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REPORT | Unbeaten run continues as County draw at Macclesfield Town

22 April 2019

Newport County AFC still know victories in every game from now until the end of the season will be enough for a play-off berth despite being held to a 0-0 draw at struggling Macclesfield Town.

In a game where chances were few and far between, Scot Bennett’s deflected strike required saving but other than that both goalkeepers had a relatively comfortable afternoon.

County stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches and keep two points away from Exeter City in seventh position, while Macclesfield stay two points above the drop heading into the final few matches.

Manager Michael Flynn made one change to the side which put in their best performance of the season so far to secure a 3-1 victory over automatic promotion chasers Bury FC on Friday.

Jamille Matt withdrew at half-time of that contest with a suspected dead leg, he was okay to return to the bench, but Harry McKirdy started in his place at The Moss Rose.

That saw the Exiles initially start with a 3-5-2 formation in Cheshire, although the license was there to switch to more of a 4-4-2 when going on the attack.

Macclesfield Town manager Sol Campbell made three changes to his side whose survival hopes took a hit on Friday with a 3-1 defeat at Northampton Town.

In came Michael Rose, Callum Evans and Scott Wilson to a 3-4-1-2 formation as Ben Stephens failed a late fitness test and both Nathan Cameron and assistant manager Danny Whitaker missed also missed out on the starting side.

With all three points meaning so much to both sides for contrasting reasons, neither particularly wanted to give away anything for free which led to a cagey contest up until the half-time whistle.

In an opening 45 minutes very much akin to the trip to Yeovil Town last month as chances were frustratingly few and far between and even when they did appear, neither goalkeeper had anything to worry about.

County’s greatest moment of note up until half-time didn’t even trouble Kieran O’Hara but the Exiles were mighty close. A lovely cross-field pass from Josh Sheehan into Mickey Demetriou saw the defender head across the area, but Fiacre Kelleher got the decisive touch to turn it over his crossbar.

It kind of felt like chances were going to come from errors by the other side, Manchester United loanee O’Hara didn’t particularly like coming from crosses but County didn’t exploit the hesitation.

Josh Sheehan needlessly gave the ball away in the 26th minute which probably should have been punished by the Silkmen. Elliott Durrell appeared to be in on goal but the first touch was shocking and Joe Day was able to rescue the situation.

Macclesfield frontman Harry Smith shot twice into Day palms from distance while Durrell shot wide on the turn as that was all the home side could provide.

Matty Dolan’s free-kick safely went into the palms of O’Hara in first-half stoppage time as proceedings were brought to a close.

Unfortunately, the second-half was almost identical to the first as neither could break the other down in fear of potentially suffering a defeat.

In fairness, a point isn’t disastrous for either as it’s as you were for both sides with County still knowing a win in every fixture will get them the play-offs and Macclesfield know the same in terms of survival.

Smith again had two shots straight into the chest of Day as Macclesfield never really looked like breaking the deadlock with misplaced passes in crucial areas.

County’s best chance of the second-half brought about the only real save of the contest as O’Hara did well to shift his body weight back across when Scot Bennett’s strike took a deflection.

Robbie Willmott, Ben Kennedy and Padraig Amond all drew additional saves from O’Hara, but it really was a cagey affair with chances at a premium.

As you were then. Three wins in the final three games and the play-offs will be occupied by the Exiles.    

 

Newport County AFC (3-5-2): Day, Butler, Demetriou, O’Brien (C), Poole, Willmott, Bennett (Azeez 81’), Sheehan, Dolan (Kennedy 64’), Amond, McKirdy (Marsh-Brown 64’)

Subs not used: Pipe, Matt, Randall, Bakinson

 

Macclesfield Town (3-4-1-2): O’Hara, Jules, Kelleher, Welch-Hayes, Fitzpatrick, Ntambwe, Rose (Cole 75’), Evans, Durrell, Wilson (Marsh 68’), Smith  

Subs not used: Idem, Grimes, Whitaker, Mullings, Martis

 

Referee: Matthew Donohue

Attendance: 2,269 (305 AWAY)

Next up for County: Lincoln City (27th April 2019) HOME


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