A bumper crowd of nearly 4,000 turned out to watch what, despite the scoreline, was a highly entertaining encounter. Macclesfield made two changes with Marsh replacing the injured Elliott Durrell and Jordan Ponticelli coming in instead of Danny Whitaker, who I assume was also on the sick list. The loss of both these players was a big blow to the home side, especially Elliott who has just returned following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Vale, boosted by their highly vocal travelling support who filled the John Askey Terrace and their portion of the Moss Lane Stand, sat eleven points and ten places ahead of their hosts, who themselves were looking to add another three points to those won in the hard fought encounter with Crawley Town the previous weekend.
It was the Silkmen who started confidently and Harry Smith soon had the opportunity to increase his goal tally, but shot straight at Scott Brown. More pressure followed from the home side with Rose pulling the strings in midfield and Pearson and Marsh in particular asking questions of the Vale rear guard. Unfortunately though, far too often the final delivery into the box lacked quality and the Vale defence were easily able to deal with the threat. During this spell it was all Macc and Cameron and Kelleher were allowed plenty of time to bring the ball forward and play out of defence, something which Sol is clearly encouraging the team to do. A well worked corner saw Kelleher’s header blocked as again the Silkmen were denied.
During this period Vale defended doggedly and sought to hit the home side on the break, with Montano and Hannant both looking dangerous as they attempted to link up with Tom Pope. During one brief attacking period from the visitors, Pope went down in the box like the proverbial sack of spuds, claiming a penalty, which was waved away by referee Darren Drysdale, who generally had a good game. Soon afterwards Kay put his shot over when well placed.
There then followed a period of pressure from the home side which should have seen them take the lead. Ryan Lloyd was the architect as he drove down the left and his ball inside found Smith who squared it into the path of Marsh, who should have done better, shooting straight at Brown who turned the ball away for a corner. This was quickly followed by a game changing moment, as a brilliant double save by Brown somehow kept the Silkmen at bay. The instigator this time was Smith whose excellent pass found the marauding Stephens whose strike was saved by Brown, who somehow got to his feet to stop Marsh from converting the rebound.
Half-time: Macclesfield Town 0 Port Vale 0
Clearly Neil Aspin had a few choice words to say at half-time as the Valiants appeared after the break with a new found attitude and pressed higher up the pitch to prevent Macc from playing it out from the back. The visitors proceeded to have the better of the second half, forcing a number of corners though without really forcing O’Hara to make a serious save as his backline blocked efforts by Hannant and Legge. The former had perhaps the best chance for the visitors but fired over from just inside the box as the ball broke to him from a corner. Valiants’ substitute Quigley also went close, as the visitors in general had the better of the second period. The referee was again called upon to adjudicate two further penalty shouts which Vale had, the first of which caused much consternation in the Star Lane End as a cross from the right evaded everyone but struck Pearson on the hand. However,despite the baying hoards behind the goal and the vociferous shouts from the Vale players, he waved play on, to a collective sigh of relief from elsewhere in the ground. The second penalty shout was less clear, as a shot was charged down and the ball appeared to bounce up and strike a defender’s arm. Again the officials ruled in Macc’s favour, though this time there were no complaints from the Vale players.
Macc’s main threat in the second half came down the right with Pearson’s control letting him down at the vital moment after combining well with Marsh. Marsh himself was unable to direct a header goalwards soon afterwards, as both sides strove to break the deadlock. Campbell threw on Wilson in place of Ponticelli, but despite his work rate, Scott was unable to make much impression on the Vale defence. A well worked corner saw Pearson unable to direct his effort towards goal, though Smith had perhaps the best chance for the home side in the second half, but shot just wide as the match ended in stalemate.
There were plenty of positives to be had from the game however as the Silkmen took another small step towards safety, with Notts County and Cambridge United both losing. The defence was again excellent and achieved another clean sheet, with Cameron in particular outstanding as Vale created few clear cut chances in the second half, despite having the lion’s share of possession. The players showed they could mix it physically and also at times played some attractive football, creating several clear cut chances which on another day would have been taken.
Full Time Macclesfield 0 Port Vale 0
crazyjoe’s Scores on the Doors
O’Hara 7 – not a great deal to do, but he looked assured and confident in what he did.
Pearson 8 – I thought he had a good game both defensively and in attack.
Cameron 9 – my MOM. He looks very steady and solid with excellent positional sense. He marshalled the troops well when we were under the cosh second half. He also showed he is good on the ball, being prepared to bring the ball forward and use it constructively. Kept the dangerous Pope in check. PLEASE Sol get him under contract asap.
Kelleher 8 – Another very solid display, he is improving every game alongside Cameron.
Fitz 7.5 – solid defensively and some good moments going forward.
Marsh 6 – tried hard, but finds it difficult out wide to beat a man. Had perhaps our two best chances and certainly should have done better with the rebound from Stephens’ shot.
Rose 7 – an excellent first half as Macc dominated but less effective after half-time, though his work rate and fitness have both improved.
Stephens 7 – another all action performance, he certainly covers some ground. Should have done better though when Smith put him through one on one.
Lloyd 6.5 – a better game from Ryan and I expect he will continue to improve in the coming weeks as his fitness level increases. Linked up well with Fitz on occasion and was the architect of one of our best goal scoring opportunities in the first half.
Ponticelli 6 – another hard working performance from Jordan, though he didn’t have the same influence on the game as he did against Crawley. Possibly another who is still lacking in fitness due to his spell out injured and I feel his overall performance and consistency will improve with game time.
Smith 6.5 – one early chance that forced a save from Brown and had the last word in the second half with a strike which was off target. Put himself around and showed his bravery after sustaining a bad cut following a clash of heads. Suffered from having his namesake from Vale hanging onto his shirt for much of the second half, unseen by the officials. The good thing however is that he is prepared to take responsibility and have a go at goal, which is I feel due to his new found confidence.
Wilson 5.5 – plenty of effort from Scott but no real end product, though in fairness he entered the game with Vale in the ascendancy.