First half goal ends Trophy ambitions
A heavily deflected first half strike was enough to dump Forest Green Rovers out of the FA Trophy at Moss Rose, writes Richard Joyce.
Danny Whitehead’s deflected effort helped National League counterparts Macclesfield Town claim a place in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition.
Mark Cooper’s men dominated throughout in Cheshire but couldn’t find a way past the Silkmen’s experienced goalkeeper Scott Flinders who kept a clean sheet as Rovers were denied a place in the last eight of the competition yet again since they last achieved the feat in 2009.
Liam Noble’s fantastic deliveries had contributed to a significant win at Barrow last weekend. He was looking to make an impact with the dead ball again from as early as the second minute a week later, as his terrific free kick was headed onto the post by Christian Doidge to almost hand FGR a lead right at the start.
Rovers dominated in the minutes after but a freak deflection was enough to see the Silkmen go in front. Whitehead’s strike from outside the area hit an FGR man on the way through to wrong foot Sam Russell and put the home side a goal up.
Flinders was called upon by the hosts to make two good saves to deny Forest Green the chance to draw level.
He kept out Ethan Pinnock’s left footed shot after a positive run by the centre back, and then produced a diving save to keep out Dan Wishart’s header from another dangerous Noble delivery.
Jake Gosling’s free kick on 27 minutes almost crept in under the bar after Kaiyne Woolery had been brought down, but despite FGR’s dominance, Macclesfield almost doubled their lead ten minutes before the break.
A shot from distance by former Birmingham City youngster Mitch Hancox was parried by Russell, and Whitehead saw his follow up hit the post.
Immediately after the break Hancox tried to double his team’s lead however he fired over and it proved to be a rare opening for Macclesfield in a second half that saw Rovers continuously attack the hosts in search for an equaliser.
Chances were hard to create against a sea of defensive bodies, however Mark Ellis drove a long-range strike wide and substitute Keanu Marsh-Brown went close after turning well.
Noble’s sweetly struck free kick on 75 minutes fell just the wrong way of Flinders left hand post, while another free kick from the number 15 was headed just wide by Pinnock shortly after.
Macclesfield finally secured a big opportunity to enhance their lead right at the end. Russell did brilliantly well though to foil Chris Holroyd who had got in.
There were still late opportunities as the game entered stoppage time. Flinders though was on hand to stop Charlie Cooper’s hooked attempt and the Silkmen stopper again proved to be a barrier to confirm his side’s progress when he reached to save Pinnock’s glancing nod on goal.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images