Macclesfield Town fought hard on their travels to Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium, however their effort wasn’t rewarded as the Spitfires claimed a 1-0 victory.
Both sides gave 100% commitment in the back-and-forth affair, none more so than the Silkmen keeper, Ritchie Branagan, who stepped in for the injured Shwan Jalal and provided a man of the match performance.
However, Branagan was left helpless as Ross Lafayette met a cross at the near post to break the deadlock. Despite Macc’s best efforts, they were unable to cut out a chance for an equaliser.
Neither side was able to grab an early foothold in the game, but after five minutes it was Eastleigh who produced the first chance. Neill Byrne was caught in possession by James Constable, however he was unable to make the most of the opportunity and Paul Turnbull cleared for a corner.
The Macclesfield keeper was kept on his toes following the first chance, Dan Hardings pass found Constable, but his shot ricocheted off Branagan, onto the woodwork and out for another corner.
It took 16 minutes for the travelling Silkmen to create any action in the opposition's half. Andy Halls lofted a free kick into the box and the ball fell into Paul Lewis’ path, but before he could fire off a shot, Paul Reid appeared to jump onto the ball. Askey’s men called for an indirect free kick, but the referee turned away.
The action cooled off until Jack Midson cut through the Macc defence on the 32nd minute mark but the defenders remained strong and recaptured possession. Eastleigh were then straight onto the back foot, forcing Jamie Truly to give up a corner for the home side. After a manic scramble in the box, Eastleigh managed to clear their lines.
A few moments of panic nearly saw the home side take the lead, Halls was caught in possession twice by the Spitfire’s strikers, but both Tony Diagne and George Pilkington were on hand to make last minute challenges.
Andy Drury then connected with a half volley from 20 yards and it appeared to be arrowing into the top left hand corner, but Branagan was equal to it and the game remained goalless at half time.
Danny Whitaker came close to giving the Silkmen a 1-0 lead two minutes into the second half, Joe Partington slipped in the box but Whitaker’s strike deflected away and Jack Sampson flashed a header wide from the resulting corner.
Macc’s keeper was called into shot-stopping action yet again, Lafayette latched onto Partington’s drilled cross, yet Branagan’s reflexes somehow kept the ball out from close range. Lafayette was then played in by Constable, but his strike was helped over the bar by Branagan.
Danny Rowe was substituted on for Jack Sampson with 61 minutes played and he nearly assisted the opening goal after he found Kristian Dennis from the left flank, however the forward’s low shot flew past the far post.
Eastleigh then attacked down the right hand side again, Jack Midson skipped past Diagne and crossed for Lafayette who headed past Branagan, who could only knock it onto the under the side of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net.
The goal seemed to suck the wind right out of the Macclesfield players, as they showed few signs of finding a way back into the game. Rowe sliced a set piece wide before Byrne’s header was saved with ease.
Macc’s last chance for an equalising goal came when Halls floated a hopeful cross into Paul Lewis in stoppage time, but the keeper was alert to collect it quickly. Eastleigh held out for all three points and the Silkmen now go into the Chester game hoping to end a two game losing skid.