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Match Report: Macclesfield Town 1-1 Cheltenham Town

21 August 2018

The Silkmen were left to rue a string of missed chances including a late penalty that would have ensured victory for the hosts. However, the footballing gods had other ideas as The Robins struck a late equaliser to deny Mark Yates his first domestic victory of the season.

Danny Whitaker’s early first-half free-kick from 20-yards found the bottom right-hand corner to give The Silkmen a deserved early lead and the game should have been out of sight when referee Paul Marsden pointed to the spot with 15 minutes left to play.

However, Whitaker failed to double the host's advantage and his tally for the evening when his spot-kick was saved heroically by Scott Flinders.

It proved to be the turning point of the game as the visitors drew level in the 84th minute when substitute Manny Duku came off the bench to deny Macclesfield the win and earn The Robins their first point of the season.

The game started brightly for the hosts with Macclesfield storming out of the blocks with waves of early attacks that completely bewildered the visitors and placed Yates’ side in the driving seat.

Two early shots on target should have been enough evidence for the visitors that The Silkmen meant business and Harry Smith looked hungrier than ever with his initial effort forcing Cheltenham goalkeeper Scott Flinders into a smart save.

Scott Wilson was another Macc player looking to get off the mark for the season when he found himself one-on-one with the 32-year-old shot-stopper. However, the former Macclesfield keeper once again came flying out to deny his former teammate.

Manchester United goalkeeper and Silkmen debutant Kieran O’Hara conducted himself well in his opening appearance at The Moss Rose, with the 22-year-old goalkeeper being called into early action to save a testing shot from Ryan Broom.

However, The Silkmen continued to grow in stature and their early dominance soon showed when a free-kick from 20-yards was struck by Player-Assistant Manager Whitaker whose curling right-footed strike was expertly whipped around the Cheltenham wall to find the bottom right-hand corner and fire the hosts into a deserved early lead.

The opening goal saw Macclesfield in the ascendancy, and the free-flowing football didn’t stop there. The Silkmen smelt blood and should have added a second when Smith found himself through on goal with acres of space. The 23-year-old striker got the ball onto his desired right foot before curling an effort agonisingly just shy of the post to deny Yates’ side a two-goal advantage.

Half-time saw Macclesfield leave the field towards the dressing room in the lead for the first time this season-  despite the scoreline debatably not truly reflecting the Silkmen’s early supremacy.

The second period saw The Robins grow into the game with the hosts holding back and sitting uncomfortably deeper than usual.

A number of Cheltenham set-pieces looked to test the heart of the Macclesfield defence and none other than Fiacre Kelleher answered the call with a number of heroic blocks and interceptions frustrating the visitors to limited second-half chances.

Macclesfield could have been home and dry when Referee Marsden awarded a spot-kick when Will Boyle fouled Nathan Blissett in the box fifteen from time. Whitaker stepped up to double his tally but saw his spot-kick tipped away from Flinders.

The Robins were a much better outfit second-half and despite failing to really test the hosts all game, their persistence paid off when substitute Duka pounced on a loose ball and struck home to salvage a point for the Gloucestershire side.

The Silkmen will have to dust themselves off from another late setback quickly, as their attention turns to Saturday where they will host Mansfield Town at The Moss Rose for another enthralling League Two encounter.

Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Grimes, Pearson, Blissett, Rose, Whitaker, Arthur (Napa 76), Smith, Wilson (Welch-Hayes 66)

Unused subs: Lowe, Marsh, Taylor, Evans, Maycock

Cheltenham Town: Flinders, Mullins, Antangana (Kalala 70), Thomas, McAlinden, Broom, Boyle, Addai, Debayo (Hussey 54), Maddox, Forster (Duku 59)

Unused subs: Tozer, Dawson, Baldwin, Lovett

By Joshua Kerr

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