Macclesfield Town’s five-match unbeaten run came to an end at the New Lawn Stadium as Forest Green Rovers ran out 2-0 winners despite the Silkmen still sitting above the drop zone with other results going their way.
The scoreline failed to truly reflect the story of the game with both teams creating very little in a hugely fierce and contested battle between both sets of players as Macc lost their first away match since March 2.
Christian Doidge broke the deadlock 11 minutes into the second half with his 3rd strike in two matches. Joseph Mills ensured victory in the 88th minute as his free-kick somehow trickled in from 25 yards out to beat Kieran O’Hara at his near post.
It was only FGR’s second home victory – the other coming against Yeovil Town – in their last six matches as Rovers move within six points of automatic promotion following their second consecutive league victory.
The Silkmen remained competitive for large periods of the match – certainly in the first-half – with Michael Rose and Reece Cole going close with long-range strikes.
Nathan Cameron could have been considered unfortunate to not have been awarded a late penalty after the Macclesfield club captain was clattered in the box by Farrend Rawson but referee Craig Hicks deemed it not worthy of a spot-kick.
Fiacre Kelleher did exceptionally well to keep close tabs on the prolific Doidge with the Silkmen defender making a number of important challenges to keep to Rovers striker at bay for the majority of the game.
The first half could only be described as a failed spectacle in comparison to the Tuesday night blockbuster against Exeter. Neither side really threatened to take the lead in the opening 45 minutes.
Junior Mondal was the hosts most lively outfit with a couple of fierce strikes from distance. The FGR winger gave David Fitzpatrick his fair share of work in the opening exchanges with the No.25 using his pace to devastating effect on the right-hand side.
Harry Smith was struggling to see the ball due to the lack of ball retention in the midfield from both teams. The first real chance for the Silkmen’s talisman came just shy of the 30-minute mark when Elliott Durrell’s whipped cross met the head of Smith who was towering over Rawson despite heading his effort over.
Both teams were much hungrier in the second-period with as many shots in the opening few minutes as there were in the entirety of the first half. Cole and Rose saw their long-range efforts just elude the Rovers goal before Doidge thundered a strike high-and-wide of the crossbar.
The Silkmen were guilty of giving away some needless free-kicks and the visitors were punished when Mills’ set-piece found Doidge who made no mistake with a predator like finish to poke the ball past a helpless O’Hara.
The striker was non-existent for large periods of the match but the former Bolton Wanderers striker's goal personified his quality with the No.9's 12th goal in 22 matches for FGR.
Macclesfield introduced Danny Whitaker for Rose to try and grasp a stronghold in the middle of the park. Smith continued to struggle up top with little coming off for the Silkmen striker.
However, Smith did hold up the ball well when called upon and earnt a free-kick in a good area following a foul from Rawson.
Macclesfield continued to huff and puff but their efforts were exterminated late-on when Mills made it a goal and an assist in an afternoons work after the midfielders free-kick snuck in at the near post to round off the win.
This wasn’t a performance to discourage supporters or distract everyone involved with the club’s main goal. Despite the defeat, this was a spirited performance that can be taken into Easter Friday’s away visit to Northampton Town. There will also be extra motivation for the Silkmen considering what occurred in the reverse fixture against the Cobblers back in October.
Forest Green Rovers: Ward, Shephard, Rawson, McGinley, Mills, Winchester, Collins (Lloyd-James 90), Mondal (McCoulsky 81) , Brown, Williams (Gunning 66), Doidge.
Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Welch-Hayes, Cameron, Kelleher, Jules, Fitzpatrick, Cole (Wilson 76), Rose (Whitaker 59), Stephens, Durrell, Smith.