Macclesfield Town U21s were knocked out of the League Challenge Cup after Jordan Deer’s late penalty completed a 10-minute comeback for Tranmere Rovers U21s.
The opening stages of the game saw both teams playing with intensity, as they looked to get an early goal.
There were shouts for a penalty just six minutes in, after Amadou Doumbia beat two Tranmere players on the left-hand side. His subsequent cross bounced up onto the arm of a Tranmere defender, but Callum Aris waved away Macclesfield’s protests.
Amadou Doumbia was the main danger man on the left-hand side for Macc with his energetic running early on.
Rocco Fregapane then had to be substituted off at left-back for Amin Ahmed on the 20-minute mark through injury.
The next chance came after some neat inter-play down the right-hand side allowed Liam Ellis the space to deliver a cross 22 minutes in. The clearance was controlled by Riche Makelele just outside the box and driven towards goal, but Josh Brooks was on hand to save the powerful effort.
The game quietened down over the next twenty minutes. However, a flurry of chances on the verge of halftime would ensue.
The first came 43 minutes in after Dan Richman floated an inch-perfect cross to Lochlen Pate, who fired the ball against the crossbar from six yards out.
Macc overcame that scare and surged down to the other end - led by Amadou Doumbia, who curled a delightful cross into Liam Ellis, but his shot drifted narrowly wide.
From this, Tranmere created one of the best chances of the game. Another cross came in for the on-rushing Lochlen Pate who stretched to meet it but turned the ball over from four yards out.
Half-time saw Macclesfield make their second substitution with Zak Butterworth replacing Ali Ezzadine at right back.
Butterworth almost made an immediate impact in the second half after he clipped a ball down the channel into Joe Cobey, who tried dinking the ball over the on-rushing Josh Brooks, but his effort bounced narrowly wide.
Macc continued to apply the pressure. Amin Ahmed, a conventional winger filling in at left-back, raced forward and beat two Tranmere defenders, forcing a solid save from Josh Brooks.
Macclesfield Town’s persistence paid off on 55 minutes. Joe Cobey picked the ball up on the right flank, dribbled past two Tranmere defenders and fizzed in a powerful shot towards goal. The shot was parried into the path of Riche Makelele who finished it off to make it one-nil.
Sean Scully replaced Joe Cobey five minutes later to provide some fresh legs for Macc up front.
Despite Macclesfield’s hard work, Tranmere Rovers U21s would find an equaliser on 74 minutes.
Kole Wheele, who had come off the bench, saw the ball fall to him in the box and finished with ease to draw the scores level.
Tranmere Rovers U21s dominated the last fifteen minutes of the game as they looked to find a winner. Riccardo Longato denied the visiting side on 77 minutes with a fantastic stretching save.
The subsequent corner saw Tynaek McCallum’s header bounce inches wide of the post for a goal kick.
With just seven minutes of the game remaining, the visiting side would complete their 10-minute comeback.
Pierre Loic, who was a commanding presence all afternoon, brought down a Tranmere forward inside the box. The referee showed no hesitation in pointing straight to the penalty spot.
Jordan Deer stepped up and converted with a calm finish into the bottom left hand corner, sending Riccardo Longato the wrong way.
Macc were unable to muster the energy to push for a comeback in the final minutes and the game finished 2-1 to the visitors - meaning they progress to the next round of the League Challenge Cup.
The disappointment on the faces of this young Macclesfield Town side was evident at full-time. Despite the defeat, the level of performance and hard work was clear to see and is definitely a positive for the players to take into upcoming fixtures.
Paul McGuire made it clear in the dressing room after the game that the players gave it their all and reassured them that they were much better as a collective unit.
Macclesfield Town U21s: Longato (GK), Ezzadine, Fregapane, Loic, Dolling (C), Holford, Ellis, Holland, Cobey, Makelele, Doumbia.
Substitutes: Scully, Butterworth, Ahmed.