Ben Stephens netted in his third consecutive game to help Macclesfield Town overcome an energetic West Bromwich Albion under-21 side and book a spot in the knockout stage of the Checkatrade Trophy.
It’s the Silkmen’s first win since defeating Carlisle United on league duty, capping off a great night at Moss Rose as Stephens continued his fine from in front of goal whilst Koby Arthur netted his first since his brace on the opening day.
The pair scored four minutes apart, quickly overturning Rayhaan Tulloch’s opener for the Baggies in Elliott Durrell’s first start in Macc blue since 27th March.
The Wizard on the Wing was one of four changes to the side that started the weekend’s FA Cup clash, while Callum Evans made the bench – his first call up since a nasty head injury at Morecambe 51 days ago.
Despite some fresh legs in the Silkmen side, West Brom’s lively 11 started the brighter as they looked to impress Albion first team manager Darren Moore, who watched on from the Main Stand.
Their energetic start had Macc on the back foot and forced the opener on the 14-minute mark. A cross from the right somehow wriggled to Finn Azaz ahead of Keiran O’Hara in the penalty area, who poked it to Tulloch to finish in front of the open net.
However, the unlucky goal seemed to work in Macc’s favour, spurring the hosts on for an equaliser which came just five minutes later.
Scott Wilson was played in behind the Baggies back-line, and despite a slip as he shot straight at Myhill, he quickly sprung up to prod the rebound to Stephens who slammed home.
This had the Silkmen’s tails up, and they turned the game on its head with their second goal moments later. Arthur picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and curled delightfully into the far corner past the despairing dive of Myhill.
In the 10 minutes, momentum had completely swung as Macc took the game to the Baggies, pinning the visitors in their own half.
Durrell looked full of life on his return, regularly crossing the ball into dangerous positions. However, it was a ball from Jared Hodgkiss that almost led to a third for the Silkmen seven minutes before the interval.
The full-back’s deep cross found Stephens at the back post, but the youngster could not keep his header down in the match’s only clear chance since the Silkmen second.
Half-time: Macclesfield Town 2-1 West Bromwich Albion U21
The sprightful Baggies were marginally the better side after the break, but Macc held their shape and contained their opponents to very few chances.
Stephens and Michael Rose were withdrawn at the hour mark to applauds from the Macc faithful, giving way to Harry Smith and the returning Callum Evans.
However, ten minutes later, O’Hara was on-hand with some superb reflexes to keep the Silkmen ahead.
Tulloch beat Hodgkiss for pace and looked to take the ball round the Silkmen stopper, but O’Hara’s fully outstretched arm brilliantly picked the ball out from under the striker’s foot.
Callum Morton then blazed over a volley from a right-sided cross in a bid to make amends, and Arthur then took it on his shoulders to show his fellow youngster how it’s done.
Harry Smith let the ball run to the 22-year-old, who volleyed sweetly towards goal but straight at Myhill.
West Brom tried to fasten themselves a few chances but failed to hit the target, while the Silkmen looked to beat the Baggies through pace and aerial prowess, but substitute Welch-Hayes couldn’t find Smith in the middle in Macc’s best chance of the half.
Smith worked himself into a shooting position with two minutes left of normal time, taking the ball past Kevin Healey and unleashing a powerful drive from outside the area that was saved by Myhill.
Arthur attempted to replicate his earlier goal in injury time, but saw his shot blocked in a crowded penalty area, as Macc saw out the game out for three points and a place in the Checkatrade Trophy’s last 32.
Full-time: Macclesfield Town 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
By Matt Bates
Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Hodgkiss, Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Durrell (Welch-Hayes 69’), Wilson, Stephens (Smith 59’), Maycock, Pearson, Arthur, Rose (Evans 59’).
Unused substitutes: Grimes, Taylor, Blissett, Vincenti.
West Bromwich Albion U21’s: Myhill, Barry, Tulloch, Morton, Ferguson, Howkins, Meredith, Clayton-Philips, Azaz, Healey, Harmon.
Unused substitutes: Soulee, Brown, Ashton, Gardner-Hickman, Keranovic.