Date: 8th March 2011 at 2:31pm
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It’s a trip to Macclesfield tonight where the Alex hope to build on Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing of Burton Albion.

Having ended a run of six games without a win, there’s now a matter of ending a run of six straight defeats on the road. Our last away win, or even point, coming back at the start of the year with the fantastic 1-0 win over Shrewsbury.

It is also do or die for the Railwaymen. Anything other than a win could kill off our play-off dreams for good and with three tough games, Chesterfield, Oxford and Southend, coming up, a defeat tonight would make it almost impossible to bridge the gap to the top 7.

Many are seeing tonight as one that should be straightforward. A depleted Macclesfield currently sit 21st in the league and come into the game on the back of just two wins in 15 games.

But they’ve had an almost unbelievable past twelve months which no other football club could even begin to get their head around at the moment.

It was a year last week that manager Keith Alexander died suddenly at the age of 53, the loss of one of the most respected managers in the lower leagues shook both Macclesfield and the footballing world.

Still grieving for Alexander, Macclesfield faced more tragedy when defender Richard Butcher died in his sleep at the age of 29 in January. Butcher was the last Macc Town employee to have spoken to Keith Alexander.

Such stories put tonight’s match into insignificance but, whilst we’ll be roaring on for three Crewe Alex points tonight, let’s hope Macc remain a Football League club come the end of the season in honour of ‘Big Keith’ and Butcher.

Vital Quotes:

Dario Gradi

‘Macclesfield will be a different test for us than Burton were.’

‘If we’re 3-0 up in 20 minutes again I’ll be delighted. But you can’t expect that in every game and, in fact, I expect to have a hard game wherever we go. I’m convinced we’ve not played much differently than we did during our poor run in February.

‘Saturday’s win will give us great confidence and was much needed’

Gary Simpson:

‘We need to get enough points between now and the end of the season to ensure we are playing League Two football next year.

‘Crewe are first up and in Donaldson and Miller they have one of the most potent front pairing in this league. And Dario also has other attacking options which is why they’ve scored more goals than most teams.

‘By contrast, of the four strikers on our books, only Tyrone is available for selection this evening. So we know its going to be tough. But the spirit in the squad is spot on and what cannot be questioned is their commitment. They are an honest bunch of lads that continue to work their socks off.’

Macclesfield Team News:

The Macclesfield squad has been ravaged by injury and suspension.

The 22 man brawl with Wycombe a couple of weeks ago sees first choice strikers Ricky Sappleton and Emile Sinclair suspended for the game.

Fellow striker Vinny Mukendi is also out through injury, leaving Macc with just Tyrone Barnett as their only available striker tonight.

Likely team: Veiga, Brown, Morgan, Diagne, Bolland, Reid, Bencherif , Daniel, Gray, Hamshaw, Barnett

Player to watch: Colin Daniel

Daniel left the Alex back in July 2009 and he’s looked hot property against us ever since. He netted a stunner in the 4-1 defeat at Christmas 2009, could do without anymore of those.

Crewe Alexandra Team News:

Assuming there are no late cry-offs, Dario will name the same team that thrashed Burton.

Matt Tootle and Mat Mitchel-King remain absentees so Pat Ada will continue at right back and Adam Dugdale will continue at centre back.

There will be a recall to the bench however for youngsters Nick Powell and Antoni Sarcevic. The pair were dropped back in the Crewe Under-18s on Saturday to get some much needed match practice.

Likely team: Taylor, Ada, Artell, Dugdale, Blanchett, Murphy, Westwood, Bell, Moore, Donaldson, Miller.

Player to watch: Clayton Donaldson

Making him player to watch at the weekend saw him get a hat-trick. A similar return would be most welcome.

Match Facts & Stats

Crewe have never won at Macclesfield in the league whilst Macclesfield have never won at Gresty Road.

However, we do have the edge after winning at Moss Rose 4-2 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in October.

The record between the two clubs stands at one win to Macclesfield, four to Crewe with just the one draw in history.

Ref Watch:

Assistants: D Handley and A C Newell
Fourth Official: R Bartlett

Match Prediction:

Macclesfield 2-4 Crewe

Next Fixtures:

League leaders Chesterfield visit Gresty Road this Saturday.