Silkmen progress at hands of poor Southend

17 Nov

THE “carrot” dangled in front of Southend and Macclesfield for winning this FA Cup replay did little to inspire the fans to venture out on a chilly November evening. Just 2,100 – the lowest ever FA Cup crowd at Roots Hall – bothered to turn up to see if their team could set up an almost certain second round exit at the hands of Huddersfield (or Cambridge, but few gave them a chance of winning at the Galpharm).
Just the East and West stands were open, with the 17 Macclesfield supporters (the official figure of 36 was boosted by 19 complimentary tickets to players’ families) huddled in the blue seats of the main stand.
The eerie atmosphere did little to inspire Paul Sturrock’s men and a tepid first half only finished goal-less thanks to Anthony Grant’s goal-line clearance. Josh Simpson had the best chance of the game for Southend after Barry Corr had sledgehammered his way through the visitors’ rearguard, but somehow the on-loan midfielder sand-wedged his shot over from six yards out.
The second half began with both sides showing much more intent. Barry Corr saw a shot saved by the legs of Jose Veiga, and up the other end, Bilel Mohsni’s calamitous backpass gave Emile Sinclair all the time in the world, but he shanked the ball badly wide with just Morris to beat.
Southend’s defence were determined to give away a goal, and Peter Gilbert managed it in style soon afterwards. His woefully underhit pass to Morris was intercepted by Sinclair, who rounded the stranded goalkeeper and rolled the ball into the North Bank net.
The goal was greeted by near-silence by a crowd seemingly too apathetic to even launch vitriol at the hapless left-back.
Blues tried to rally, Bilel Mohsni having a shot cleared off the line from close range.
But the home side had Glenn Morris to thank for keeping them in the tie with an incredible double-save from Hamza Bencherif with five minutes left.
During the first game at Moss Rose, Southend had twice come from a goal down, and the introduction of Ryan Hall had an effect on 87 minutes when his shot took a deflection into the path of Simpson, who slid the ball into the net at full-stretch.
It secured extra time, and with Southend having brought on Antonio German, the on-loan QPR man went close when he headed a right wing cross over the target.
But Southend’s inability to deal with set-pieces cost them again when Nsaia Aristote volleyed a half-cleared corner into the South Stand net on 99 minutes.
But with the whistle about to go for half time, Ryan Hall’s 20 yard shot was parried into the path of Barry Corr, who had the simple task of sidefooting the ball into an empty net.
It meant a second penalty shoot-out of the season for Southend, being taken in front of the North Bank this time. With German having put his first spot kick away, Barry Corr was the second man to take one for Blues, but his effort was high and wide of the goal. Despite successful conversions from Clohessy and Hall, Macclesfield went into their fifth penalty needing only to score to win.
Glenn Morris dramatically guessed right, diving to his left to save from Nat Brown. However, as the ball left his gloves, it spun back off the turf and rolled agonisingly into the net with most of the crowd still celebrating, leaving Blues to concentrate on the rather depressing business of avoiding a relegation battle.


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