Goals from Chuks Aneke and Kieran Agard proved to be the difference as Macclesfield Town suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of MK Dons.
The Silkmen produced an impressive first-half performance and were left to rue several missed chances as the home side displayed their goal-scoring capabilities.
Nathan Cameron also gave an imposing debut and will certainly prove to be an invaluable addition as the season progresses.
Macclesfield asserted themselves straight from the first whistle and looked to attack their opponents with pace and width. Elliot Durrell collected a Fiacre Kelleher clearance on the edge of his own area and jerked his way out of danger to generate a Macclesfield counter. The winger fed Ben Stephens out left and the striker held the ball up well before pulling it back to Durrell, but his strike was deflected over.
The opening 20 minutes produced a fairly even match-up between both sides, with the Silkmen looking compact and organised but also looking dangerous when operating in the final third.
Stephens found a good opportunity go begging 26 minutes in when he intercepted a George Williams pass deep in opposition territory, but his long-range effort was saved by Lee Nicholls.
The Dons, who knew they could go top of the league with a win, countered immediately and they thought they had taken the lead from the resulting attack when Agard slotted past Kieran O’Hara, however the official on the far side had his flag up for offside.
Stephens, with three goals in his last three games, had a gilt-edged chance on the half hour mark as he headed Ryan Lloyd’s cross straight at Nicholls from five-yards out. On reflection, the striker acknowledged he could have done better, especially in his recent scintillating form.
The Silkmen’s resilience shone through again on the 39th minute. With the home side enjoying a positive spell of pressure, Kelleher and O’Hara put their bodies on the line to ultimately win a free-kick and rule out Agard’s header.
Both teams made a more electric start to proceedings in the second-half, and some patient build-up play from the Silkmen produced a superb chance. Whitaker fed David Fitzpatrick down the left, who held it up well to tee off Lloyd and his low cross was poked at goal by Whitaker, although Nicholls was able to save it comfortably.
However, the Dons made the breakthrough on the 52nd minute when Aneke cut inside onto his left foot and curled his effort into the right-hand corner.
Paul Tisdale’s side had their tails up in the aftermath of the goal, and Macclesfield done well to weather the storm with Kelleher and Cameron making vital interventions in the penalty area.
The game was approaching the hour mark when Michael Rose nearly produced a moment of excellence from 30 yards out. The midfielder collected the ball from James Pearson before swiftly moving inside and unleashing a left-footed strike that whizzed just past the far post.
Five minutes later, the home side had doubled their advantage. Agard held his run to beat Macc’s offside trap and latch onto Alex Gilbey’s lofted pass, and the striker done well to control before finishing past O’Hara.
With the Silkmen looking for a route back into the game, Koby Arthur looped a cross over to Smith at the back post, but his header across the face of goal fell just a few inches too far in front of the on-rushing Whitaker.
Macc continued to ask questions of their opposition, with Arthur dragging his shot wide from the edge of the area before Lloyd fired wide.
Two of the league’s most in-form strikers proved to be the vital difference and Neil Howarth’s team can take solace from their performance for the majority of the game. They will not come up against many better sides this season, and attentions must now be focused towards a crucial home game against Yeovil Town next Saturday.
Macclesfield Team: O’Hara, Hodgkiss (Pearson, 34), Kelleher, Cameron, Fitzpatrick ©, Durrell (Arthur, 69), Rose, Whitaker, Lloyd, Stephens (Maycock, 74), Smith
Unused substitutes: Taylor, Grimes, Blissett, Vincenti,
MK Dons team: Nicholls, Williams, Brittain, Cargill, Lewington ©, Healey (Simpson, 88), Gilbey, Houghton, Moore-Taylor, Aneke (Asonganyi, 70), Agard (D’Ath, 66)
Unused substitutes: Moore, Watson, Hancox, McGrandles,