Macclesfield Town claimed their first away league win of the season with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Exeter City.
Harry Smith’s 54th minute goal proved to be the vital difference between the two sides as the Silkmen made it two consecutive league victories and gain a valuable three points in the fight for survival.
The result also means Macclesfield have now kept back-to-back clean sheets for the first time this campaign, with the Silkmen producing yet another valiant defensive display to shutout their opponents.
Elliot Durrell made a swift start to proceedings a minute into the game, collecting the ball on the halfway line and advancing through the Exeter midfield before dragging his shot wide.
Ryan Lloyd produced a moment of excellence and delivered a sumptuous ball 24 minutes in to split the Grecians defence and send Durrell through on goal. The winger done excellently to reach the ball and get a shot away, although Exeter keeper Christy Pym was equal to it and managed to parry behind for a corner.
The Silkmen were once again demonstrating their resilient nature and found themselves having to weather a testing Exeter storm 33 minutes in. Nathan Cameron and Fiacre Kelleher made a number of vital clearances and interceptions as Macclesfield kept the home side at bay.
Their resilience was almost rewarded in the 36th minute when Durrell picked up the loose ball on the halfway line and raced towards the Exeter goal, however a superb recovery from Dean Moxey prevented Durrell from getting a clean strike away.
Macclesfield grew into the game offensively which allowed Durrell to temporarily hover into a ‘ghost striker’ role. As a result, Lloyd found some space on the edge of Exeter’s penalty area and was able to loop a cross to the far post where Smith was waiting, but brave defending from Jordan Tillson denied the striker from making contact with the ball.
The Silkmen made their breakthrough nine minutes into the second-half. A superb move was initiated by Kelleher on the left-hand side, and his switched ball out to the right was excellently controlled by Durrell. The winger’s touch enabled him to quickly whip in an inviting cross and Smith reacted quickest to poke the ball past Pym and give Macclesfield the lead.
An hour had passed and Durrell continued to be a nuisance for the Exeter defence. The 28-year-old got the better of Moxey from a long ball and won a free-kick, and the resulting set-piece from Michael Rose was curled in just fractions away from the on-rushing Kelleher at the back post.
Macclesfield were proving to be a danger on the counter and this was exemplified on the 68th minute when Durrell collected a loose pass from Chiedozie Ogbene with three players in support. Durrell fed Danny Whitaker into the penalty area, but his effort was blocked by Pierce Sweeney and Smith’s follow-up sailed over the bar.
The home side were struggling to break down an organised and compact Silkmen side, and Macc’s defensive prowess was typified by Callum Evans’ exceptional sliding challenge on Lee Holmes to block the striker’s effort.
Wave after wave of Exeter attacks ensued but Macclesfield stood firm, making it two wins on the bounce and giving Sol Campbell a positive platform to build on heading into his first game in the Checkatrade Trophy next week.
Macclesfield Town XI: O’Hara, Pearson, Cameron, Kelleher, Fitzpatrick, Rose, Evans (Maycock, 81), Durrell, Whitaker, Lloyd (Vincenti, 84), Smith (Blissett, 76)
Unused substitutes: Grimes, Wilson, Stephens, Arthur
Exeter City XI: Pym, Sweeney, Tillson (Abrahams, 55), Taylor, Moxey, Forte (Ogbene, 55), O’Shea, Law, Croll (Woodman, 64), Stockley, Holmes
Unused substitutes: Hamon, Martin, Jay, Collins