Macclesfield Town 2 - 1 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town lost some momentum in their promotion push as they were beaten by Macclesfield Town at the Moss Rose.
After their impressive performance and result against Wrexham on Saturday, the Mariners were looking to make it six points out of six over the Easter holiday as they travelled to Cheshire.
Instead, it was the hosts who took advantage of a poor Town first-half display, taking the lead through Jack Sampson.
The Mariners improved after the interval and after Jon Nolan put them back on level terms, it looked like they could go on to win the game.
But they were caught out when Reece Styche raced clear and after the offside flag stayed down, he beat James McKeown to notch what proved to be the winning goal.
Two changes were made to the Town side after Saturday’s home win, with Gregor Robertson and Omar Bogle coming into the XI. They replaced Evan Horwood and Pat Hoban, who both dropped to the bench.
McKeown started in goal, behind a defence of Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Robertson.
The midfield of Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Nolan was unchanged from the weekend, with Bogle coming in alongside Padraig Amond in attack.
Horwood and Hoban were joined on the bench by Shaun Pearson, Ryan Jennings and Jordan Stewart.
Macclesfield came into the game having put a long winless run to bed with an excellent victory at Gateshead on Good Friday.
They would look to striker Reece Styche to add to the hat-trick he scored in the north-east by netting again in this clash.
The hosts had the first chance of the game when Danny Rowe advanced down the left and fed Chris Holroyd inside the box but the striker was denied by McKeown, who blocked his shot for a corner.
A foul by Nsiala on Styche gave Macclesfield a free kick on seven minutes, then another free kick went the way of the home side soon afterwards. Neither caused any problems for the Town defence.
Neither side had really settled into the contest as the 10-minute mark passed, with heavy rain falling.
Nsiala had to cut out a cross from Holroyd two minutes later, before Arnold won the first corner of the afternoon at the other end. Nolan’s near-post delivery was headed clear.
Bogle shot at home keeper Shwan Jalal from 20 yards on 18 minutes, before a home free kick from Danny Whitaker on the right led to Holroyd flicking a header wide.
The game was moving from end to end and Town had another corner when a header by Clay was tipped over the bar by Jalal. Again though, Nolan’s ball from the flag was headed away from danger.
Amond then fired wide of the near post after a run through the middle by Nolan, as the Mariners looked for an opening goal.
But when the deadlock was broken, it was the hosts who got themselves on the scoreboard. After a mistake in the Town midfield, Rowe had the freedom to advance down the left unchallenged and when he chipped the ball over McKeown, SAMPSON tapped it over the line at the far post.
Disley was penalised for a foul on Whitaker on 29 minutes and from the resulting free klick, Styche’s powerful drive was blocked by Nsiala before Rowe hit the rebound wide.
It could have been 2-0 to the home side just after the half-hour when Styche beat Nsiala on the left side of the penalty area but after he pulled the ball back, nobody in blue was there to convert the chance.
Instead, the Mariners had an opportunity of their own with a free kick midway inside the Macclesfield half, although Nolan’s ball was dealt with by defender John McCombe.
Town then had a let-off after a mistake by Gowling looked to have let the hosts in again, only for Styche to be flagged offside.
Macclesfield were on top and Town boss Paul Hurst opted to make a change after 37 minutes, sending Jennings on for Clay and switching Arnold to a left-wing role in a more conventional 4-4-2.
A free kick on the left brought an opportunity for the visitors to get the ball into the box and after Arnold’s delivery was not dealt with, Gowling hit a shot which went wide of Jalal’s target for a goal kick.
Sampson was shown the first yellow card of the game after catching Tait with his arm in an aerial challenge two minutes before the break.
An additional two minutes was signalled by the fourth official and with no further chances for either side before the referee’s whistle, it remained 1-0 to the home side at half-time.
Town could count themselves lucky to only be one goal behind at the halfway point after being second best over the first 45 minutes but Macclesfield had failed to fully take advantage, meaning the Mariners were still in the game.
No further changes were made before the restart and Town started the second half on the attack, although they were unable to test Jalal in the early stages.
Robertson linked up well with Arnold down the left on 50 minutes but the winger’s cross was headed clear before it could reach Amond at the far post.
Arnold was involved again soon afterwards and this time, he did find Amond with a low pass but the striker’s effort from 15 yards was stopped by Jalal.
At the other end, the home side’s first chance of the half saw Rowe have a low shot blocked by McKeown.
Danny Whitehead went into the referee’s notebook for kicking the ball away before a Town free kick near the halfway line soon afterwards but the set-piece opportunity came to nothing.
A ball across the six-yard box by Bogle was cleared for a throw-in, before a low shot from Arnold was held by Jalal.
But the next time the Mariners attacked, they were back on level terms. Bogle found NOLAN on the edge of the box and the midfielder took it forward before rifling a shot past the keeper.
Town nearly snatched the lead soon afterwards when a mistake in the home defence let Arnold in but he could not beat Jalal, who blocked from a narrow angle.
Amond saw a shot blocked and Disley had a 20-yard effort saved by Jalal as the Mariners looked to complete the turnaround, before Whitehead chipped the ball straight to McKeown after picking up a loose pass at the other end.
Town had been the better side since scoring but they were to fall behind again on 67 minutes. STYCHE, who looked to be in an offside position from Holroyd’s pass, was allowed to continue as the linesman’s flag stayed down and despite Nsiala getting back and attempting a challenge, the striker forced the ball beyond McKeown and into the net.
Amond was caught offside on the edge of the box after Town looked to have worked an opening as they searched for a second equaliser.
Then, Jalal had to come off his line and make a good block from Arnold after Bogle had done well to hold the ball up.
That proved to be Bogle’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced with Hoban, with 15 minutes to go.
Dan Cowan came on for Andy Halls for Macclesfield soon afterwards, before Disley had a chance to make it 2-2, only for him to fire wide under pressure.
Robertson won a corner on the left on 85 minutes and after Tony Diagne came on in place of Styche, Arnold’s flag-kick was comfortably caught by Jalal.
And another offside decision went against the Mariners when Hoban threaded the ball through but the flag went up against Arnold.
Jalal was booked for time-wasting, before a free kick for handball gave Town the chance to attack from the left. They did not take it though and the hosts broke through Whitaker. He gave the ball to Whitehead, who hit the post from 18 yards.
Five added minutes were signalled and Town sent Pearson on in place of Tait in a bid to snatch something from the game.
The Mariners won a corner on the right in the third of those added minutes but with McKeown up to help with the attack, Arnold’s ball from the flag beat everybody and went out for a throw-in.
Another chance came and went when Pearson’s low cross found Nolan but his low shot flashed wide of the mark.
And it proved to be their final opportunity to rescue something from the game as the referee’s final whistle a couple of minutes later confirmed a disappointing defeat.
Town are next in action on Friday, when they visit league leaders Cheltenham Town