf as a souvenir of the day. The Rhino took a photo of his ticket propped up against a pint when we got to the pub and asked me if that would do instead? lol i’ll just pin the actual ticket up on my desk at home thanks ;-)

While we was in the pub next to the train station and just as Man United had taken the lead at West Ham, a small group of Watford fans walked in! How mad is that? even more weird was that a scouse bloke went over to talk to them as he was writing some sort of FA Cup book and asked them about the game at the Etihad, it’s just crazy! These FA writers & bloggers get everywhere! He caught the same train back to Manchester with us & we told him all about our FA Cup journey from last season and i’m not sure if it inspired him or put him off lol still waiting for his email so it’s probably the latter :-)

Back in Piccadilly for 7ish and only waited about 10 minutes for a bus to the Sweaty Spaniard and the beer was on the bar for about 7.45… Job Done! although it will be a bit later next week as we’re hoping the pitch at Gateshead will finally drain the water that’s on it and their Trophy game with Barrow can go ahead!

A massive well done once again to Macclesfield for today’s result keeping the non league flag flying in the best competition in the world and i’m sure the £67,500 prize for today’s win will come in very handy but if you need any help spending it just give us a call :-)

Until then Blog Buds……….

Today’s Stats….

Travel Cost each – £4.35 Train + £1.80 Bus = £6.15

Admission each – £18

Mileage covered – 40.8

Total Travel Cost – £112.45

Total Admission – £102.00

Total Mileage – 1,209.4

Total Goals Seen – 82

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