The Silkmen left Gresty Road empty handed this afternoon, going down to a late goal as Crewe ran out 2-1 winners in the Cheshire derby.
An evenly balanced game played in the competitive spirit of a local derby was ultimately won and lost in the 85th minute as Joel Grant beat Jose Veiga with a clinical finish from inside the box to secure the points for the home team.
The result was a little harsh on Keith Alexander's team who had more than matched their opponents having gone behind early on and for long periods of the second half looked the more likely to make the breakthrough.
The Silkmen were a little slow out of the blocks at the start of the game and it was no surprise when Crewe took the lead in the 12th minute. The goal coming from a set piece as a free kick on the right was whipped in to the near post to find Calvin Zola in space. The tall striker made no mistake, beating Jose Veiga who had kept his place in the side ahead of Jon Brain, with a downward header.
It was reward for a bright start from the home side in front of a crowd of 4151.
Having struggled when going behind last season Keith Alexander would have been pleased with the reaction as the Silkmen fought their way back into the game. On 15 minutes Carl Tremarco got to the line and his half-cleared cross fell to Daniel in space but the ex-Crewe winger failed to test the keeper.
Macc were now taking the game to Alex and on 26 minutes a good passing move found Junior in the box. The winger pulled the ball back to Hamza on the edge of the area but his shot was a fraction high.
The Silkmen didn't have to wait long for parity to be restored and it was loan signing Ricky Sappleton who grabbed his first senior goal since joining Macc on loan. The young striker showed good pace to be first to a perfectly weighted through ball from Ross Draper and great awareness as, with Button advancing, he cooly rolled the ball into the empty net from the corner of the area. It was no more than the Silkmen deserved and was a just reward for the teenage front man who was leading the line well.
The Silkmen were now on top at very nearly took the lead in the 38th minute when Draper forced a great save from Button with a header from a Tremarco corner. Gaining in confidence Macc went into the break on level terms and carried this momentum into the early second half exchanges.
Alex were also creating chances in an entertaining game. First Joel Grant brought the best out of Veiga with a curling shot then Zola nodded the ball down in the box but Elding's shot was well saved by the Portuguese keeper.
But Macc's competitive style was making it difficult for Alex to play with any real flow to their game and the home fans were getting increasingly agitated. And their mood would have been worse had Emile Sinclair not wasted a glorious chance as the game entered its final stages.
On 75 minutes Sappleton put the second half substitute was through one on one but his weak finish was easily collected by Button.
The game was now stretched as both teams strove for the breakthrough but it was the Silkmen who were left to dream of what might have been as Grant's classy finish won the game for the home team.
It was another good performance from Keith's new squad but once again the Silkmen came up just short against a team that will surely figure in the promotion race come the end of the season.