Sol Campbell’s first league game as Macclesfield Town Manager ended in a 1-0 defeat to Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Mikael Mandron’s first-half strike proved to be the pivotal difference between the two teams, with The Silkmen guilty of missing a number of gilt-edged chances in the game.
After weathering an early Colchester storm, Elliott Durrell fashioned The Silkmen’s first chance of the match as he cut inside from the right wing and curled a sumptuous effort just wide of the post.
Kieran O’Hara had to be alert after 10 minutes as the hosts pressed early on, denying long-range efforts from both Ryan Jackson and Courtney Senior.
Eight changes to the team that started against Newcastle Under 21’s meant it took a little time for Campbell’s side to settle. But Danny Whitaker, with his wealth of experience, asserted control of the game and unleashed a striking 25-yard effort at goal - yet Dillon Barnes saved well.
The resulting set-piece provided Ryan Lloyd with time and space out wide before whipping in an inviting cross that Durrell could only head over. On another day the winger could easily have found the back of the net from six yards out.
However, despite The Silkmen’s chances, Colchester broke the deadlock in the 29th minute. A long ball from Frankie Kent was controlled well by Sammie Szmodics, allowing The U’s to counter as he fed Ryan Jackson. The full-back pulled the ball back to Mandron, who drilled his effort into the bottom corner. The goal also ended Macclesfield’s spell of 233 minutes without conceding a league goal.
With the home side’s confidence lifted, The Silkmen had to be composed and resolute to prevent going further behind. Fiacre Kelleher did well to gather the ball in his own box as Szmodics looked to pass him down the bye-line.
Macclesfield enjoyed some fruitful spells of possession, however they struggled to find the killer pass against a compact Colchester defensive unit – demonstrated by Ben Stephens’ inability to wriggle his way through before Whitaker’s ball to Lloyd was the over hit.
The second-half started brightly for both sides, and Campbell looked to have ignited his sides attacking intent for the remaining 45.
Durrell once again caused problems down the right and this time fed Harry Smith, but his cross was too high for Lloyd at the back post.
Stephens again was trying his best to generate an opportunity, and he combined with Durrell, with the latter winning a free-kick in a dangerous area. Michael Rose delivered an inviting ball, but Colchester were able to clear.
The Silkmen were beginning to dominate proceedings at this point and came to within inches of grabbing an equaliser when Stephens crossed the ball towards Kelleher at the far post, but his header glanced just wide of the Colchester goal.
The home side, with an attack-minded bench, began to ask a few questions of the Macclesfield defence around the 75 minute mark, with David Fitzpatrick defending well against Nouble before the striker tested the reflexes of O’Hara.
In a last attempt to find an equaliser, Campbell threw on the added aerial presence of Peter Vincenti and Nathan Blissett. The latter dI’d superbly well to create space deep in Colchester territory, but his dangerous cross across the face of the goal somehow evaded an array of Silkmen players.
The result sees The Silkmen’s unbeaten league streak come to an end against a side that will be competing for promotion come the end of the season. There are plenty of positives to take, and these must be translated into our next two vital home games against Crawley Town and Port Vale.
Silkmen team: O’Hara, Pearson, Kelleher, Cameron, Fitzpatrick, Durrell (Blissett, 86), Rose, Whitaker (Vincenti, 80), Lloyd (Marsh, 66), Stephens, Smith
Unused substitutes: Grimes, Welch-Hayes, Ponticelli, Blissett, Wilson,
Colchester United team: Barnes, Jackson, Kent, Prosser, Vincent-Young, Senior (Dickenson, 69), Lapslie, Pell, Nouble, Szmodics (Comley, 82), Mandron (Norris, 76)
Unused substitutes: Gilmartin, Kensdale, Collins, Gondoh
By Jaquob Crooke