AFC get off to a fine start at Saints

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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.

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