Macclesfield Town 0 Notts County 1

Harry Kewell was forced to make one change to the side that beat Crawley Town following Rob Milsom’s dismissal for a reckless challenge in that match. Shaun Brisley, who made more than 100 league appearances for the Silkmen earlier in his career, stepped into central midfield, shielding the back four alongside fellow former Town player Elliott Hewitt. Lewis Alessandra played a more advanced role behind Stead, with Kane Hemmings and Enzio Boldewijn providing the width.

Notts claimed the first shot of the day on four minutes, Hemmings latching on to Stead’s flick on before seeing his shot blocked. Macclesfield’s response followed a minute later when Nathan Blissett’s unorthodox header was easily saved by Ross Fitzsimons. Blissett was thwarted by the keeper again on 15 minutes, receiving a nice reverse pass from Tyrone Marsh but seeing his effort well saved low down. Applause rang around the ground on 22 minutes as supporters remembered Notts fan Ryan Parkins, who was tragically killed earlier in the week. Stead then saw a thunderous effort blocked by Callum Maycock as both sides tussled for dominance on an afternoon of changeable weather conditions in Cheshire. And the sun was almost shining for Notts when Boldewijn showed terrific pace to beat his full back to Hewitt’s perfectly-weighted through ball before crossing to the near post. The ball looked destined for Hemmings but a Macclesfield defender did well to turn it behind for a corner. Alessandra drifted a free-kick over the bar and, moments before half-time, the midfielder’s cross deflected up off Hemmings and fortuitously into the hands of home keeper Kieran O’Hara, instead of his net. That meant the sides returned to the dressing rooms locked at 0-0 – and there were no Notts changes at the break.

The Magpies made a bright start to the second half and Alessandra’s quick feet drew the game’s first booking, Peter Vincenti guilty of a poorly timed challenge. Chances were proving few and far between, though, and Macclesfield spurned their first of the half when Scott Wilson curled the ball straight at Fitzsimons to bring a speedy counter-attack to an end. Brisley saw yellow after accumulating a number of fouls shortly before Blissett headed Keith Lowe’s cross narrowly wide of the post. Kewell’s first change came on 69 minutes, Thomas replacing Alessandra as Notts switched to a more conventional 4-4-2 with the substitute on the right, Boldewijn down the left and Brisley partnering Hewitt in the middle – a pairing which was disrupted shortly afterwards as Noor Husin came on for Brisley. It looked like the game was heading for a draw but Notts’ determination to win bore fruit with seven minutes to play. Boldewijn chased his own misplaced pass into the channel, forcing a poor backpass from Fiacre Kelleher which allowed him to nip in ahead of Town keeper O’Hara. The Dutchman was tripped by the stopper’s outstretched arm and Stead fired the resultant penalty into the top corner in front of more than 800 travelling supporers. Kristian Dennis replaced Hemmings after the celebrations and four minutes were added on at the end of the match. Fitzsimons did well to tip Maycock’s effort over the bar in the dying seconds but there was to be no revival for the hosts as Notts made it five matches unbeaten.

Macclesfield Town: O’Hara, Hodgkiss, Lowe, Kelleher, Fitzpatrick, Vincenti (Rose 75), Arthur (Napa 70), Maycock, Marsh, Wilson, Blissett (Smith 70).

Booked: O’Hara, Vincenti.

Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Ward, Turley, Evina, Hewitt, Brisley (Husin 76), Hemmings (Dennis 84), Alessandra (Thomas 69), Boldewijn, Stead.

Booked: Brisley.

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