Macclesfield Town 0 - 1 Grimsby TownGRIMSBY Town became the first team to win at Macclesfield Town this season as they earned a huge three points at the Moss Rose.
A single, early goal from Jack Mackreth on his first return to the Cheshire side proved enough as Town held firm to add to their collection of impressive victories on the road this season.
Macclesfield put plenty of pressure on the Town defence but they were unable to break through, meaning the Mariners closed the gap to their opponents to one point and made it two wins out of two over the Christmas period.
One change was made to the Town XI from the victory against Forest Green Rovers last time out, with Aswad Thomas coming in for Carl Magnay, who missed out through illness, at left-back.
Otherwise, it was as you were, with James McKeown in goal behind a back four of Daniel Parslow, Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Thomas.
Mackreth played against Macclesfield for the first time after leaving to sign for the Mariners in the summer. He lined up on the right side of midfield, with Craig Disley, Scott Brown and Nathan Arnold completing the quartet.
Jon-Paul Pittman and Lenell John-Lewis were again named as the strike partnership, with Paul Bignot, Ross Hannah, Scott Neilson, Craig Clay and Paddy McLaughlin kept in reserve on the bench.
Macclesfield were yet to lose at home this season and were looking to maintain the run that that seen them start the day in second place, two points clear of Bristol Rovers and four ahead of fourth-placed Town.
An early Macclesfield corner was headed away by Parslow, before Chris Holroyd headed wide after a return cross came in.
Waide Fairhurst also missed the target in the early stages of the game, firing a shot over the bar after getting the ball from Dan Whitaker.
Town’s first attack came on four minutes and led to the opening goal. John-Lewis won the ball from a long McKeown goal kick and after Arnold’s shot was not held by home keeper Rhys Taylor, MACKRETH was first to the ball to tap it into the net.
A home free kick was comfortably dealt with as the shot hit the Grimsby wall, before Fairhurst was caught offside soon afterwards as the hosts looked for a way of getting back on level terms.
A high ball into the Town box by Scott Barrow proved easy for McKeown as the hosts broke after Arnold went down.
A Grimsby free kick on 20 minutes for a foul on Pearson was headed away, before Adriano Moke forced a save out of McKeown with a long-range shot after Brown had given the ball away in midfield.
A Macclessfield free kick found its way through to McKeown on 27 minutes, then a ball from Fairhurst also ended up with the Town keeper after Nsiala got back to cover.
John-Lewis was fouled to give the Mariners a chance to get the ball into the danger zone just before the half-hour but Arnold’s free kick was punched clear by Taylor, who got to it ahead of Pearson.
The game was being played at pace, with the ball moving from end to end, although chances in front of goal had been few and far between for both sides.
A foul on Arnold brought about another Town free kick but again, the visitors were unable to capitalise from it.
A run by Mackreth on 40 minutes eventually led to Brown crossing but again, keeper Taylor was not called into action as the ball was cleared and Pearson headed it back to McKeown.
A spell of Macclesfield possession followed, with Moke and Andy Halls both involved before the ball was cleared for a corner. Paul Turnbull’s delivery was caught by McKeown after a short delay when Liam Hogan went down inside the penalty area.
Nsiala was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul two minutes before the break, meaning he will now miss the next two matches after collecting his tenth booking of the season.
Pittman did well to reach a ball from Arnold and put a good cross in but it was just too far ahead of John-Lewis for him to convert the chance.
Grimsby’s first corner of the game came in the second of two added minutes but the ball was cleared after John-Lewis had headed Arnold’s delivery back across goal.
Macclesfield had the ball for the remainder of the half but with no further chances created, it was the Mariners who retained their one-goal advantage at the interval.
Alex Grant replaced Hogan at centre-back for the hosts before the restart and Town won a corner within a minute but Arnold’s kick was behind Pittman and Parslow headed through to Taylor when the ball came back in.
A foul by Pearson on Fairhurst gave Macclesfield a free kick in a dangerous position three minutes in and the hosts went close from it, with Turnbull curling his shot just off-target.
Fairhurst shot wide after beating Pearson on 52 minutes, before a good challenge from Nsiala was needed to stop Matthew Barnes-Homer as the home side continued to threaten.
A free kick for a foul on Disley was headed clear, while Mackreth almost had a chance when Barrow’s chested back-pass proved too short, although the defender recovered to get back and clear the danger.
Barnes-Homer beat Pearson on the right but after he put the ball into the box, the ball was cleared.
The hosts were threatening an equaliser and they could have had it on 59 minutes but a cross from Barrow led to a header which did not have the power needed to beat McKeown.
A foul on Pittman gave Town a free kick just after the hour and after Arnold’s ball was headed on, it was eventually put out for a corner by George Pilkington. The chipped ball from the flag was caught by Taylor.
Whitaker saw a shot deflected wide for Macclesfield, which proved to be the start of a spell of home pressure.
McKeown had to race off his line to block Fairhurst after the ball had been given away from a Town free kick but the keeper got there ahead of the attacker.
Clay replaced Pittman on 68 minutes, meaning John-Lewis was left as the lone striker as Mackreth and Arnold were asked to support him when possible and Disley moved to a holding role in front of the back four.
Barrow was booked for Macclesfield and shortly afterwards, the Mariners came close to doubling their lead when John-Lewis sent a cross in and Mackreth was inches away from connecting with it and making it 2-0.
Denny Johnstone came on for Moke as the home side looked for something different in attack in a bid to force their way back into the game.
Disley was penalised for a foul on 75 minutes but the free kick did not lead to any problems for the Town defence, as McKeown made a comfortable catch.
Mackreth had a shot blocked after a free kick given for a foul on John-Lewis had come back out to him.
Arnold then hit an effort off-target with 11 minutes to go, before Nsiala cleared a cross from Halls at the other end.
McLaughlin came on in place of Brown in the middle of the Grimsby midfield for the final 10 minutes, while Arthur Gnahoua replaced Fairhurst for the hosts.
Pearson almost got on the end of a free kick with six minutes to go but he was beaten to the ball and it was headed away for a corner.
A ball from Mackreth aimed for John-Lewis was cut out as Town looked for a second goal which would have put the result beyond doubt.
John-Lewis went down after coming off worst in a tackle three minutes from time but the striker was passed fit to continue.
A nervy moment for the Mariners and their travelling fans came when a looping cross bounced as Nsiala appeared to lose it but the ball eventually went through to McKeown from Barnes-Homer.
Three added minutes were signalled, with Town still holding their narrow lead and now within touching distance of an impressive victory.
Mackreth had to concede a corner in the last of the added minutes and it was headed by Disley back towards the taker, Turnbull. The follow-up cross – and another from Whitaker – was also headed away and eventually, the ball was put out for a goal kick.
That proved to be the last chance for Macclesfield to get anything from the game as Town held firm for all three points and what may be looked back on as a huge win in their quest for promotion.
The Mariners are next in action on Sunday, when Lincoln City visit Blundell Park.