Danny Whitaker and Neil Howarth’s inaugural league match in charge of Macclesfield Town ended in defeat as Harry Gilmour’s second-half strike proved the difference to seal the three points for Micky Mellon’s promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers.
The defeat leaves the Silkmen still searching for that much needed first win back in the EFL; however, a spirited performance from the Cheshire side may have ended differently if the inside of the post minutes hadn't denied Michael Rose's superb free-kick minutes before the home side’s winner.
The result also ends Macc’s impressive Friday night unbeaten record with the Silkmen tasting defeat on a Friday for the first time in four.
The Silkmen started positively on a wet and windy evening at Prenton Park that saw both teams looking to play from the off with the hosts seeing most of the ball in the opening ten minutes of the match.
Rovers earnt themselves a free-kick from a threatening position when Olli Banks was brought down by Peter Vincenti. Adam Buxton took the set-piece, and his right-footed effort was whipped around the Macclesfield wall before striking the post to deny Tranmere an early lead.
Malachi Napa was full of energy down the right-hand flank drawing two early fouls from the Rovers defence. Michael Rose took up his regular set-piece role and whipped a delightful ball into the Tranmere box finding the head of Vincenti who faultlessly headed home. However, much to the despair of the Silkmen midfielder the goal was ruled offside to deny the visitors a dream start.
Rose picked up an early booking after bringing down a surging James Norwood who was charging at the Macclesfield goal. The former Forest Green Rovers striker was a constant menace for the Silkmen back-four looking to add to his impressive tally of eight league goals this season.
Jonny Smith got the home fans off their seat when his left-footed strike rocketed just over the crossbar giving Rhys Taylor a scare.
The Silkmen grew into the game finding their rhythm in possession. Napa drew a save from Scott Davies following a clever one-two with Nathan Blisset before his strike was collected from the Rovers goalkeeper.
Macclesfield started where they left off in the second period looking to test the Tranmere defence and oppose themselves in attack. Tyrone Marsh was awarded a free-kick after Luke Mucullough impeded him.
Another Marsh effort at goal was met with a roar from the travelling Silkmen supporters who started to believe they were firmly in this contest.
The opening scare of the second-half came after Tranmere nearly broke the deadlock despite the run of play. Norwood once again was authoritative to win back the Rovers ball before unleashing another venomous shot that was parried away by Taylor for a corner.
A glorious opportunity fell again for the hosts when Norwood was once again unleashed by his Rovers teammates into a one-on-one with Taylor. The Tranmere forward did well to completely bypass the Macclesfield defence with only the keeper to beat. However, his trickery was let down by his composure as his effort was hit straight at Taylor who did well to deny the home side the lead.
Another free-kick fell to the Silkmen when Vincenti was brought down by Tranmere skipper McNulty just shy of the penalty area. Rose stepped up to take and curled a delicious effort that struck the inside of the Rovers post before being cleared to frustrate the visitors to an unlikely opening goal.
Prenton Park was finally treated to a goal on the 74th-minute mark. Connor Jenning’s extraordinary run saw him beat three Silkmen players before finding Harry Gilmore on the edge of the box whose composed left-footed finish left Taylor helpless to send the home fans into delirium.
The hosts nearly put the game to bed when Jennings spurned a glorious opportunity with 5 minutes left on the clock. The Winger was slotted through by Norwood before spurning his effort horrendously wide to keep the visitors in the game.
Ben Stephens came on to make his long-awaited Macclesfield debut replacing Marsh who looked positive on several moments in the match.
Injury time came calling, and Macclesfield looked to salvage one final opportunity. Fitzpatrick and Vincenti linked up on the left-hand side before the former Coventry midfielder whipped a cross into the Rovers box finding the head of Blisset who couldn’t connect with the ball before sending his header wide.
The home side held on for the three points as they continue their impressive run of only one defeat in 10 league matches to send Mellon’s troops to fourth in the League Two table.
It wasn’t quite to be for the Silkmen despite the heroic support of the 281 travelling away supporters who drove their troops on until the very end.
Whitaker and Howarth will be pleased with their player's efforts on the night and will be boosted by the eight-day break as the Silkmen will have over a week to rest up for their home clash to Carlisle next Saturday.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Buxton, McNulty (Cole 68), Monthe, McNulty, Caprice, Banks, McCullough, Smith, Jennings, Gilmour, Norwood
Unused substitutions: George, Harris, Mullin, Ellis, Motley-Henry
Macclesfield Town: Taylor, Hodkiss, Lowe, Grimes, Fitzpatrick, Rose, Vincenti, Maycock, Marsh, Napa (Wilson 79), Vincenti
Unused subs: Kelleher, Smith, Pearson, Welch-Hayes, Simpson
By Joshua Kerr