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Macclesfield 2 Grimsby 1
By: Kevin Dolan
GRIMSBY Townâ€™s winning run finally came to an end in a disappointing defeat at Macclesfield. A lacklustre first half saw The Mariners fall 2-0 behind and despite a much improved 2nd half performance, Gary Jones sixth goal of the season proved to be only a consolation.
Town again started with a 4-5-1 formation. As expected Danny North replaced the departed Martin Paterson in the lone role up front, but Gary Croft also came into midfield at the expense of Danny Boshell who missed out through illness.
Macclesfield started far the better side, with the first few minutes being spent entirely in the Town third, and took the lead after only four minutes. The Silkmen won a free kick out on the left, which was swung in and volleyed over. With all the players beginning to move up field, attention was shifted to the referee who had awarded a penalty despite no appeals from the home side. Amongst the Town protests, the official demonstrated that Whittle had been pulling the shirt of a home player. Kevin McIntyre stepped up and scored his eighth penalty of the season with a superbly taken spot kick into the top left corner. 1-0
Town didn't respond and were barely an attacking force in the first half at all. The only attacking note was when North ran through and coolly lobbed Tommy Lee in the Macclesfield goal although the offside had already been raised.
With the home side still looking the better side, they doubled their lead. A long throw from the right was flicked on to Colin Heath, who audaciously yet exceptionally scissor kicked into the net from 10 yards giving Barnes no chance. 2-0
As in other recent games, Buckley decided the system wasn't working and made an early substitution, replacing the struggling Croft for Gary Jones who then supported the isolated North in an orthodox 4-4-2. The rest of the first half was a drab affair with the home side content with their lead and Town unable to get going at all.
Town wouldâ€™ve expectedly had a stern word at half time and came out with much more purpose in the 2nd half. Toner and Newey began to have much more impact down the left side, but it took Town 10 minutes to get a shot on target when Fentonâ€™s hooked effort was saved and held with North waiting for a rebound. Minutes later North scuffed a difficult volley straight at the keeper.
Macclesfield were playing purely on the break now, but did have a chance to settle the game when Bullock played Tipton through only for Barnes to pull off a tremendous save low to his right. The save looked to have gained more importance when with 17 minutes to go, Town pulled a goal back. Jones received the ball on the edge of the area and tried to play North through. The ball was too long for North, but became ideal for the overlapping James Hunt who hit the by-line, pulled the ball back behind North, but straight in to Jonesâ€™ path. Last seasonâ€™s top scorer easily stabbed home from 6 yards. 2-1
The Mariners did have a fair amount of time to create an equaliser, but unfortunately never came close. A few free kicks in good positions were wasted with poor delivery and the best effort of the last 15 minutes was when Whittle, who played the last few minutes in attack, broke through on the left and fired over the angle. At the other end Macclesfield broke and contrived to make a mess of consecutive chances to seal the game.
In truth, Town can have no complaints about the defeat and with results elsewhere generally favourable, one that was not as costly as couldâ€™ve been. Starting on the backfoot, The Mariners made a sloppy opening and gave Macclesfield the incentive straight from the start with which they comfortably gained a 2-0 lead without much resistance. Luckily Town were only 2-0 at the break and could make fist of it in the 2nd half.
Macclesfield were never going to be easy opposition although they appeared very nervy and had no ambition once 2-0 ahead with subtle timewasting during the 2nd half. The central defensive pair of Danny Swailes and David Morley were dominant in the air throughout the afternoon and Townâ€™s insistence on hitting Jones or North was significantly less fruitful than when they tried to play through them.
Despite North having a decent game, the departure of Martin Paterson may require a serious rethink of the 4-5-1. The alternative supplied by Jones and also his goal would suggest he is likely to regain his place in the team. It was almost impossible to call Townâ€™s man of the match as no-one played above average; Barnes had no chance with either goal and made a couple of good saves, North worked hard, Jones helped change the game in Townâ€™s favour whilst Newey and Toner linked up well down the more effective left side.
After such resurgence in recent weeks, it is shame that Town lost their winning run in such tame fashion. Hopefully this will be used as a wake up call that there is still work to be done to guarantee league status.
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