Forest Green Rovers’ Charlie Clough scored deep into added time to consign Macclesfield to a 2-1 defeat in today’s Vanarama National League clash at the New Lawn Stadium.
Jack Sampson capitalised on an error from Kieffer Moore to put the Silkmen ahead before James Jennings scored against his former club eight minutes later.
The Silkmen performed admirably throughout the 90 minutes and would have been well worth a point, but hearts were broken in the third minute of added time when Clough netted the winner.
Defeat sees the Silkmen drop to eight in the National League, three points off the play-off places. Meanwhile Forest Green stay top of the table, one point ahead of title rivals Cheltenham.
The hosts stated their intentions early on when Moore headed over from two yards out in the second minute of the game. Jennings flicked on Keanu Marsh-Brown cross but there was too much pace on the ball and Moore could only head over the target.
Macclesfield’s first chance came in the 17th minute. Sampson could have got on the scoresheet early as he had a headed effort just sail wide of Steve Arnold’s goal.
Paul Lewis was an early injury concern for Macclesfield as he went down off the ball in the 23rd minute. The midfielder was subsequently replaced by club captain Paul Turnbull.
Moments later Macclesfield had another chance to break the deadlock. Danny Whitehead had a hopeful shot from outside the penalty area which was spilt by Arnold. However the Rovers’ defenders were on hand to spare the keeper’s blushes to clear the ball.
On the stroke of half-time Sampson had a second header go just wide of the goal. The striker appeared to get ahead of David Fitzpatrick’s cross and couldn’t steer his header towards the targets after losing his marker.
Whitehead pulled up clutching his hamstring in the 54th minute, the second injury of the game forcing John Askey into a change of system. The recently re-signed Reece Styche came on in place of the Wigan loanee to play against his former club, forcing Sampson to switch to the left wing as Styche became the new spearhead in the Macc attack.
The Silkmen opened the scoring in the 69th minute after a mistake from Moore. Styche played a seemingly harmless through-ball which was picked up by the Forest Green centre-back. His attempted pass back to keeper Arnold was pounced on by Sampson, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner from a tight angle.
Forest Green responded, bringing on former West Bromwich Albion midfielder Darren Carter and Marcus Kelly and their attacking intent was rewarded in the 77th minute.
Referee John Busby awarded the hosts with a questionable free kick which Rob Sinclair whipped into the penalty area. The ball somehow made it’s way to Jennings at the back post to hit the ball past Shwan Jalal and draw the scores level.
Both teams traded blows for the final stages of the game looking for a crucial three points.
Unfortunately for Askey’s men, that winner went to the league leaders. Jennings, who was a constant thorn in the Silkmen’s side, whipped in a cross that was met by centre-back Clough at the back post.
After a small scramble with Jalal, the defender managed to get the ball past the line to give his side all three points.
Forest Green Rovers team: Arnold, Jennings, Clough, Bennett, Wedgbury, Marsh-Brown (Kelly), Frear, Moore, Guthrie (Parkin), Sinclair, Williams (Carter)
Subs not used: Cooper, Jefford
Macclesfield Town team: Jalal, Halls, Byrne, Pilkington, Lewis (Turnbull), Holroyd (Sutherland), Sampson, Rowe, Whitehead (Styche), Fitzpatrick, Whitaker
Subs not used: Branagan, Diagne
Attendance: 1,617 (86 from Macclesfield)