Macclesfield Town v Newport County

Monday 22nd April 2019   k.o 3:00pm

Sky Bet Football League Two  

 

Report from Mark Vickery at Moss Rose Ground

 

Macclesfield Town 0

Newport County 0

 

Attendance: 2,269

 

Form:

Newport County        LWLLWWddWW

Macclesfield Town    DLLWDDDWLL         

 

 

As you were

 

 

PRE-MATCH THOUGHTS
Warm day so need to work Macclesfield about the pitch. Hosts are trying protect their league status but have a little cushion over other teams so expecting them to fight for every ball

CONDITIONS
Warm, sunny and keen breeze Pitch looked a bit hard and bouncy.

SUMMING UP OUR PERFORMANCE IN ONE STATEMENT
Focussed, persistent but lacked quality and guile in final third to open them up

TURNING POINT
None to note

THE MATCH
County made just the one change with Harry McKirdy replacing Jamille Matt who was named as a substitute in a 3-5-2 formation. County were still missing the services of Andrew Crofts and Josh Labadie in central midfield but did have Adebayo Azeez back in contention. Macclesfield had the benefit of a keen wind behind in the first half and they made some headway with some moves down either side of the penalty box which earned a couple of corners which County dealt well with. Macclesfield were keen to use the presence of target man Harry Smith at every opportunity often directing balls from deep. County broke up the threat well and were more intricate and thoughtful with the ball using McKirdy to work the Macclesfield defence. On 6 minutes, McKirdy got himself facing forward with a strong run left side of the box fending off a challenge from Kelleher and curled an effort from 25 yards just over the bar. County cranked up the pressure with some cohesive moves and were rewarded with a series of corners which Macclesfield defended well inside the six yard but when the ball flashed deep there was nobody reading the loose ball. Macclesfield continued to probe away and were more effective on the break using the pace of Wilson but he struggled to maintain possession and the momentum was lost. Playing into the wind, County were keen to use it to their benefit with some measured cross field passes with Amond and McKirdy doing their best hold the ball but not always on the best wavelength. On 22 minutes, McKirdy again went on a solo mazy run across the face of the area, which unsettled the Macclesfield defence but his shot was blocked by Jules. County enjoyed some good possession midway through the half with Macclesfield happy to sit back but were finding it difficult to prise openings from the flank with Willmott marked well by left back Fitzpatrick and Butler getting little change from Welch-Hayes. On 30 minutes, County were lucky to escape punishment when a loose ball by Sheehan well inside his own half was picked up by Durrell who had plenty of space near edge of the area but overran control of the ball and County keeper Day claimed the ball. Macclesfield persisted with getting two banks of four behind the play making it hard for County and releasing direct balls forward for Smith. On 37 minutes, Smith found a chink of light near the left corner of the area hitting a low shot on the turn which Day held well. County kept probing away with some low passing movements and Dolan coaxed Kelleher into a foul in a dangerous situation down the middle of pitch on the stroke of half time. Dolan took the free kick which he curled towards the right corner but the keeper O’Hara saved well.

Macclesfield continued to sit in deep and absorb pressure in the early stages of the second half showing little ambition to put five passes together. County had to deal with some hopeful crosses from deep positions which Durrell put into the box but Day was untroubled. County made efforts to attack from deep and this proved to be more effective winning some corners and O’Hara was booked on 50 minutes for contesting a decision. Willmott whipped over a decent corner left side which Bennett rose well to meet in the crowd from 8 yards but the keeper saved comfortably in the right corner. County continued to enjoy possession with McKirdy busy with the ball at his feet but there was a degree of vulnerability when he lost possession. On 58 minutes, County were given a warning when Kelleher stole possession from McKirdy deep in the Macclesfield half and directed a precise pass through the middle for Smith to latch onto. He did well to hold off a challenge from Poole but his lobbed effort from edge of the area was well over the bar untroubled Day. Macclesfield persisted with the tactic of stifling play and turning County back on their heels to defend with Wilson busy in behind but Poole and O’Brien were in no mood for any charity clearing the danger well. County made a double substitution on 65 minutes with McKirdy and Dolan replaced by Marsh-Brown and Kennedy which gave them some impetus for a while with some better moves in transition. Kennedy was soon in the action with some forceful runs left side to put pressure on Welch-Hayes and forced a good save on 68 minutes with a chip from the left side of the area which O’Hara claimed at the back post. Macclesfield kept plugging away on the break with plenty of running and chasing down and a snapshot from 25 yards by Wilson was comfortably held by Day. Macclesfield made a tactical change on 70 minutes replacing Wilson for March who went into a five man midfield with Evans dropping to the right side to mark Kennedy. Macclesfield sat in more stubbornly in the final stages playing Smith up front and they were content to stifle County and ping long balls in behind. County worked a good move on 73 minutes that was instigated by Butler left side finding Kennedy. He carried his run wide left hugging the channel and cut back a clever cross to find Bennett who flicked his shot instinctively towards the right corner from 10 yards forcing the keeper to save low down. County had an even better chance on 75 minutes when Willmott danced his way inside from the right channel and curled a decent effort just over the 20 yards. Macclesfield made another change soon after with Rose replaced by Cole. On 80 minutes, County created a decent move left side when Kennedy again caused problems for right back Welch-Hayes and clipped a teasing cross into the box which Willmott anticipated with a header from 10 yards which went straight at the keeper. County responded by bringing on Azeez for Bennett in final stages playing 3-4-3 who gave County more presence in the aerial duals. County ramped up the tempo in the final minutes and Macclesfield working hard to deny them space and use the pace of Marsh with some runs left side of the 18 yard box. County had a couple of opportunities from long throws late in the game which Macclesfield dealt well with in the main. In the second minute of injury, Demetriou launched a more telling throw left side which Azeez glanced on ahead of Jules and Amond was quick to snatch the loose ball and his shot from inside the six yard was diverted by Fitzpatrick. County kept plugging away but Macclesfield held firm for a point that could be important for both sides come May 4th.

