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PREVIEW: Luton Town v Macclesfield

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Like plenty of clubs this season, Macclesfield are going into the new campaign with a new manager after appointing former player John Askey back in June, writes Mike Simmonds.

The change came about after Steve King was sacked in April, despite his side sitting eighth in the table, but on a four game winless run and with no real chance of the play-offs

He had taken the Silkmen into the FA Cup fourth round, beating Cardiff and Swindon along the way, before they were only just edged out by Premier League Wigan

It mattered not though as Askey, who had been the club’s youth team boss came in for a second stint in charge, bringing in ex-Town defender Efe Sodje as his assistant.

The 48-year-old didn’t have the best of starts, losing four and winning just one of the final five games of the season, but he was still given the job permanently.

Askey made a host of changes to his squad, releasing the likes of Lance Cronin, Charlie Henry, Amari Morgan-Smith, Enes Fermino, Guy Madjo and Antonio Amores.

Three more departures which will be harder to stomach were former Hatters striker Matthew Barnes-Homer who has been loaned to Forest Green Rovers, while defender Craig Braham-Barrett has moved to Cheltenham Town, also on loan and left back Carl Tremarco signed for Scottish Premier side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Askey has moved to try and strengthen his squad, signing midfielders Danny Whitaker, Danny Rowe and Scott Kay after succesful trials.

Whitaker, 32, departed League Two side Chesterfield earlier this year and returns to the Silkmen seven years after leaving the club, while Rowe was with Barrow and Kay, who spent the 2011-12 campain with the Silkmen, ended last term with Southport.

Goalkeeper Rhys Taylor signed permanently after spending the second half of the season at Moss Rose on a non-contract basis, although Askey has also brought in 21-year-old goalkeeper Ritchie Branagan who was with non-league Salford City.

The club snapped up Danny Andrew, Steve Williams and Paul Turnbull too after they featured heavily in pre-season.

Full-back Andrew, 22, ended last season at Gloucester City, former Bradford centre-back Williams, 26, had a loan spell at Barrow last term, while midfielder Turnbull, 24, was allowed to leave Northampton.

Striker Scott Boden also joined from Chesterfield, with the forward spending time on loan at Macclesfield during 2011-12, but failed to score. while they have also taken forward Connor Jennings on loan from League Two Scunthorpe.

Meanwhile, teenager Josh Green, who captain Macclesfield’s youth team last season, has been awarded his first professional contract

Despite all the changes, the Silkmen remain in a perilous financial situation and it was recently reported they need £100,000 by the end of August to survive.

They recently made a ludicrous attempt to raise cash, with the offer of a £20,000 donation allowing the winner to make a 10-minute appearance for the club.

This was swiftly withdrawn after receiving plenty of criticism and Macclesfield issued an apology for an “error of judgement”.

Earlier this month, Cheshire East Council gave the club £285,000 for the freehold of their Moss Rose ground.

Without those funds, associate director Andy Scott said Macclesfield would have been close to being handed a winding-up order, having ended last season £500,000 in debt.

They recently became a ‘Community Interest Company’ following a restructure of the club too.

On the pitch, the season hasn’t started well for Macc though, as they are pointless and goalless from their opening two games, a 1-0 home defeat to Nuneaton and a 1-0 loss at Lincoln City on Tuesday night.

Team news: Hatters are without defender Anthony Charles as he suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 win over Salisbury and will be out for over a month.

Jon Shaw needs a hernia, but may well play, while Alex Lawless could be on the bench after scoring two against Peterborough reserves in midweek and Ronnie Henry (back) is nearing contention too.

The Silkmen are still expected to be without Paul Turnbull and Efe Sodje as they recover from a strain and a broken hand respectively, whilst Carl Martin continues his rehabilitation following complications surrounding a hernia operation.

Askey confirmed he was looking to bring a new face in before the trip to Kenilworth Road as he said: “We’ve had a couple of knocks, so we will have to assess one or two of the lads before the game to see where we are. Sodje, Turnbull and Martin are all going to miss out, so I’m trying to bring someone in before the game at the weekend.”

