Keanu Marsh-Brown brace sinks Silkmen
Dover's on-loan forward Keanu Marsh-Brown was the difference, as the Silkmen fell to a 2-0 defeat at the Crabble.
The Silkmen had several chances on the day but were frustrated by a Dover side who gave their own promotion hopes a lift.
Despite the defeat, Macclesfield retained their lead at the top of the National League as promotion rivals Sutton fell to defeat at Maidstone United.
John Askey named an unchanged starting XI for the trip to Dover in wintry conditions, with Callum Evans fit enough to return to the bench.
The game began at a blistering pace, with Dover's Keanu Marsh-Brown on loan from Forest Green Rovers scoring just one minute into his debut shooting from 25 yards, with his powerful strike nestling into the bottom corner.
As Macclesfield looked to get back into the game they went close from a corner as Mitch Hancox had two efforts at goal, the second blocked well by the Dover defence.
The game continued to follow the same pattern with Macclesfield creating all of the attacks and having plenty of shots on goal, but unable to beat Mitch Walker in the Dover nets. The clearest chance of the first-half fell to Silkmen top scorer Scott Wilson, who turned his defender and was through one-on-one with Walker, but his effort was turned away for a corner.
The majority of Dover attacks came from a long ball approach, and this was the source of their second goal in the 36th minute. Macclesfield gave the ball away and a long ball upfield was latched onto by Marsh-Brown, who took the ball around Shwan Jalal to roll into the net.
The second half began well for the Silkmen with Hancox firing a shot at Walker's goal, who initially spilled it, but recovered before a Macclesfield player could tap home. Another great chance presented itself for the Silkmen in the 52nd minute but after Wilson opted not to shoot, Whitehead lofted his shot off target.
Marsh-Brown threatened to finish his debut with a hat-trick and was only stopped by a superb save from Jalal, and he was substituted in the 64th minute. Dover put men behind the ball as they looked to protect their lead and Azeez picked up a yellow card after being flagged offside before continuing to fire the ball into the net.
Walker continued to deny Hancox in what was a frustrating afternoon, palming his shot away from goal in the 72nd minute, and it wasn't to be for Macclesfield who were unable to breakdown a defensive Dover.
Macclesfield Town Starting XI: Jalal; Hodgkiss (Evans 82'), Lowe, Pilkington, Fitzpatrick, Durrell, Whitehead, Whitaker, Hancox (Burgess 82'), Wilson (Marsh 60'), Blissett
Subs not used: Ramsbottom, Kennedy
Yellow cards: Hodgkiss 41'
Dover Athletic Starting XI: Walker, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam, Lokko, Ilesanmi, Bellamy, Brundle (c), Pinnock (Daniel 69'), Azeez (Bird 89'), Marsh-Brown (Jeffrey 64')
Subs not used: Nortey, Passley
Goalscorers: Marsh-Brown 1' 36'
Yellow cards: Azeez 63'
By Molly Hudson