Day (7) – not really tested, claimed well on crosses and claimed well low down. Kicked and distributed well with some great kicks through the middle into wind which were not read.

Poole (7) –  was asked questions of from direct play but showed composure to deal with aerial threat, tackle and clear decisively. Made efforts to initiate moves from deep.

Butler (6) –  put under some pressure when turned back and forced a little deep first half. Did better after half time to influence moves but restricted on crosses put in.

O’Brien (7) –  competed well with Smith, stood up well to robust challenges and pinched the ball to clear. Did some good work track pace in behind and kept his focus well.

Demetriou (7) –  no effects after early head injury, stifled threat snapping up possession and cleared well. Showed pedigree in the air and with ball at his feet scoring two great goals

Dolan (6) – had a good influence in the build up play first half and put in some decent crosses from set pieces. Was a little slow to move ball second half allowing defence to reshape.

Bennett (7) – anticipated loose ball well and made some good headers. Made a good fist of getting into the box more late on and went close on couple of times. Deserved a goal today

Willmott (5) –  got little change from left back Fitzpatrick and lacked usual verve and trickery to get to the byline. Showed he could make things happen when he was forced inside.

Sheehan (5) – passed well in general, had a lot of the ball first half but never really got on ball enough to take up positions to hurt and penetrate. Influence faded late on

McKirdy (5) – plenty of running and confidence on the ball and unlucky with a couple of shots blocked. Needed to release ball quicker second half but ran into dead end too often

Amond (6) – quiet game, worked hard and did his best to retain possession but took up too many lame positions often outside the box. Had a good chance late on but was denied.

 

 

SWOT ANALYSIS OPPONENTS
Strengths –
their defensive set up was organised and they were strong in the air dealing with set pieces. Kept their discipline and concentration very well conceding few free kicks.

Weaknesses – struggled to put more than five passes together. Crosses lacked quality and they overplayed several passes. Over reliant on direct searching balls to relieve pressure

Opportunities –  they put Wilson up alongside Smith and opted to play direct. If anything they went more reclusive after their challenges and fought to bitter end for a point.
Threats –
Smith did well in the aerial duals, Wilson pace in behind and Marsh runs from deep. Rose offered some quality with passing and keeping the ball on the pitch.

OFFICIALS
M Donohue (8) – tried his best to make the game flow and got the key decisions right. Barely noticed him.    


MAN OF THE MATCH
Fiacre Kelleher – made some important interventions, swept up possession and won most of the aerial duals getting tight to clear. Read game well and distributed effectively

IF YOU WERE MICHAEL FLYNN WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

County struggled to get in behind a robust, disciplined Macclesfield side that were set up for a point and without the presence of Matt up top they struggled to create clear-cut chances. County were most effective when they kept the ball low and shifted play quick not taking too many touches but they will be disappointed they could not test the Macclesfield keeper more from open play. McKirdy ran into too many dead ends and although County improved when Kennedy was introduced their final touch inside the area lacked bite. Although it was another clean sheet, County will know they will need to improve their end product in the final games and get their wide play more finely tuned. County will need to be bold and offer more verve to get crosses in and shake hands with the byline. On times today, when they did work the ball across the face of the box there was opportunity from attacking midfield positions but County were slow to get men into the box or react. County play Champions Lincoln City next at Rodney Parade and having conducted themselves well at Sincil Bank despite losing will know the fine margins. Lincoln will carry threat from direct play into Rhead but will be reliant on the industry of Akinde for penetration to carry them up the pitch and link play. However, a key battle in this game could be the transition play with Butler v Eardley and Willmott v Toffolo on the flanks and one County should feel confident they can win over.