UNITED’s opening match of the 2016-17 National League season ended in defeat against a strong Macclesfield Town side.
Macclesfield midfielder Ollie Norburn struck in the 24th minute, and forward Chris Holroyd doubled the Silkmen's advantage in the 65th minute to earn all three points and force United to leave Cheshire pointless.
Player-manager Kevin Nicholson picked an experienced first eleven to take on the Silkmen. Jamie Robba missed out on the matchday squad because the club is still waiting for International clearance. Midfielder Sam Chaney had to settle for a seat on the bench. Nathan Blissett and Brett Williams continued their burgeoning strike partnership up front.
Macclesfield made the early running but without creating a clear-cut chance. Brendan Moore was called into action a few times without being in too much peril. However, the momentum was certainly with the Silkmen.
Macclesfield then went close to scoring three times before taking the lead. Jack Sampson, Jack Mackreth, and Danny Whittaker all forced Brendan Moore into action. Whittaker’s chance was the most spectacular. He bent the ball just wide of the far post.
Macclesfield took the lead in the 24th minute. Danny Rowe found space out wide and his cross was converted first time by Ollie Norburn. It was a classy strike, but one that United might have prevented had their marking been tighter.
United responded immediately with their best, and only chance of the first half. Williams turned provider for Dan Sparkes to test Macclesfield goalkeeper Craig Ross. Ross pulled off an impressive save, and that was that from United in the first half.
Winger Mackreth was a busy presence throughout the first half and was at the centre of everything Macclesfield tried to do.
Both sides looked like they were starting their first games of the season. There were few chances for either team, and United headed into the half-time break desperate to put things right.
United improved after the half-time break but chances were still hard to come by. The flow of the game never turned United’s way although a small improvement was noticeable.
Macclesfield scored their second in the 65th minute.
Chris Holroyd found space and time just inside United’s box. He didn’t strike the ball cleanly, and that helped his cause as the ball ballooned over Brendan Moore and went in off the bar.
After conceding their second goal United improved. Jamie Reid, Sam Chaney, and Nathan Blissett offered more, and carved some dangerous moments, but without any real conviction. Reid in particular took it upon himself to try and almost bulldoze through the Silkmen’s defence at points.
United couldn’t find a way through, and will be disappointed with the few chances they managed throughout the ninety minutes.
Kevin Nicholson will look for his squad to respond immediately at Tuesday night’s first home game of the season against Bromley.