Sol Campbell will deem an afternoon stood out in horrendous conditions well worthwhile after securing his first victory in charge of Macclesfield.
On a bitterly cold, damp and windy day at the Moss Rose, Elliott Durrell’s first league goal and a late Harry Smith header secured a 2-0 win, and provided good reason to crack open the Sol beers stocked in the club bar especially for the occasion.
After Durrell struck in the 32nd minute, a half-time floodlight failure briefly threatened the call an early halt to proceedings but when play resumed 15 minutes late Macclesfield survived a testing second half before Smith’s late goal made sure of three precious points in the battle for survival.
A crowd of 1,362 braved the conditions, and all but the 63 visitors would been warmed by a performance which suggested there will be brighter days ahead as they moved to within four points of safety.
Campbell might have been forgiven for rethinking his eagerness to get into management at any level as the ex-England defender shivered through the match, with a howling wind blowing freezing rain sideways across the ground all afternoon.
That wind would have a huge impact on the game. Amid a slow start it provided the first action when an advertisement hoarding was ripped from its mounting and blew off to the side of the pitch.
But it was firmly behind Macclesfield in the first half and they used it to keep the pressure on, with Crawley unable to clear their lines.
Michael Rose’s free-kick was picked up by the wind and, after just eluding Smith, brought a diving save from Glenn Morris.
From the resulting corner Ryan Lloyd’s shot was blocked before Ben Stephens’ effort span wide.
Campbell’s side were playing some neat stuff. Fiacre Kelleher’s downward header bounced back up and over while Smith forced another save from Morris with a toe poke after being played in by Stephens.
The goal came in the 32nd minute. A bouncing ball came to Durrell and the midfielder lashed home a volley, wind assisted of course.
Crawley sought a quick response but Dominic Poleon fired into the side-netting under pressure.
It set up a frantic period with chances at either end. Danny Whitaker’s shot was deflected wide for Macclesfield while Luke Gambin missed a glorious chance for the visitors, heading wide at the far post.
The Silkmen’s failure to add a second would set up a nervy second half as the wind which helped them for the first 45 minutes became a hazard.
As if to demonstrate its influence, almost straight from the restart Crawley won a corner, from which Whitaker almost headed into his own net.
It was the start of sustained pressure from the visitors. Panutche Camara flashed a low ball across the face of goal. Then, when Kelleher failed to cut out a cross, Reece Grego-Cox fired just wide from the back post.
When Gambin cut inside off the right post on the hour mark, Kieran O’Hara had to stretch to turn it over.
Durrell remained Macclesfield’s brightest spark, but after launching a swift counter to win a corner he slipped over the advertisement hoardings and needed lengthy treatment.
Crawley continued to keep Macclesfield pegged back but could not carve out clear opportunities, and they were punished six minutes from time when Smith’s header found the net and secured Campbell’s first win in management.