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Match Reports

Notts 1-2 Macclesfield

Hemmings goal not enough as Notts go bottom

26 December 2018

Macclesfield Town climbed above Notts County in the Sky Bet League Two table after winning 2-1 at Meadow Lane on Boxing Day.

Kane Hemmings had bagged a second-half equaliser to cancel out Scott Wilson's 36th-minute strike.

But Wilson popped up again late on to give Sol Campbell's side the three points.

Neal Ardley made two changes to the team as Matt Tootle, making his first start since early November, and ex-Macclesfield defender Shaun Brisley came into the starting line-up at Rob Milsom and Elliott Ward's expense.

The manager lined his side up in a 4-4-2 formation with Nathan Thomas down the right and David Vaughan in left midfield. Keston Davies partnered Elliott Hewitt in the middle, with Hemmings and Jon Stead up front.

After a cagey start, Notts had the game's first chance as Hemmings laid the ball off for Vaughan in the area. The Welshman's left-footed, curling effort went over the bar.

Three minutes later, the away end was in raptures after Harry Smith nodded home Ben Stephens' cross from the left. As Macclesfield celebrated in front of their supporters, however, the referee consulted his assistant and decided Stephens had been offside in the build-up.

Notts looked rattled, though, and Smith had two good chances to score shortly afterwards, sending a weak shot at Ross Fitszimons before nodding a free header over the bar from a corner.

Tyrone Marsh was the next man to have a go, missing the target from a tight angle under pressure from the Notts defence, before Thomas sent an effort over the bar at the other end following a Hemmings cut-back to the edge of the area.

In truth, though, a Notts goal would have come against the run of play and the visitors eventually got theirs with nine minutes to go in the half.

It came when Wilson claimed a loose ball just outside the Notts area before bending an effort in off the post.

Ardley made an immediate change, sending Milsom on for Hewitt and changing the formation to a 4-3-3.

But Notts had Fitzsimons to thank for keeping the score at 1-0 going into the break as the keeper did well to hang on to the ball at the second attempt after saving a powerful volley from Ryan Lloyd in injury time.

Andy Kellett replaced Vaughan at the break as Notts adjusted to a 4-2-3-1, with Kellett playing behind Stead.

The first shot of the half went the visitors' way, though, Lloyd charging towards the Notts penalty area before striking the ball straight at Fitzsimons.

Smith then missed a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 after being picked out in the middle with a cross. He could only head the ball over from an unmarked position.

The Silkmen had been wasteful in front of goal and were made to pay on 64 minutes by Hemmings, who levelled things up in front of the Air-IT Kop.

It came following a high Notts press which saw the Magpies win the ball back in dangerous territory. Hemmings, who had been played into the area by Davies, tried to cut the ball across the face of goal but it was blocked, coming straight back to him. Instinctively, he snuck it home at the near post to give Meadow Lane a huge lift.

And it was so nearly 2-1 to the Magpies shortly after the restart when Kellett led a surging counter-attack which left Macclesfield outnumbered. Kellett picked the perfect moment to play the ball to Milsom, who had a clear path into the area.

The former Fulham man struck the ball sweetly with his left foot but Silkmen keeper Kieran O'Hara made an excellent left-handed save to keep the ball out.

Ardley's final change followed, with Hemmings making way for Dennis, before Thomas had penalty appeals waved away when he scampered into the area and went down under a challenge. The referee's whistle didn't come, however, and the winger could only curl the ball over the bar after picking himself up.

It looked like there was only going to be one winner but the visitors hit Notts with a sucker punch with 81 minutes on the clock.

Wilson was played into the area and some neat footwork bought him the time to sweep the ball into the bottom corner.

Notts were given five additional minutes in which to find an equaliser and a dramatic finale was set when Dennis caused a brawl after a late challenge on Macclesfield keeper O'Hara. Smith was sent off for what looked like a shove on Dennis in the melee, while the Notts forward escaped with a booking.

But the Magpies were reduced to 10 men themselves when Davies struck the ball at Marsh face as the Macclesfield man lay on the floor after conceding a free-kick.

And that was to be the final action of note as Notts dropped to the bottom of League Two.

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