For the second time this season the Silkmen were denied the points in time added on as Swindon’s late smash and grab saw all three points disappearing back to Wiltshire. The match seemed to be heading for a stalemate and a share of the spoils was probably what both sides deserved, especially the injury ravaged Silkmen who remained without Durrell, Whitaker, Stephens, Evans and Pearson.
With Smith still serving out his suspension it was the in form Wilson who led the line supported by Marsh, with Arthur and Lloyd flanking Rose and Maycock in the engine room. At the back the Silkmen welcomed back Cameron, who was playing with a heavily strapped thigh, to partner Kelleher in the heart of the defence with Hodgkiss continuing in place of Pearson at right back.
It was the Silkmen who made the early running, with Arthur prominent, though without really looking dangerous in front of goal and it was Swindon who had the first meaningful opportunity. Woolery’s shot was blocked and fell to right back Knoyle whose superb trickery found him a yard of space inside the box. His curled shot beat O’Hara, but fortunately for the home side it clipped the bar and went over.
Soon afterwards, it was the Silkmen who broke the deadlock. Not for the first time in what was quite a physical encounter, Arthur was chopped down as he made progress down the right. From the resultant free-kick, Rose’s sweet left foot found Marsh, who volleyed first time past Vigouroux to give the Silkmen the lead. Soon afterwards the Swindon keeper made a hash of a clearance giving Wilson the chance to double the lead, but his lob was off target. Further Macc pressure saw Wilson’s near post effort drift just wide as the Silkmen strove to put distance between themselves and their visitors.
Swindon remained dangerous on the break with Woolery and Twine in particular causing consternation amongst the Silkmen ranks, who with Cameron again commanding at the back, held firm. It was Woolery again who came closest to equalising when he cut inside from the right and delivered a curling strike which O’Hara pushed over, with the unmarked Anderson venting his frustration to his colleague that he hadn’t squared it to him instead.
A further period of pressure from the Robins brought about the equaliser. Rose was unluckily penalised for handball having jumped with his back turned to block a cross and from the resulting free-kick by McCourt, ex-Port vale striker and Robins captain Marc Richards headed home from about five yards out. There was much debate in Star Lane as to whether O’Hara should have come for the cross but in fairness to the keeper the ball in was excellent.
It was, following their goal, Swindon who ended the first half in the ascendency, on loan midfielder Carroll coming closest with a 25 yard strike which fizzed just past the post with O’Hara scrambling across his goal. Despite this, half-time was reached with honours even.
Half-Time: Macclesfield Town 1 Swindon Town 1
The second half proved to be a major arm wrestle with the physicality of the game becoming more pronounced. The officials were kept very busy with a series of free-kicks and yellow cards, which broke up the pattern of play for both sides though Swindon were the main culprits with five yellows to Macc’s one. As the half progressed it was Swindon who looked the most likely to break the deadlock with O’Hara being called into action to first defy Anderson and then to push another strike from Woolery over the bar. The Silkmen had their moments too with Rose’s teasing cross in just evading both Marsh and the far post.
Both sides made changes, Welch-Hayes replacing the injured Lloyd for the Silkmen and McGlashan and House replacing Richards and Twine for the Robins. With the 4th official showing 4 minutes of added time and a draw seeming inevitable, it was the Silkmen who threw everyone forward to meet a Rose free-kick in the hope of snatching the winner. Unfortunately, not for the first time, the delivery lacked quality and was quickly cleared to McGlashan who raced down the wing like a greyhound out of the traps before delivering a pinpoint far post cross to fellow substitute House. House controlled the ball and laid it into the path of the onrushing McCourt who stroked the ball past O’Hara to steal the points with another injury time winner.
In fairness to the Silkmen they battled hard, though the wafer thin squad clearly found two games in five days physically demanding and whilst most of the players gave their all, the intensity noticeably dropped off in the final quarter as legs tired.
Full Time: Macclesfield Town 1 Swindon Town 2
crazyjoe’s scores on the doors
O’Hara 7 – three excellent saves, though a question mark for me over whether he should have come for the ball for Richards’ goal.
Hodgkiss 5.5 – some good interceptions, though his distribution at times was wayward and he was caught in possession more than once.
Kelleher 6 – defended well but another whose distribution from the back was poor.
Cameron 9 – absolute class, some great interceptions and his reading of the game is excellent at this level. My MOM.
Fitz 6 – Dave was fairly solid in defence though was not as effective in attack as usual.
Arthur 6 – some good touches in the first half, though not as effective after half-time.
Rose 6.5 – a great pinpoint cross to set up Marsh and came closest to scoring after the break. However his usual pinpoint accuracy in both his passing and set piece delivery was too often missing.
Maycock 6 – worked hard all game and did some good things especially first half but seemed to run out of steam in the second period.
Lloyd 6 – another who worked hard without really reaching his level of capability. Looked a nasty injury, I hope he’ll be fit for next week.
Marsh 7 – took his goal well and worked hard throughout. Was within an ace of doubling his and the Silkmen’s tally when he couldn’t connect with Rose’s cross.
Wilson 6 – worked hard as well. Had a golden opportunity to capitalise on a mistake by the Swindon keeper but failed to hit the target.
Welch-Hayes 5 – played out of position on the right but did his best.
Vincenti – not on long enough to rate.