FC Halifax Town 2-1 Macclesfield

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FC Halifax Town are one win away from sealing a play-off place after edging past Macclesfield 2-1 at the Shay.

Macclesfield managed what the likes of Luton, Alfreton, Barnet and Grimsby, amongst others, couldn’t recently and actually scored against the Shaymen as Matt Glennon picked the ball out of his net for the first time in 709 minutes.

But first-half goals from defenders Marc Roberts and Chris Smith proved enough to earn Town their 10th win in 12 games and move them back up to third in the Skrill Premier.

Neil Aspin admitted recent wins at Barnet and Grimsby had been energy-sapping and that perhaps contributed to a workmanlike win set against the dizzyingly high standards of a week ago at the Hive.

But a win at Southport on Easter Monday will now ensure a place in the top-five for the Shaymen, who held out under stern Macclesfield pressure in the second-half to make it now 45 minutes and counting since last conceding.

As expected, Simon Ainge replaced James Bolton while Adam Smith came in for Scott Spencer in the hope of another electrifying home performance.

The early signs were promising, with Lee Gregory’s shot deflected onto the post six minutes in after Matt Pearson took a leaf out of the striker’s book with some excellent hold-up play.

By their elevated standards, it took Town a little while to get into their stride, but it was little surprise when Marc Roberts side-footed them ahead after Chris Smith’s cushioned header.

But that put some extra bounce into Town’s step, so much so that it took just four minutes for Smith to find the net himself with a delightful volley across goal after Paul Marshall’s free-kick.

It already looked a lost cause for Macclesfield, whose away win at Braintree had ended a wretched run of nine games on the road without picking up a single point.

Peter Winn had come close to opening the scoring for the visitors, but 2-0 already seemed a long-way back for them considering Town’s defence has been harder to breach than the vaults at the Bank of England.

The visitors saw another header flash wide, this time by Scott Boden, just as the clock struck 11-and-a-half hours since they last conceded.

That sparked a flurry of chances for the Silkmen, the best of which saw Danny Rowe fire wide after sloppy defending from Town; enough to give Neil Aspin cause for concern on the touchline.

That promising spell for Macclesfield had been enough to quell the Wembley chants from the South Stand that greeted both goals.

The visitors’ response had warranted getting a goal back, which came through Boden after fine approach play Scott Kay found him unmarked in the box.

After 11 hours and 45 minutes without conceding, it seemed a fairly cheap way for that astonishing, possibly never-to-be-repeated run to be ended.

Town could have done with the restoration of their two-goal cushion at the start of the second-half, but Gregory mystifyingly prodded wide after a lovely move culminated in a superb cross by Scott McManus.

Macclesfield’s chief string-puller Danny Whitaker began to see more of the ball as the away side grew in confidence while Town struggled to find their rhythm.

Set-pieces still offered Town’s most likely route to goal, thanks in no small part by Macclesfield’s slack marking, with the unmarked Chris Smith denied by Rhys Taylor from Marshall’s free-kick.

A sublime through-ball by Marshall offered hope of Town reasserting themselves, but McManus shot off target rather than crossing for Gregory.

Macclesfield injected some urgency into their play, encouraged by a few stray Halifax passes, although Taylor saved well from Marshall’s 25-yard drive.

His replacement Marlon Jackson saw a header hooked off the line by Paul Turnbull after a mix-up in the Macclesfield defence as the game edged towards a nervy last few minutes.

It was grit rather than guile that seeing Town edge incrementally closer to victory, with Chris Smith producing a crucial block to deny substitute Jack Mackreth.

Any win would do in the circumstances but it was uncomfortable viewing for the Town fans before a huge cry of relief greeted the final whistle.

Halifax: Glennon, C Smith, Roberts, Ainge, Lowe A Smith (Spencer 46), Maynard, Marshall (Jackson 77), Pearson, McManus, Gregory (Wilson 89). Subs not used: Senior, Crowther.

Scorers: Roberts (18), Smith (22)

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 4

Macclesfield: Taylor, Connor, Williams, Kay (Lewis 83), Andrew, Pilkington, Whitaker, Turnbull, Winn, Boden, Rowe (Mackreth 70). Subs not used: Branagan, Halls.

Scorer: Boden (45)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 7

Attendance: 2,190

Town man of the match: Marc Roberts