Macclesfield hold on to hand Michael Clegg winning start as Marine suffer playoff setback

Marine defeat

First-half goals from Babatunde Owolabi and John Rooney proved to be enough for Macclesfield as they beat Marine 2-1.

It was a winning start to Michael Clegg’s tenure as manager with the triumph sending the Silkmen to within two points of the Mariners in the battle for the Northern Premier League playoffs.

Neil Young’s side were forced to rue a sluggish first-half as Owolabi and Rooney gave the hosts a two-goal first-half lead. The visitors, despite all their possession in the second-half, failed to overturn the hosts advantage after halving the deficit on the stroke of half-time.

It was a nightmare start for the visitors as Owolabi lost his marker and poked beyond Bobby Jones after seven minutes. The Silkmen had chances to double their advantage with their best falling to former Marine attacker Neil Kengni but despite catching the Mariners on the counter, he failed to take advantage of their four-on-one situation – blazing over.

Marine offered resistance with Owen Windsor and Wardle going close but failed to keep their efforts down. And before the break, Clegg’s side had their second through Rooney following good play down the left from Kane Drummond.

The Mariners battled back as they looked to overturn their disadvantage and came close through Windsor and Freddie Sass but both times failed to test Joe Hilton. However, on the stroke of half-time, the deficit was reduced after Wardle thrashed an effort into the roof of the net.

Wardle rose highest and forced a superb save from the Blackburn Rovers loanee but he was on hand to power home the rebound. One almost became two for Marine but Tre Pemberton was on hand to head clear as their lead remained intact.

After a disappointing start in the first-half from Marine, they had several chances to find a route back into the game and dominated the second-half proceedings. Macclesfield did have opportunities of their own and left the visitors feeling fortunate going in at the break.

Fin Sinclair-Smith, Bobby Grant and debutant, Jack Bainbridge, all came close with efforts but couldn’t find the back of the net. Bainbridge’s effort in second-half stoppage time their closest after he was in the right place but fired over.

Macclesfield’s only opportunity in the second 45 came from Rooney but on-loan Stockport County goalkeeper Bobby Jones saved well from the free-kick.

Young’s side slip to third following the defeat, after Hyde United’s win, after another impressive showing but fail to overcome one of their playoff rivals. Macclesfield, as a result, move to two points behind with three games in hand.

‘We deserved more from the game’

Marine manager Neil Young told Off The Park: “Feel deflated a little bit, I thought we deserved more for the game. We were good for most parts, unfortunately the parts we weren’t good for was their two goals but the damage is already done.

“It was a little bit like Radcliffe, we more than matched the opposition and we’ve come away one goal to the bad. I’m very pleased with the performance but I can’t keep saying that I’m pleased with the performances when we’re losing to teams around us.

“Two sloppy goals, the first our lads are claiming it’s handball but I don’t know. Second goal is from our corner which is just ridiculous – Josh Wardle has won every header and we decide to take a short corner before he’s gone up the pitch. They go up the other end, great play from Drummond but you can’t have 15 or 20 yards on the touchline and keep dribbling into our box, it has to be stopped at the source.

“That’s the naivety that I’m talking about, he rolls it to John and it’s great goal. From then on, apart from Kengni’s shot, I think it’s been all us. We get a goal back, we missed chance after chance after chance, if you do that and concede goals, it’s not a good recipe for a football match.”

[Featured Image: Susan Nugent]

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