With both teams searching for three points to pull them away from the relegation zone, it was a frustrating outing that ended in stalemate at the People’s Pension Stadium this afternoon.
A Harry Smith header just before the break was cancelled out five minutes from time by a deflected Lewis Young shot, resulting in the Silkmen’s third draw in as many games.
Sol named an almost unchanged side from last week’s draw at the Moss Rose, with Maycock starting ahead of Ntambwe in midfield. The 135 travelling fans were also encouraged to see both Durrell and Lloyd named on the bench.
Meanwhile Crawley manager Gabrielle Cioffi made two changes from the previous game. Manchester United loanee Matty Willock made his debut for The Reds alongside returning midfielder Josh Payne.
The game started off at a gallop, with both teams keen to make their mark. Crawley perhaps had the best of the opening few minutes, with Harry Smith forced to take on defending duties after a early home team attack.
Lewis Young was causing problems down the left for Fitzpatrick and debutant Matty Willock impressed with his pace.
The Silkmen steadied themselves and shaped their first chance just before the 10 minute mark. Welsh-Hayes found the waiting head of Smith at the far post. Smith was only able to head back across goal and Cole’s resulting shot went just wide from a tight angle.
Having weathered the early storm, Macc were able to take start to take control with Smith, Wilson and Cole all linking up well. The visitors maintained possession and began to push forward.
After another Harry Smith effort was cleared into the stands, Macc were forced to make their first chance of the game after Zak Jules clashed with Palmer. With no direct replacement for the big centre half, Stelios Demetriou came on from the bench to make his Silkmen debut.
The forced change broke up the Silkmen’s dominance somewhat and Crawley had their best chance of the half straight after the restart. Demetriou was immediately called into action to deal with an attack on the Silkmen goal, led by the imposing Palmer.
The Silkmen regained their composure and began to push forward once more, with attempts from Smith and Cole both dealt with well by the hard working Crawley defender Francomb.
As the game approached the half hour mark, everything seemed to be going to plan for Sol’s Silkmen. Demetriou was getting involved in everything and Macc looked good in possession, building attack after attack.
The pressure paid off, with a deserved Harry Smith goal on 40 minutes. Sesay made a mess of a short pass for the home side, allowing Koby Arthur to intercept and whip in a tantalising cross.
Smith did well from a difficult position and was able to head down into the far corner from six yards out.
The Silkmen were forced to defend for the remainder of the first half, as the Smith strike seemed to have woken Crawley up. There was much possession but no clear cut chances, other than a weak penalty appeal from Palmer just before the half time whistle.
A yellow card for Michael Rose rounded off the half, but the resulting free kick came to nothing and Macc went in at the break as the deserved leaders.
HALF TIME Crawley 0 Macc 1
With half time scores around League Two displaying mixed results for both teams, the second half was to prove crucial in the search for a victory.
Unfortunately, as was the case against Colchester, Macc were unable to push on and maintain control after the break.
Both teams looked lively following the restart but it was Crawley who started to show some promise, although they could only produce half chances going forward.
Macc defended well and were able to force the home team back, but weren’t able to grab a holdof the game.
Another yellow card was produced for the Silkmen, this time for the busy Demetriou after a foul on Sesay.
The first real chance of the second spell fell to Crawley, after good work from Willock resulted in a shot from 25 yards out. Blocked by Demetriou, the ball fell back to Willock who ran in and went down in the box after a challenge from the Cypriot. The penalty shout was waved away and the young Crawley forward received a yellow card for simulation - much to the relief of the Macc bench and fans.
With the home team continuing to pile on the pressure, they made their first change as midfielder Payne made way for winger Nathaniel-George. Macc continued to defend their slim lead and managed to shape a scrappy chance just after the hour mark, with Arthur being dispossessed following a good run into the box.
Crawley were now dominating the game and Silkmen fans were perhaps starting to feel that the slim lead would not be enough to gain all three points. Sol felt it too and brought on Durrell to replace Arthur.
Any hopes that the returning fan-favourite could bring that much-needed spark were not to be however. A smattering of yellow cards for both teams framed a tense twenty minutes, as Crawley held possession and searched for a way through.
With five minutes remaining of normal time, that way through was realised. Crawley won yet another free kick going forward, which was initially dealt with well by Fitzpatrick. A second block followed before the ball fell to Young, who was given the space to shoot.
O’Hara had the effort covered well but a huge deflection off Kelleher saw the ball drop into the opposite corner, rewarding The Reds’ dominance in the second half.
Six minutes of added time was played out with little In the way of chances from either side, and Macc were forced to settle for their third point in as many games.
FULL TIME Crawley 1 Macc 1.