Ritchie can’t

Macclesfield Express - - SPORT - VA­NARAMA NA­TIONAL LEAGUE CON­NOR HUT­TON

MAC­CLES­FIELD Town fought hard on their trav­els to Eastleigh’s Silverlake Sta­dium but their ef­forts were not re­warded as the Spitfires claimed a 1-0 vic­tory.

Both sides gave 100 per cent com­mit­ment in the back-and-forth af­fair, none more so than the Silk­men keeper Ritchie Brana­gan who stepped in for the in­jured Sh­wan Jalal and pro­vided a man of the match per­for­mance.

How­ever, Brana­gan was left help­less as Ross Lafayette met a cross at the near post to break the dead­lock. De­spite Macc’s best ef­forts, they were un­able to cre­ate an equaliser.

Nei­ther side was able to grab an early foothold in the game, but af­ter five min­utes Eastleigh pro­duced the first chance.

Neill Byrne was caught in pos­ses­sion by James Con­sta­ble, how­ever he was un­able to make the most of the op­por­tu­nity and Paul Turnbull cleared for a cor­ner.

The Mac­cles­field keeper was kept on his toes fol­low­ing the first chance. Dan Hard­ings’ pass found Con­sta­ble, but his shot ric­o­cheted off Brana­gan onto the wood­work and out for another cor­ner.

It took 16 min­utes for the trav­el­ling Silk­men to cre­ate any ac­tion in the op­po­si­tion’s half. Andy Halls lofted a free kick into the box and the ball fell into Paul Lewis’ path, but be­fore he could fire off a shot, Paul Reid ap­peared to jump onto the ball.

Askey’s men called for an in­di­rect free-kick, but the ref­eree turned away. The ac­tion cooled off un­til Jack Mid­son cut through the Macc de­fence in the 32nd minute but the de­fend­ers cleared.

Eastleigh were then straight onto the back foot, forc­ing Jamie Truly to give up a cor­ner for the home side. Af­ter a manic scram­ble in the box, Eastleigh man­aged to clear their lines.

A few mo­ments of panic nearly saw the home side take the lead as Halls was caught in pos­ses­sion twice by the op­po­si­tion strik­ers, but both Tony Di­agne and Ge­orge Pilk­ing­ton were on-hand to make last minute chal­lenges.

Andy Drury then con­nected with a half-volley from 20 yards and it ap­peared to be ar­row­ing into the top left hand cor­ner, but Brana­gan was equal to it and the game re­mained goal­less at half time.

Danny Whi­taker came close to giv­ing the Silk­men a 1-0 lead two min­utes into the sec­ond half when Joe Part­ing­ton slipped in the box, but Whi­taker’s strike de­flected away and Jack Samp­son flashed a header wide from the re­sult­ing cor­ner.

Macc’s keeper was called into shot-stop­ping ac­tion yet again when Lafayette latched onto Part­ing­ton’s drilled cross, yet Brana­gan’s re­flexes some­how kept the ball out from close range.

Danny Rowe was sub­sti­tuted on for Jack Samp­son with 61 min­utes played and he nearly as­sisted the open­ing goal af­ter he found Kris­tian Dennis from the left flank, how­ever the for­ward’s low shot flew past the far post.

Eastleigh then at­tacked down the right hand side again with Jack Mid­son skip­ping past Di­agne and cross­ing for Lafayette. He headed past Brana­gan to give his team the lead.

The goal seemed to suck the wind right out of the Mac­cles­field play­ers, as they showed few signs of find­ing a way back into the game. Rowe sliced a set piece wide be­fore Byrne’s header was saved with ease.

Macc’s last chance for an equal­is­ing goal came when Halls floated a hope­ful cross into Paul Lewis in stop­page time, but the keeper was alert to col­lect it quickly.

Eastleigh held out for all three points and the Silk­men now go into the game against Ch­ester this week­end hop­ing to end a twogame los­ing run.

Matt Rat­cliffe

●● Danny Whi­taker al­most gave Mac­cles­field the lead at Eastleigh

●● Ritchie Brana­gan pro­duced a man of the match per­for­mance for Mac­cles­field de­spite the 1-0 loss

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