FA TROPHY SEMI-FINAL FIRST LEG MACCLESFIELD .............. 1 TRANMERE ROVERS ..... 1
THE cup dream is still alive for Macclesfield Town, as they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Tranmere Rovers in the first leg of the FA Trophy semi-finals.
Ollie Norburn’s second half strike cancelled out Tranmere’s early goal and ensured that the Silkmen visit Prenton Park on level pegging with their opponents, who might feel fortunate to have left Moss Rose with a draw.
Town manager John Askey named an unchanged team from their 2-0 win over Dulwich Hamlet, but saw his side get off to the worst possible start in front of a crowd of 2,358.
In the opening minute, Neill Byrne was adjudged to have brought down James Norwood in the box and referee Peter Wright had no doubts in pointing to the spot, much to the delight of the 903 travelling fans.
Lee Hughes stepped up and although his spot kick hit the inside of the lefthand post, it looped into the net to give Rovers a very early lead.
The visitors dominated the opening period as Macclesfield recovered from the blow of the early goal, and a cross from the left saw Adam Buxton’s effort cleared by George Pilkington.
However, Town began to find a foothold in the game, and were unlucky not to see themselves level on ten minutes.
David Fitzpatrick’s cross was headed onto the underside of the bar by Rovers defender Steve McNulty and referee Wright decided that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
As the 20-minute mark approached the Silkmen began to dominate possession and the Tranmere defence had to be resolute to repel a series of crosses and corners which peppered their box.
Macclesfield too had to be wary as Tranmere themselves threatened, Norwood heading over from a narrow angle following a cross from deep which evaded the heads of the Silkmen defenders.
Ten minutes before half time, Kingsley James slipped a ball through to Chris Holroyd and his effort from a narrow angle dipped under Rovers keeper Scott Davies, but was cleared as it rolled toward the goal.
The half ended in feisty fashion with three yellow cards shown in as many minutes, all for separate incidents.
Tranmere’s Michael Ihiekwi was first in the book for a trip on the right wing, Andy Halls joined him a minute later for a rash challenge in midfield and Steve Jennings earned his for a high boot on Luke Summerfield as tempers threatened to boil over.
The second half began in less dramatic fashion than the first, neither side finding the time or space to settle on the ball to create any meaningful chances.
Mitch Hancox had the first effort after 53 minutes, his curling effort beating both keeper and post as it drifted just wide of the left hand upright.
Tranmere threatened with a low effort from former Macclesfield loanee Connor Jennings, but just minutes later the Silkmen grabbed the goal they deserved.
A long ball into the Rovers box wasn’t cleared and the ricochet fell to the feet of Ollie Norburn, who slid the ball under Davies from 12 yards to level the scores, his fourth goal of the season.
Tranmere could have taken the lead on the hour mark had it not been for Town keeper Flinders, who made a smart save to deny Norwood, having broken through one-onone.
The final twenty minutes saw both sets of players seemingly tire on a well-worn pitch, and
Rhys Browne is blocked off by Michael Ihiekwe
Kingsley James gets in a cross
Ollie Norburn celebrates