Macclesfield Town were dealt with a late blow after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Cambridge United this afternoon.
Jabo Ibehre’s 80th minute winner was a tough pill to swallow in a game where the Silkmen could have quite easily snatched all three points.
Danny Whitaker and Neil Howarth made three changes to the team that started against Northampton Town on Tuesday, with Fiacre Kelleher and Harry Smith returning to the team whilst Ben Stephens was also handed his first start as a Silkmen player.
And it was the Silkmen who started the game brightly, immediately setting out of the traps and looking to grab a foothold of the game. Peter Vincenti won a free-kick in Cambridge territory and Michael Rose’s in-swinging cross somehow managed to fizzle past everyone and out for a goal kick.
Macc sustained their early pressure and came close to opening the scoring after three minutes. Stephens leapt high to direct a David Fitzpatrick cross towards goal, and Nathan Blissett latched onto the end of it but Cambridge keeper David Forde was alert to prevent the striker from scoring.
Both teams, with the importance of the fixture weighing in their shoulders, were slightly tentative in their approach but the Silkmen were still able to fashion dangerous chances, and after 23 minutes Smith found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the D, but could only blaze his shot over.
The game past the half hour mark and the Silkmen enjoyed possession in the Cambridge half but were unable to muster many clear-cut chances.
The hosts responded, and some resilient defending from Danny Whitaker and Neil Howarth’s side meant the game entered the break goalless.
The Silkmen began the second-half in a similar fashion to the first, and enjoyed success down the right hand side with Peter Vincenti and Jared Hodgkiss managing to get in behind, but without fruition.
Stephens was yet again a focal point in the Silkmen attack, and the forward was causing the Cambridge defence numerous problems before testing Forde from distance after 55 minutes.
The game transitioned into a midfield battle, but Macc were still looking the more dangerous side and in the 80th minute and it was Stephens who produced a near-brilliant piece of skill that was inches away from giving the Silkmen the lead.
Lifting the ball past a few defenders 25-yards out, Stephens launched a venemous volley that had beaten Forde but struck the crossbar.
The ball was cleared and Cambridge countered, and the resulting attack provided the match with it’s only goal of the game via Ibehre.
Whitaker and Howarth turned to Wilson and Miles Welch-Hayes as they looked to secure a late equaliser, but the Silkmen’s desperate efforts for that elusive goal were thwarted by a stubborn Cambridge defence.
The defeat is a massive suckerpunch in a game that Macclesfield didn’t deserve to lose, and attentions must be turned to our home game against Bury next week, where we will need supporters to be the twelfth man yet again!