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.
●● 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