Matthew Barnes-Homer’s tenth goal of the season earned Macclesfield a point after a much improved second half performance against league leaders Newport.
The draw extends Macc’s winless run to six, however they could count themselves unfortunate not to take all three points – with Newport rarely showing why they sit top of the league and the Welsh side second best, carrying little threat after half time.
Steve King made just one change to his side which came from behind to draw at Gateshead, Chris Holroyd returning to the attack to partner Barnes-Homer, with Amari Morgan-Smith dropping to the bench.
Much travelled striker Jefferson Louis had the first chance of the afternoon when a poor clearance fell to him in the box, however he failed to connect properly and Nat Brown was able to easily block.
In the sixth minute Keiran Murtagh found Sam Wedgbury on the right after a strong run from midfield and after Wedgbury’s cross was blocked behind, Barnes-Homer headed well over from Jon Paul Kissock’s corner.
A good pass behind the full back by Murtagh allowed Ryan Jackson space to cross from the right and he picked out Kissock’s late run into the box, but his first time half volley was deflected over.
Tricky midfielder Kissock cut in from the left on 24 minutes to curl his effort off target, as Macc seemed to lack the creativity of a few weeks ago.
Tony James barged into the back of Sam Wedgbury just outside the box when trying to reach a bouncing ball and after a lengthy discussion Barnes-Homer took the free kick but hammered his shot well over the bar.
At the other end Andy Sandell was given space to measure his cross from the left and Jake Thomson crept in front of Brown to glance a header just wide of the far post.
Five minutes before the interval, a long ball forward went over the defence and keeper Lenny Pidgeley rushed out to meet the ball before Barnes-Homer but had to punch it straight back out. Kissock was first to the loose ball, but he failed to take advantage of the keeper being out of position as his chip lacked enough loft and was chested off the line by Yakubu.
Newport were awarded their own free kick just outside the area and Arnaud Mendy booked for his challenge on Max Porter before Michael Flynn blasted the set piece straight into the wall.
The visitors went ahead two minutes before half time when Thomson’s inswinging free kick from the right went past everyone in the centre, and with it on target to creep in at the far post Cronin had to parry. However, the Macc keeper only succeeded in palming it straight out to James who had a simple finish from close range.
The Silkmen went in at the break disappointed to be behind, but it could have been far worse if Newport hadn’t squandered a simple chance in stoppage time. Thomson’s cross from the right had Cronin back peddling and again when he pushed the ball away it dropped to a red shirt – somehow from just six yards Aaron O’Connor shot over when it looked easier to score.
Steve King was sent to the stands for the second period at half time, but despite this his side came out firing and looked much more threatening, dominating possession and territory from the restart.
Craig Braham-Barrett’s dangerous cross from the left went between the keeper and defence but nobody was running in to finish it off. Then minutes later Kissock made enough space for himself to get a shot away but it lacked the power to test Pidgeley.
In the 53rd minute Holroyd wasted a great opportunity when he was put through by Murtagh’s precise pass and after taking a touch placed his low shot a few yards wide.
On the hour Sam Wedgbury’s overhit cross was picked up on the far side by Murtagh, who beat David Pipe and teed up Kissock who smashed his right footed drive at the head of Yakubu, who was then down for a few minutes needing treatment.
Holroyd was denied by a last ditch tackle in the area and Murtagh saw his first time effort well blocked as Macc continued to press for the equaliser and Newport failed to even get out of their half.
Barnes-Homer was found at the far post by Braham-Barrett and with the keeper out of position Sandell was perfectly placed to block on the line to deny the Macc striker. Seconds later the ball came back across to Braham-Barrett and his curling attempt was tipped over by Pidgeley’s finger tips as Macc frustrations grew.
Jackson collected the ball on the right wing after Barnes-Homer had done well to hold it up, before he was able to cut the ball back to the waiting Wedgbury who drew another good save from the keeper with his low effort from around 15 yards.
A rare Newport break saw O’Connor run at the home defence and he was able to find Louis in space, with the striker denied by Cronin’s legs.
All the second half pressure finally paid off for the Silkmen eight minutes from time when Murtagh’s deep cross from the left was met at the back post by Barnes-Homer, who pulled away from his marker and planted a powerful header into the top corner for his sixth goal in the last seven games.
Despite Newport defending on the edge of their area for the last half hour, a Macc winner wasn’t to happen and the final real effort of the game came at the other end. Sandell somehow managed to evade two men out on the left touchline and when he fed the ball inside O’Connor’s 20 yard effort was parried by Cronin and gathered at the second attempt.
A draw against the league leaders shouldn’t be seen as a poor point, however King’s men will be disappointed not to have capitalised on their second half superiority even though they only managed to level with eight minutes left.