Macclesfield 1 Halifax Town 1: Shaymen top Conference after draw

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Scott Boden scored against his old club as FC Halifax Town returned to the top of the Conference Premier with a 1-1 draw at Macclesfield.

The game was in the same mould as last season’s 2-2 draw at Moss Rose as both sides contributed to a full-blooded contest, although a late disallowed goal left a sour taste in the mouth for the Shaymen.

Town took a leaf out of England’s book and deployed a diamond in midfield, with Ross Dyer’s match-winning cameo on Saturday promoting him from the bench.

Matt Pearson started at the tip of that diamond and marked his territory with a crunching early tackle.

The Town midfielder was the pantomime villain here last season after an unedifying incident with Connor Jennings which saw the Macclesfield striker sent-off and Pearson booked.

That game was peppered with some tetchy tackles and this contest was no different as both teams battled to gain superiority in a packed middle third.

Neither team was given much breathing space on the ball, but Pearson produced a delightful turn away from Scott Barrow and crossed to Boden, whose lay-off found Lois Maynard but his shot was deflected wide.

There was a flashback to the kind of rotten luck Town experienced on the road last season when an ankle injury to Marc Roberts allowed Wade Fairhurst to run onto a through ball before he was crowded out.

Pearson continued to sparkle at the top of the diamond as he drilled in a low shot that Taylor reacted well to turn away.

But Macclesfield created two excellent chances just before the break as the lively-looking Fairhurst brought a fine save from Matt Glennon before Paul Lewis’ header flashed just wide from the resulting corner.

The curse of the former player, which has so often struck against Town, then saw Boden tap-in after Jackson’s shot was spilled by Rhys Taylor.

The lead only lasted five minutes though as Gnahoua fired an excellent shot low across Glennon.

Halifax had good reason thankful for the durability of Marc Roberts’ ankle as the defender played a key part in holding off the home side with a towering header then a superb tackle on the tricky Gnahoua.

Substitute Adam Smith then struck a thunderous drive from 25 yards that forced an excellent save from Taylor as the game’s knife-edge got even thinner.

There was just time to squeeze in one last moment of drama as Roberts was denied a late winner as the linesman flagged for an alleged foul on Rhys Taylor, much to the chagrin of the Town bench and the away supporters, who were celebrating what they thought was the winner.

Macclesfield: Taylor, Halls, Waterfall, Pilkington, Barrow, Gnahoua, Haining (Diaz 55), Lewis (Cowan 81), Turnbull (Rouse 46), Fairhurst, Holroyd. Subs not used: Thomas, Branagan.

Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, M Roberts, Williams, McManus, Schofield, Maynard (Smith 71), Pearson, Marshall, Boden, Dyer (Jackson 46, Ainge 90)). Subs not used: Senior, K Roberts.

Town man of the match: Matt Pearson

Referee: Steve Rushton (Staffordshire)