Matthew Barnes-Homer scored twice and created another as Macclesfield avoided the potential banana skin of Evo-Stik Premier side Marine to progress to the FA Cup First Round.
The Silkmen looked a little sluggish at times but Barnes-Homer’s penalty minutes before the break and then second strike just after the hour gave the home side breathing space. However, Marcus Carver gave the Mariners a glimmer of hope five minutes from time but that was expunged with Amari Morgan-Smith’s late header.
Steve King, watching the game from the Directors’ Box following his sending off last week, made two changes to his side which drew with Newport. Pablo Mills came in for injured skipper Nat Brown, and in midfield Anthony McNamee replaced the departed Arnaud Mendy.
The away side forced a number of corners in the opening exchanges and from the first of these on five minutes, Carver reached the ball ahead of Cronin and when the ball came out to Robbie Lawton, his first time effort flew miles over from 25 yards.
Macc’s first opportunity came soon after when McNamee’s low cross from right was controlled by Barnes-Homer, and his weak shot on the turn almost fell for Chris Holroyd but he failed to direct it goalwards.
Leading scorer Barnes-Homer played a good one-two with McNamee on left, only to shoot into side netting from the corner of the area.
On 17 minutes Shaun Dowling cut in from the right inside two Macc players, and fired in a curling effort which was easily held by Cronin.
The Macc full-backs were as always willing to get forward whenever possible, and in the 21 st minute Ryan Jackson charged up the right, before being brought down 25 yards out by John Shaw as the rest of the defence backed off. Holroyd took the free kick and curled it around the wall but a yard wide of the post.
The visitors were still showing some threat of their own and at the other end Nick Rogan managed to win an aerial battle with Pablo Mills, before his effort from a tight angle was deflected behind for another corner. Fowler’s deep delivery came to Rogan again but he failed to get hold of the shot properly and Macc cleared.
On the half hour a long ball forward by Craig Braham-Barrett caused panic in the Marine defence, Danny Grannon failed to hold off Holroyd and the keeper was caught out of position. His poor clearance fell to McNamee who tried to chip into the unguarded net from 30 yards but lacked enough power and Williams was able to get back to collect.
Macc continued to press and Kissock was able to cut in from left to find space to shoot, when he let fly the keeper could only palm away to Barnes-Homer who set up Holroyd but Grannon blocked well for corner.
On 36 minutes Jackson twisted and turned past his man on the right, before arrowing a low shot just the wrong side of the far post from 20 yards.
The Silkmen were awarded a penalty when Kissock again cut infield and left the ball for Holroyd who took a touch onto his right foot and saw his shot blocked by Grannon who lunged in to block. The referee initially gave nothing but the linesman flagged to indicate the offence and rather harsh spot kick.
After minutes of arguing from the Marine defence, Barnes-Homer stepped up to smash his kick right down the middle for his 11th of the campaign.
The Silkmen then had two more chances to double their lead before the break – first when McNamee cleverly spun away from his man and with the rest of defence backing off let fly from 20 yards, forcing a good save from the keeper.
Seconds before the half time whistle Murtagh picked the ball up with only one defender between him and goal slipped it to Barnes-Homer in support, but the Macc striker seemed caught in two minds whether to shoot or go for a return pass and in the end did neither as the ball bounced wide of the far post.
After the break Grannon headed well over from Lawton’s cross from deep on the right before Macc again could have gone two up. With the defence backing off, Holroyd slipped the ball out to Murtagh, who cut the ball back to him in space eight yards out but his shot was well blocked by Dowling, denying a great chance.
An altercation between Carver and Sam Wedgbury on the touchline led to both players being booked, with the Macc midfielder initially fouled and then his reaction sent the Marine player down very easily.
Both sides continued to create half chances – Andy Fowler first having a shot blocked and then smashing into the side netting, and for Macc Barnes-Homer chested down Mills’ raking crossfield ball but lacked the power to test the keeper with his drive.
The Silkmen went two up on 62 minutes when keeper Callum Williams came out to reach a deep cross by Jackson on the right but got nowhere near it. Barnes-Homer couldn’t miss at the far post from just a few yards out for his eighth goal in as many games.
For a spell after the second Macc looked dangerous for more, and squandered a good opportunity when the ball was fed in from the left with Barnes-Homer and McNamee both in space. The winger got there first but scooped well over from 15 yards.
On 70 minutes Lawton played a tremendous diagonal ball over Mills into Carver’s path, but the striker went for the ambitious back post volley and missed ball completely.
The game started to get more stretched as it ticked into the final 15 minutes - Barnes-Homer with two in support presented Holroyd with a chance on the right, and the loanee forward hit a powerful effort which was palmed well away by the keeper. It was to be his last action of the afternoon as Amari Morgan-Smith came on to replace him seconds later.
Striker Carver pulled a goal back with five minutes left when Shaw’s deep cross in from the left found him at the back post to plant a great downwards header past Cronin and into the bottom corner from eight yards.
There was to be no dramatic turnaround though as the Silkmen made the game safe with a minute to go from a well worked break. Murtagh burst past a challenge in midfield, found Barnes-Homer running the channel who beat Grannon for pace and picked out Morgan-Smith perfectly in the centre to head past Williams into the far corner for his first Macc goal.
Not a vintage performance by any means by King’s men but one enough to secure a safe passage through to the First Round. Despite conceding late on the home side also looked stronger at the back than in some recent outings and now await tomorrow’s draw to see who they will face in a fortnight.