Macclesfield Town were denied their first victory in over six years back in the Football League as Newport County twice fought back to salvage a point as Jamille Matt’s 97th-minute equaliser broke Silkmen hearts at the Rodney Parade stadium.
Fiacre Kelleher and David Fitzpatrick poised the visitors in the driving seat with two early goals before Dan Butler’s effort inspired a Newport comeback.
The Exiles captain Mickey Demetriou levelled the scoring when his penalty was slotted expertly past Kieran O’Hara before referee Trevor Kettle awarded Macclesfield another penalty and the third spot-kick on the night.
Fitzpatrick smashed his effort home to secure a brace for the Silkmen captain before Matt shattered Macclesfield hearts when his headed effort denied Mark Yates’s side all three points.
A blistering first-half saw The Silkmen instantly firing themselves into the ascendancy after Kelleher towered above every Newport player in his path to drive home his headed effort to fire Yates’ side into an early lead against The Exiles.
The joy didn’t stop there for the visitors as the traveling Cheshire side were awarded a penalty just minutes after scoring the opener.
A long ball from Kieran O’Hara was flicked on from Nathan Blissett and Tyrone Marsh raced beyond Butler before being pulled down by the defender. Referee Kettle showed no hesitation almost instantly pointing towards the spot.
Fitzpatrick made no mistakes with a calm and collected penalty to double The Silkmen’s advantage.
Blisset was proving to be a real problem for the home side early on with the 28-year-old forward bullying The Exiles defence with his aerial dominance.
The visitor's euphoria was eventually calmed when Macclesfield picked up two bookings as both Scott Wilson and Peter Vincenti were cautioned after both players impeded Charlie Cooper in their tracks.
The Forest Green loanee was a bright focal point for the home side causing early problems for the visitors in the second half with Macclesfield coming up against the second Cooper in just a number of days with The Silkmen facing Charlie’s dad Mark when the Forest Green Rovers manager brought the Gloucestershire side to the Moss Rose on Saturday.
Kelleher and Lowe were enjoying a new-found defensive partnership with the Silkmen defenders clearing everything in their path to frustrate the home side to limited chances.
However, the home side did salvage a way back into the game when a corner routine straight from the training ground brought one back for the hosts. Butler saw himself free at the edge of the box, and the ball fell into the 24-year-olds path before the former Portsmouth defender slotted his effort past O’Hara to fire this fixture back into life.
The second half began with waves of Newport possession followed by numerous chances for The Exiles to find an equaliser.
Their early pressure paid dividends when Kettle pointed to the spot for a second time in the game this time awarding the spot-kick to the home side following a foul from Kelleher.
A sloppy penalty to concede after Day launched a goal-kick forward and headed into the path of Matt. The former Fleetwood Town striker took the ball past O’Hara who came storming off his line before being dragged down by Kelleher.
Exiles captain Mickey Demetriou stepped up for Flynn’s side to expertly slide his left-footed penalty past O’Hara to level up the affair and inspire a terrific comeback from the South Wales outfit.
A killer blow for the visitors and another setback that could have got the better of Yates’ troops, but, his Silkmen responded well to drag themselves back into the affair.
A Macclesfield corner once again looked to find the towering Kelleher who lept up high before the ball fell to the floor before striking Demetriou’s arm leaving the referee no choice but to award the third penalty of the night.
Once again Fitzpatrick took the weight of the loyal travelling 52 supporters to step up for yet another spot-kick. The Silkmen captain on the night made a nervy run to the ball before smashing his effort past a helpless Joe Day to once again fire Macclesfield into an unlikely lead with ten minutes left to play.
The visitors were agonisingly close to their first victory since their return to the footballing league, and Yate’s players were defending like heroes to frustrate the home side.
There was a couple of heart in mouth moments for Macc as the referee looked to have awarded Newport a second penalty, however, Trevor Kettle had signalled for a goal kick much to the delight of the away fans.
The Silkmen were seconds away from their first victory in over six years back in the EFL. Numbers of Newport attacks were expertly dealt with by the inspired defensive partnership of Lowe and Kelleher.
However, the visitors couldn’t quite hold on as they went on to concede in the most heart-breaking fashion. As the 97th minute lingered a looping ball to the back post was met Matt whose controlled header into the bottom corner shattered the dreams of the Macclesfield faithful who had waited for more than half a decade to see their team taste victory back in League Two.
A sucker punch to deny Macc their first three points of the season but a performance the players can most certainly build on.
The team will have to respond quickly and dust off the pain of seeing another victory snatched from their grasp. The Silkmen host, Notts County on Saturday and performances like tonight, will reassure the fans that surely that maiden victory back in the top-flight isn’t too far down the road.
Macclesfield: O’Hara, Hodgkiss, Lowe, Kelleher, Fitzpatrick, Maycock, Vincenti, Arthur, Marsh, Wilson, Blissett
Attendance: 2624 (52 away)