AFC get off to a fine start at Saints
CHESHIRE FOOTBALL LEAGUE TWO FC ST HELENS ..............1 AFC MACCLESFIELD ..3
AFC Macclesfield got their season off to a great start after picking up a victory at FC St Helens in the Cheshire Football League Two.
New signing James Wheeler showed promise when linking up with fellow midfielders Sam Williamson and Jordan Gregory, whilst Lee Malkin and Greg Mathers, playing in a slightly withdrawn role, carried a threat up front.
Malkin had the game’s first chance with a decent effort well saved by the St Helens goalkeeper. Despite Macclesfield looking relatively comfortable, it would be the hosts that took the lead.
The ball was given away high up the field, from there the home team produced a lightning-quick counter attack that led to a one-on-one opportunity finished coolly by their striker, leaving Dom Chell in the Macc goal with no chance.
Macclesfield recovered well from this early setback, and the midfield began to dominate proceedings, with some excellent movement and quick interchanges between the four players.
The Macc equaliser came from a slightly more direct source.
A perfectly judged cross-field ball by debutant centre-half Jordan Hitchen was brought under control by Williamson on the right flank.
Despite being a long way away from goal, he was clumsily bundled over by the St Helens centre-back just inside the penalty area, leaving referee Graham Newton with an easy decision to make.
While Jordan Gregory may have been on penalty duties in pre-season, new club captain and last season’s top scorer Mathers seized the ball and the responsibility. His penalty was struck hard and true, and flew past the home goalkeeper before he could move.
The equaliser seemed to have a detrimental effect on St Helens’ play, and Mathers was able to press and seize the ball high up the pitch.
Strike partner Malkin made a run outside, and with the space that was created, Mathers hammered the ball into the corner of the net from outside the area.
The first-half had almost ended when disaster struck. Impressive new signing Wheeler pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Jack Banister, meaning a change in shape for the team.
The second half continued in a relatively similar vein to the first.
AFC Macclesfield had most of the ball in dangerous areas yet struggled to create many clear cut chances.
Attempts by Banister and Malkin’s replacement Harry Wheetman were well saved, before good work by Sam Williamson on his favoured left side, played in Chris Allen, allowed him to smash a right-footed finish into the top corner.
St Helens had a number of opportunities late on but they couldn’t take them, with Macc running out 3-1 winners in their opening match of the season.