Macclesfield Town were held to a 0-0 draw at the Moss Rose last night against Dover Athletic.
The first half was a story of two red cards as both sides were reduced to ten men as Ritchie Branagan was sent off in opening minutes of the first half, before Dover’s Richard Orlu was given his marching orders just before the break.
Although they were a man down for over half an hour, Macc looked the most dangerous side throughout the game, however they were unable to break the deadlock. A point for both teams saw the Silkmen stay in 10th position, whilst Dover retained 3rd place in the National League table.
Macclesfield were in trouble early as referee Simon Bennett produced a controversial red card for Branagan in just the third minute after he had adjudged the keeper to have fouled Ricky Modeste as he broke through on the counter attack.
Jack Sampson stepped up to play the remainder of the game in the Silkmen’s goal as Shwan Jalal wasn’t fit enough to make the bench.
Despite the setback, Macc started the game brightly in possession, Andy Halls found Danny Whitehead on the right wing who delivered an excellent ball for Chris Holroyd, however Holroyd’s header was cleared away from danger.
The home fans were then up in arms once again as the ball looked to have rolled out of play for a throw-in, yet the third official kept her flag down, allowing Ricky Miller a clear run at Sampson. However the make-shift keeper was able to pull off a smart save at his near post.
After 25 minutes it was an open and even affair, Whitehead had a beautifully struck shot fizz wide of the near post from 20 yards out, whilst Sampson produced a brilliant save to deny Stefan Payne at the other end.
Macc then started to take control of the tempo and it was Danny Rowe and Holroyd who were causing problems for Dover with their pace and dribbling prowess. With 35 minutes gone, Whitaker played a lofted ball into Holroyd who knocked it into Rowe’s path, he managed to get a low shot on target but Mitch Walker was equal to it.
Sampson was then called into action once again as Miller was sent clean through on goal, yet Sampson was alert to the danger once again with a comfortable save from close range.
A clash between Orlu and Reece Styche in the 41st minute then led to the referee producing another red card but this time it was for Dover’s Orlu after his reaction to the incident.
Macc were rallied by the supporting fans and nearly entered the break 1-0 up through John McCombe, substitute Paul Turnbull whipped in an accurate cross but the defender saw his headed effort go over the crossbar and the first half came to a close with score level at 0-0.
The Silkmen enjoyed a fast start to the second half as Rowe made a surging run into the box and clipped a cross into Holroyd at the near post, however his outstretched boot could only guide the ball wide of the mark.
John Askey’s men had picked up the same intensity they had ended the first half with and really began to dominate the ball. With 58 minutes gone, Styche earned a free-kick in a dangerous area, it eventually came to George Pilkington but he couldn’t get enough behind his header to threaten the goalkeeper.
With just under 70 minutes played, Dover’s Sean Raggett was lucky he avoided another red card for his side after a reckless tackle on Styche. Macc were continuing to work hard all over the pitch but they were just unable to find a breakthrough.
Styche then made way for Kristian Dennis and the substitute striker nearly made an instant impact with his deadly accurate left foot. McCombe found Dennis in the box who was able to swivel and shoot but he dragged it just wide of the far post.
As the game edged towards the final minutes it was McCombe who drove the team forward, his shot was deflected and the resulting corner fell to Rowe who had his volleyed effort cleared away to safety.
Macc pushed for a winner with another attacking sub as Sutherland replaced Holroyd, but despite a brilliant team effort, the Silkmen were made to settle for a 0-0 draw.
The result saw the Silkmen extend their current run to eight games unbeaten, and they will look to continue that this Saturday when they host Guiseley at the Moss Rose.
Macclesfield Town: Branagan, Halls, Pilkington, McCombe, Fitzpatrick, Holroyd (Sutherland), Whitaker, Whitehead (Turnbull 30), Rowe, Styche (Dennis), Sampson
Subs not used: Byrne, Diagne
Dover Athletic: Walker, Magri, Raggett (Bellamy), Orlu, Modeste, Miller (Acheampong), Deverdics, Parkinson, Payne, Braham-Barrett, Essam
Subs not used: Grimes, Sterling, Marsh
Today's attendance: 1,022