Mark Kennedy’s first win as head coach of Macclesfield Town came in dramatic fashion with an important win over promotion hopefuls Forest Green Rovers.
Macc fell behind early on but an eventful second half comeback which included a red card and a penalty save was wrapped up by a Arthur Gnahoua wonder strike.
The Silkmen started slowly and the first test for Mitchell came early on in the 4th minute, Josh March broke free from the Macc defence and forced the ‘keeper into a good low save.
Both teams started with an intent to attack, which created a very fluid and open game. FGR had the bulk of the early chances with Josh March and Ebou Adams both going close in the early stages.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the deadlock was broken and rather deservedly by FGR. With space and time on the edge of the box, midfielder Carl Winchester unleashed a precise shot into the left corner of the net, giving Mitchell very little chance.
Macc were in danger of being two goals behind just shortly afterwards. With Kelleher pushed up, FGR exploited space in behind to release Jevani Brown to put him one-on-one with Mitchell. However, with the whole of the goal to aim for, he side footed his shot wide of the post where he should’ve at least hit the target.
As the game approached half time, the football became scrappy and the openness of the match soon disappeared. Macc struggled to string together passes and carve open the FGR back line despite seeing more of the ball.
The Silkmen went into the break behind and again it looked like they would be further behind just a minute after the restart. Corey O’Keeffe tripped March in the area and referee Coy pointed to the spot. March stepped up to take it, but the heroics of Mitchell kept Macc in the game as he parried the powerful penalty away to safety.
The penalty save seemed to rejuvenate Macc as they began to limit the amount of chances FGR could create, however that final touch of quality was still lacking for the Silkmen.
However with 20 minutes to play, the visitors would get the next big chance of the game. Farrend Rawson rose highest from a corner to head the ball goalwards, but Macc escaped with a smart goalline clearance from Corey O’Keeffe.
The finishing touch had been lacking for most of the game but in the 74th minute, that moment of magic came from Joe Ironside. Following good link up play between himself and Ben Stephens, the ball wriggled its way to Ironside who battled off his marker and finished expertly into the bottom corner.
With FGR slipping out of the game, it was Mark Kennedy’s side who were looking for the winner. However, with ten minutes to play, FGR substitute Aaron Collins raced through on goal with O’Keeffe trailing just behind. The young defender took one for his team and brought down Collins before he reached the penalty area, and he duly received his marching orders.
The drama wasn’t going to stop there. Macc completed the sensational comeback in the most incredible of fashions. The ball bounced its way to the centre of the pitch and with no second thought, Arthur Gnahoua smashed his volley over the head of Logan from 30 yards out to put Macc in the lead!
Macc came under intense pressure as the visitors looked to make the extra man count, but Mitchell showed no signs of being beaten again. The stopper continued a sensational performance with strong saves from Collins and Matty Stevens late on to wrap up a crucial first three points for Mark Kennedy.
Macclesfield Town; Mitchell, Kelleher, Gnahoua, Harris (Osadebe ’60), Ironside, Archibald, Kirby (Stephens ’70), Horsfall, O’Keeffe, Whitehead, Fitzpatrick.
Subs: Charles-Cook, Blyth, Rose, Cameron.
Attendance: 1,653 (158 visitors)