A real hair-raiser
VANARAMA CONFERENCE MACC TOWN .................. 2 ALTRINCHAM ................ 1
IT may have been third time lucky for Macclesfield but their victory over Altrincham came at the expense of thousands of watchers’ fingernails.
Macc had coasted to a two-goal lead but once Altrincham got back into it only a manful rearguard action preserved their three points, courtesy of strikes by Matthew Barnes-Homer and Adriano Moke.
Manager John Askey had rested his captain Paul Turnbull but a threeman midfield of Lee Bell, Paul Lewis and Danny Whitaker ran the opening 45 minutes. But since they never fully capitalised they were left clinging on at the end, with Askey visibly relieved after the ‘hair-raising’ finale.
Altrincham barely made it over the halfway line in a first half dominated by Macc. The only surprise when the half-time whistle blew was that they held only a one-goal lead.
That came from the head of Barnes-Homer, half an hour in. The striker evaded his markers and nodded in a perfectlyflighted cross from Scott Barrow.
Before that point Alty had been holding out – just – as Macc saw Lee Bell drive wide of the mark, keeper Stuart Coburn somehow deny Barrow’s shot on the run and Gianluca Havern turn a fierce effort from Whitaker over the bar.
Whitaker, donning the armband in Turnbull’s absence, had a big hand when Macc did double the lead, four minutes after the restart.
Rowe, Macc’s brightest spark of the night, fed Barnes-Homer, who in turn gave the ball to Whitaker in a criminal amount of space.
Although he could have gone for goal himself he instead opted to lay a perfectly-weighted pass for Moke, who buried his first-time finish without breaking stride.
No one could have predicted just what a turnaround in emphasis that would trigger though.
Moke’s goal – his third of the season – should have been game over but the Robins rallied and halved the lead just after the hour mark, substitute Kyle Perry forcing over the line after Shaun Densmore’s free kick had caused havoc in the box.
That goal signalled a frantic finish, with Alty applying every bit as relentless pressure as they’d been under for the first 50 minutes.
Perry was only denied a second goal by the offside flag as Macc desperately struggled to clear their lines.
James Lawrie, scorer of Alty’s late winner in the first encounter, left his shooting boots at home, sending his openings high and wide and far from handsome, and moments before injury-time Taylor rescued his side with a fine stop to deny Damian Reeves at close quarters after another of Lawrie’s shots fell kindly for him after a block from the streched defence.
And that wasn’t the end of the heart-stopping moments, as Densmore was also thwarted by Tay- lor and Simon Richman’s poor finish went wide.
But Macc somehow held out to take victory and gain some revenge for the two previous defeats to their close rivals.
“In the first half we were terrific and should probably have gone in more than one up,” said Askey afterwards. “At the end we were lucky to hold on to the 2-1 but it’s really pleasing to get the result.
“It’s probably going to be like that until the end of the season. Hopefully they won’t all be as hair-raising as that but I’m sure it’s going to be exciting and nailbiting and I hope we can come out on top.”
Taylor, Cowan, Grant, Pilkington, Barrow, Whitaker, Lewis, Bell, Moke, Barnes-Homer, Rowe (Holroyd 78)
Branagan, Fairhurst, Lavelle-Moore, Thorne.
Coburn, Densmore, Havern, Marshall, Griffin, Lawrie, Williams (Perry 46), Moult, Richman, Crowther (Crowther 78), Reeves.
SUBS NOT USED:
SUBS NOT USED:
●● Matthew Barnes-Homer (above) scored the opener and Adriano Moke (below) the second in Macc’s derby win over Altrincham