Top Skrill scorer - Hatters: Luke Guttridge, Solomon Taiwo (1). Silkmen: No-one.

Man in the middle: Nick Kinseley - Taken two matches so far this term, both ending in 3-0 wins for the home sides, Barnet v Chester and Aldershot v Dartford. Booked six players in the Bees clash, but kept his cards away in the second.

Took Luton’s first game of the season last year, the 2-2 draw against Gateshead and then the 1-1 draw with Forest Green, sending off Alex Lawless and Al Bangura. Meanwhile, he also officiated Hatters’ 3-1 defeat at Woking too.

During the campaign, he had 16 games, showing 55 yellows and 10 reds in total.

The year before, he reffed Hatters’ 1-1 home draw with Forest Green, but Luton have won with Kinseleyin charge, a 5-0 hammering at Kettering, where the hosts had Phil Ifil dismissed.

In charge: John Askey - the 48-year-old is a proper Macclesfield legend having joined back in 1984 alongside his brother Bob to fill a gap when the club were short of players.

He remained as a player throughout the club’s Northern Premier League title win in 1986–87 and subsequent promotion to the Vauxhall Conference. Had a testimonial against Manchester United in 1994 and moved up to full-time football when they won promotion into the league.

Askey made more than 700 apearances for Macclesfield in total, scoring over 150 times, including in his final ever game, back on the last day of the 2002-03 season, with an 88th minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Rochdale.

When Macclesfield Town manager David Moss was sacked in 2003 following a 2–1 home defeat to Southend, the club appointed Askey as his replacement on a temporary basis.

Sevens victories in 27 matches, including a run of one win in 13 saw former Hatter Brian Horton appointed, but Askey stayed as assistant boss and then moved to the youth team, although returned to the hotseat on April 3.

View from the opposition: Boss John Askey: “It’s always a tough game against Luton. Whichever division we’ve played them in in the past, they have always been seen as one of the bigger clubs in the division.

“There will be a big crowd there, but that’s the sort of game you relish really. They are early favourites and got a home win in the week, so will be in good spirits and we need to go there and play to the level we can.”

One to watch: Chris Holroyd. Prolific striker in the earlier stages of his career, scoring 22 goals in 61 league games for Cambridge, before spells at Brighton, Stevenage, Bury and Rotherham.

Joined Preston, but it was back at Macclesfield where he rediscovered his goalscoring touch again, on loan with nine in 21 appearances.

Moved to Morecambe on a free for the final part of last season, but was released and then joined Moss Rose at the start of the campaign.

Friendly faces: Although not given a squad number at Kenilworth Road this season, Arnaud Mendy is still contracted at Town and joined the club from Macclesfield, where he played just under 50 times.

At Moss Rose is John Paul Kissock too, who made 31 appearances for Town, scoring once, though he was subbed during the 1-0 home defeat to Nuneaton and an un-used sub in the 1-0 defeat to Lincoln City.

We’ve got form: Hatters have only ever played Macclesfield four times at home in their history, winning two, drawing one and losing one.

The first meeting was taken by the Silkmen as they won their League Two meeting 2-1 back in 1999, with goals from Neil Sorvel and ex-Hatter Simon Davies, before Gary Doherty pulled one back.

The next game was drawn 0-0, before Luton edged to a 1-0 win, also in League Two, back in 2009, courtesy of Tom Craddock’s penalty.

Last time out: Hatters eased to a 4-1 win over Macclesfield last season. Town were sent on their way when Jake Howells netted in the opening minute, before Andre Gray made it 2-0.

The visitors pulled one back as Nat Brown scored just after half time, before late goals from Scott Rendell and Stuart Fleetwood ensured Hatters triumphed.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (Adam Watkins 73), Dean Beckwith, Janos Kovacs (Connor Essam 89), Jake Howells, Greg Taylor, Alex Lawless, JJ O’Donnell. Scott Rendell, Stuart Fleetwood, Andre Gray (Jake Woolley 89).

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Dan Walker.

Attendance: 5,803.

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