Macclesfield got 2019 off to an unbeaten start after Tranmere Rovers held the Silkmen to a 1-1 draw at the Moss Rose.
Ex-Macclesfield striker Connor Jennings broke the deadlock in the first-half for Rovers but the vibrant Koby Arthur tapped home the equaliser just before half-time in an impressive display from the winger.
The second-half was a tightly contested affair but nobody could add to the score-line despite both sides posing threats throughout the ninety minutes.
Sol Campbell made one change from the side that were beaten by Carlisle United on Saturday. Nathan Cameron missed out and Jamie Grimes filled the space vacated by the centre-half.
Last year, the Silkmen pulled away from Tranmere to win the National League in a tense title race and this clash between the two promoted sides started in a similar fashion.
James Norwood had the first chance of the game on five minutes when he twisted and turned before unleashing a shot towards goal, which Kieran O’Hara was equal to.
After the 10-minute mark, the two teams started to settle into the game. O’Hara had to be alert to stop the visitor’s Jay Harris and Jake Caprice from fashioning chances. Whereas, up at the other end of the pitch Tranmere’s back-line also stood firm to clear the danger caused by Callum Maycock and Fiacre Kelleher.
Although, it was Rovers who broke the deadlock. Connor Jennings found the ball at the edge of the box and his low drive found its way into the bottom-right corner with a little help from the post on the way in.
However, Macc were not behind for long. Three minutes from the interval, Ryan Lloyd’s fantastic vision helped him pick out Koby Arthur unmarked at the back post and after the winger dodged a last-ditch challenge from a Tranmere defender, he poked home the equaliser and made sure it was all square at the break.
Sol Campbell tinkered with his side at the break, bringing Miles Welch-Hayes on for James Pearson and he didn’t have to wait long to be involved in the thick of the action.
Just after the re-start Norwood came close again for the visitors after he shot over from a tight angle whereas from further out, Jay Harris’ long-range effort was deflected behind for a corner by Kelleher just minutes after,
After a slow start, Macc began to grow into the game. Goalscorer Arthur came close again on the hour mark but a determined Tranmere defence blocked his shot. Then, three minutes later, Maycock tried his luck but his volley was sent over the crossbar.
Macc continued to knock on Tranmere’s door and fifteen minutes from time they created the best chance of the game.
Ryan Lloyd once again showed his class. He won the ball in midfield before playing another sumptuous ball behind the Rovers’ defence to Scott Wilson. However, the striker couldn’t direct his shot on target and his effort trickled wide of the post.
In the last ten minutes of the ninety both goalkeepers were called into action once again. Firstly, Scott Davies collected a Michael Rose free-kick five minutes from time, whereas Kieran O’Hara collected a Jake Caprice long-range effort.
Macclesfield pushed for a winner, but Sol Campbell’s men saw a resilient Tranmere defence stand firm.
Full Time: Macclesfield 1 Tranmere 1
Macclesfield Starting XI: O’Hara, Fitzpatrick, Kelleher, Grimes, Marsh, Wilson, Lloyd, Maycock, Pearson (Welch-Hayes 45’), Arthur (Napa 86’), Rose
Subs Not Used: Hodgkiss, Lowe, Vincenti, Whitaker, Idem
By Andrew Gate