Macclesfield Town 1
TWO questionable decisions ultimately inflicted another defeat on United and a desperately frustrating day for the Yellow Army.
The arrival of new Head Coach Gary Owers has breathed life into a squad painfully low on confidence, but a very strange call from referee Gary Parsons denied the Gulls a certain red card for the visiting goalkeeper early in the game.
It was a reprieve that became hugely important five minutes into the second-half, when the second bad decision from the boot of Myles Anderson gifted Scott Wilson with the only goal of an infuriating day.
Owers introduced himself to the Plainmoor public with a starting line-up that showed two enforced changes from the team denied a win at Barrow last weekend after a stoppage-time equaliser.
George Dowling and Jon-Paul Pittman both limped off injured at Holker Street, and remain unavailable, so new loan signing Rhys Murphy made his debut in attack and Jennison Myrie-Williams was given a first start on the wing. The bench contained Josh McQuoid, who arrived on loan from Luton just 24 hours before kick-off, and Liam Davis on the road back from injury.
Macclesfield were a side licking their wounds following a 4-1 home loss to Maidstone seven days ago and the familiar faces in their line-up included right-back Jared Hodgkiss, who enjoyed a brief loan spell at TQ1 last season, and former United striker Tyrone Marsh was on the visiting bench.
The first mini opening of a tight start stemmed from good work by Jamie Reid on the right, feeding the ball inside to Murphy, who immediately found Myrie-Williams but his final shot was way off target after cutting inside on to his favoured left-foot.
A moment of major controversy arrived on 12 minutes, when Luke Young threaded a lovely pass to James Gray, who was instantly confronted by goalkeeper Shwan Jalal miles outside his area. Gray poked the ball past the out of position custodian and then tumbled over the ragged challenge.
Referee Gary Parsons looked at the incident, which can only have led to a red card for the goalkeeper, and opted to make no decision at all, leaving two questions: why would Gray deliberately fall over with an empty in which to score and, if it was a dive, why was Gray not booked?
Nobody wants to bleat about decisions because these things should follow the old cliché and even out over the course of the season, but this one certainly warranted some sort of explanation after the game.
On matters the players can control, it remained a quiet encounter with impressive solidity in the United unit but a lack of cohesion in attacking areas. Myrie-Williams looked the likeliest spark, with one weaving run just falling at the final hurdle after a good challenge from Hodgkiss.
The visitors almost conjured a scrappy opening for Scott Wilson, who was inches away from getting a touch on Danny Whitaker’s scuffed shot, but Vincent Dorel was mercifully allowed to continue his sedate afternoon between the sticks.
From nowhere, United pieced together a slick move in the midfield area, providing the room for Murphy to turn sharply and fizz a decent drive narrowly over Jalal’s crossbar. Moments later, a loose pass from Sean McGinty prompted mayhem in the home box and Dorel kept the scores level with a superb reflex save with his feet following a deflected drive.
The final action of the half was another flash of excellence from Dorel, expertly turning over a rising drive from Ryan Lloyd after the ball had run loose in the left channel of United’s area.
Owers shuffled his pack at the interval, introducing McQuoid for Gray and shifting Reid into a central role. The second period was just two minutes old when a delicious corner from Young was forced goalward by Anderson but Jalal palmed the ball to safety.
Sadly for Anderson, his next involvement proved disastrous, as a woefully under-hit backpass was easy for Wilson to intercept and skip round the stranded Dorel before slipping the ball into a gaping net.
It was a horrible moment for Anderson and United, as a team suffering from understandably fragile confidence were forced to rebuild momentum and belief. The chance for swift redemption fell to Gowling four minutes later but he failed to properly connect with another vicious cross from Young.
United were responding in the right way and a marauding run from Efete led to a cross by Myrie-Williams, laid back for Murphy but he missed his kick. The ball was quickly recycled and a free-kick on the right was quickly taken for McQuoid to steer a clever effort inches wide from a tight angle.
Macclesfield came back with a corner of their own and Dorel did well to hold a low effort from Wilson, but the lively McQuoid quickly conjured a wonderful cross at the other end and Reid’s poked effort just tipped wide by Jalal.
The door was slowly creaking open and Reid was finding much more room down the middle, this time latching on to a low pass from Young and his rising drive toward the near post needed a good save from Jalal.
It was not a United siege, however, and the Silkmen maintained their threat at the other end with a swerving drive from the dangerous Elliott Durrell almost deceived Dorel before being awkwardly turned over the bar.
Owers decided the time was right for a double change, withdrawing Myrie-Williams and Murphy for Ryan Higgins and Ruairi Keating. Macclesfield then replaced Wilson with Marsh and Durrell with Scott Burgess.
The disruption worked in favour of the visitors and United were struggling to muster another threat. The effort was genuine but nothing, absolutely nothing, is going United’s way on the pitch at present.
A situation summed up by Anderson’s header tipped over in the dying seconds to complete a Macclesfield victory.
United (4-2-3-1): 30 Vincent Dorel; 2 Michee Efete, 6 Josh Gowling (capt), 5 Sean McGinty, 14 Myles Anderson; 8 Luke Young, 12 Callum Evans; 27 Jennison Myrie-Williams (23 Ryan Higgins 76), 17 James Gray (13 Josh McQuoid H-T), 19 Jamie Reid; 39 Rhys Murphy (10 Ruairi Keating 76). Substitutes (not used): 3 Liam Davis, 20 Neal Osborn.
Booked: McGinty 87
Macclesfield (4-5-1): 1 Shwan Jalal; 2 Jared Hodgkiss (capt), 4 Keith Lowe, 5 George Pilkington, 3 David Fitzpatrick; 7 Elliott Durrell (20 Scott Burgess 81), 18 Danny Whitehead, 23 Danny Whitaker (15 Kieran Kennedy 90), 11 Ryan Lloyd, 16 Mitch Hancox; 9 Scott Wilson (8 Tyrone Marsh 80). Substitutes (not used): 14 Noe Baba, 22 Koby Arthur.
Referee: Gary Parsons
Attendance:1,835 (84 Away)