ewport County missed the opportunity to get themselves into the play-off places as they could only manage a 0-0 draw in a lacklustre game at Moss Rose.
Jamille Matt was only fit enough for a place on the bench but the sprite Harry McKirdy stepped into his big boots to deputise after his impressive display on Good Friday. Joss Labadie continued to miss out with his ankle injury and he will be monitored during this week ahead of next weekend’s crunch tie at home to Lincoln City.
The kickoff was delayed by 10 minutes; it is believed tat the Macclesfield players delayed coming out for the game in protest against their owners amidst the club’s internal problems. It is believed that the players aren’t being paid for their services.
A poor first half culminated in very few chances for either side. As always seemed likely, McKirdy was the liveliest of the County players but his early snap-shot from the edge of the box flew well over the bar and wide. He later had another effort blocked after charging the ball down well initially but County struggled to get through a well-marshalled Macclesfield defence.
The other end was equally as uninspiring but the Silkmen could have taken a surprise lead when, following some pinball in the box, the ball fell to the feet of Harry Smith. Fortunately for Mike Flynn’s side, he couldn’t get his feet sorted quickly enough and Mickey Demetriou stepped in with a fantastic last-ditch tackle.
County looked to play with a touch more intensity at the start of the second half; McKirdy again did well to earn his side a corner which, after yet another new routine, found it’s way to Scot Bennett at he back post but his header was straight at goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara.
Mike Flynn introduced Keanu Marsh-Brown and Ben Kennedy midway through the second half and almost paid dividends immediately. Good work down the left from Ben Kennedy almost found a team-mate in the middle but the ball was well claimed by O’Hara. Moments later, Guyana International Marsh-Brown was at the heart of a move that ended at Scot Bennett’s left foot but again, O’Hara was equal to it. Then Kennedy tried his luck himself with an audacious left-footed effort from the corner of the box which just wouldn’t quite curl enough to trouble the goal.
Another slick move between Ben Kennedy and Padraig Amond resulted in a headed opportunity for the in-form Robbie Willmott but the assist master could only find the gloves of O’Hara. He found them again moments later when a free kick routine between himself and Josh Sheehan saw him receive the ball in space; the driven effort decelerated as it reached the ‘keeper’s midriff.
Josh Sheehan, who had a very average game throughout, thought he’d earned a penalty late on when he stole into the box and appeared to be upended by his marker. Nothing was forthcoming from the referee and in all honesty, the shouts were mainly from the fans rather than the players.
On the whole, County looked leggy in their pursuit of a win. An extra half a yard of pace probably would have been enough to get the job done but alas, the result keeps them in 11th place in the table, two points from the play-off places with a game in hand so no ground has been lost. The main positive from today is that Lincoln have confirmed themselves as champions and therefore, MAY be “on the beach’ when they visit Rodney Parade on Saturday. Let’s hope so…
Man of the Match: Harry McKirdy
Player Ratings: Day 6, Butler 6, Willmott 6, Dolan 6 (Kennedy 7), Amond 6, Sheehan 5, Bennett 6 (Azeez 6), O’Brien (c) 6, Poole 6, McKirdy 7 (Marsh-Brown 6), Demetriou 7
Attendance: 2,269 (309 away)