Sunday, 26 October 2014

Below Average SPORTBLOG #5 - Silkmen and Coyotes

The good thing with writing a column for Peter's B.A.S.C ( Below Average Sport Cast) is it allows me to concentrate on something other than the Manchester Phoenix. I do love the Phoenix, hell...I’ve been a season ticket holder throughout the Phoenix existence! The BASC allows me to indulge a little in my other two sports teams, Macclesfield Town in the amazingly named, Vanorama Conference and my beloved Arizona Coyotes. 

This column is written about a month after my first attempt so we are well into the Conference season and the NHL has finally swung into action. 

The Silkmen March on! 

So a month down the line and the Silkmen have continued their good start to the conference season, since my last posting, as they have played another 8 games and still only recorded 3 losses. That is quite an incredible bit of form for Macc, given the fans (and my own) pre-season predictions of a year of struggle. The Silkmen have registered 28pts from their 17 games so far and currently sit in 7th place just below Bristol Rovers, amazingly just 2 pts outside of a playoff place, which is currently held by Forest Green Rovers and I really don't think you would have found any Macc Town fan that would have predicted that at the start of the season. A huge part of the season so far for the Silkmen, has been their form at the Moss Rose and currently they are yet to lose a home game and remain one of three teams yet to lose on home turf. Stand-out players so far have been Luke Waterfall who is on loan from Scunthorpe United in defence, and who has been rock solid at the back playing all but one game so far. Wade Fairhurst is the other player catching the eye so far, as since returning to the Silkmen he has scored four goals so far. 

With Phoenix being my first love, I do not have much spare sporting ££'s free, so I pick and choose my Macc Town games and last Saturday was the first Silkmen game of the season that I managed to get to. In truth, it was quite a spur of the moment thing, but I went to the Moss Rose, to take in Macclesfield Town v Dover from the Brewtique stand (editorial note: Fancy name). The two clubs had only played each other about a month ago, before the usual return fixture where your games versus one opponent are done and dusted, but it rare to face opposition home and way, so early in the season. That game down by the White Cliffs finished 1-0 to the Silkmen, thanks to a 77th minute goal from Chris Holroyd.
So going into the game the Silkmen were fancied for the win and would want to keep their fine home form going. Macc managed to control most of the game, creating quite a few near chances but not too many guilt edged chances. Rhys Taylor did not have a huge amount to do in the half really. Into the second half where Macc would attack their own fans in the Brewtique stand and had them up their game in search of a goal.  That goal then came, after some great play to release Holroyd down the right flank, as speeded towards the box before he put in a great cross which evaded most players on both sides, but Paul Lewis was in space on the six yard line and calmly slotted the ball into the near corner. As Dover searched for an equaliser in the game, it became quite open but the Silkmen held on for another 1-0 victory and their second against Dover this season and saw Macc continuing their unbeaten run at the Moss Rose. 

The standout player for me and someone who rightly got the MOM was Adriano Moke, a tricky little winger with great speed and good ball control. Moke was the source of much creativity and attacking for Macc Town and is a player who could be key for the Silkmen this season if he is able to stay fit.
Next up for the Silkmen, is a home FA Cup tie at the Moss Rose against Wrexham. This should be a good `un, as the FA Cup has been kind to the Silkmen in recent years. Great cup runs have helped fill the Moss Rose and injected much needed ££'s into club coffers too. I'll be there this Friday (24th Oct) in the Brewtique stand. It'll be a tough game and a game that could threaten the home record, as both clubs know how important cup runs are at this level, so fingers crossed it will be a Good Friday night under the lights at the Moss! 

Mixed fortunes for the Coyotes 

The NHL season is off and running, with fans across the UK getting used to late nights once more in order to catch their teams in action. As of writing this, the Coyotes have opened the season with a 4 game home stand at the Gila Arena, against the Jets/Kings/Oilers and Blues. It`s been a frustratingly inconsistent start for the Coyotes, made all the more frustrating by being in the Pacific division which is a super competitive division in the Western Conference. I said on the last B.A.S.C podcast that, although a season is not made or broken in October, a poor start can leave you behind the 8-ball for most of the season and on reflection, a 2 and 2 start when you face both the current Stanley Cup champions and the St Louis Blues, could be considered an OK start. Though i`d have wanted to make more of the home stand though and get a few good wins under the belt to start with. 

The season got underway against the Winnipeg Jets and after a summer of build up to opening night, it was quite the let down. Poor team D (seems a regular thing for my teams who play on ice!) and poor goaltending, led the Jet's hammering the Coyotes 6-2. When your goalie admits to being 'not comfortable' on the ice, you know your team is struggling. Opening night was a downer too, with the following Saturday night facing the Stanley Cup winners the LA King's and would have to be better. With Dubnyk starting in goal for the first time, the Coyotes got up for the visit of the Kings and secured a 3-2 OT win over the Champions. It was a great win against an excellent team and one who could retain the cup this year. Midweek the Oilers rolled into Glendale, still searching for their first win and after Saturday`s win against the Kings, the Coyotes mostly clicked against Edmonton and got a big 7-4 victory on a night, where the offence clicked and the defence was there or thereabouts! So, off the back of two wins, the Coyotes faced the Blues last weekend and........were hammered 6-1. Smith struggled all night, but the loss can't be hung totally on him as according to Dave Tippett (Coyotes Coach) too many players were below their best and If that happens in the NHL, let alone the western conference, you will lose 99 games in 100 playing like that!  So a 50% win rate off the opening home stand and a case of should have been better, but could have been much worse. The Coyotes now head off on the road to face Nashville and Minnesota, before returning home to take on the struggling Florida Panthers. 

So that's it for now, we will speak again in a month and where hopefully the Silkmen will have started another FA Cup run and the Coyotes will be putting together a good run of form. Fingers crossed!


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