MACCLESFIELD FC 2, WEST BROM X1 0
Non-league Macclesfield FC underlined why they are favourites to win Northern Premier League, division one west with victory against effectively West Brom U23s at the Leasing.com Stadium.
The Silkmen, promoted to the eighth tier in their first season following the club’s reformation after Macclesfield Town went out of existence, are certainly full of ambition.
Macc have gone effectively full-time, unprecedented at this level, after switching to day-time training.
And club owner Robert Smethurst explained their recruitment is geared to a rapid rise up the football pyramid.
That has been underlined by their summer signings who include Zeki Fryers, still aged only 29, who has played in the Premier League for Manchester United, Tottenham and Crystal Palace.
Macc have also signed Brazilian youth international Marcelo Pitaluga on a season-long loan from Liverpool, midfielder Alex Curran from Curzon Ashton two divisions higher and Neil Kengni, one of Marine’s star players in their memorable FA Cup run of two seasons ago.
The squad already included Mark Duffy, the midfielder who was still starring for Sheffield United until 2020, and Alex Kiwomya, a forward with considerable EFL experience.
West Brom, whose side included Danish striker Kenneth Zahore who was bought from Cardiff City in a deal worth up to £8million, provided a stern test but one which the hosts rose to.
Macc, who had four trialists in their starting line-up, would have fallen behind in the 14th minute but for a brilliant reflex save by Pitaluga to keep out a header from Caleb Taylor.
Zahore also saw a header flash narrowly wide as the Baggies were the more dangerous side.
However, it was the Silkmen who snatched a 32nd minute lead with a far-post header from a trialist central defender.
And Macc might have added a second shortly before half time when a delightful through ball from a trialist released Kiwomya who dragged his shot wide.
Striker Tom Clare glanced a header wide when he ought to have hit the target for Macc after an hour.
Baggies’ keeper Josh Andrews, who has racked up a lot of games on loan at Cheltenham Town and Lincoln City, then pulled off a super double save to deny substitutes Harry Freedman and Jacob Hanson.
It was then the turn of Pitaluga, named man of the match, to excel again to deny Rico Richards.
Macc sealed victory with a second goal in the 85th minute, a comedy of errors at the back.
Striker substitute Andy Owens intercepted a stray defensive pass and then proceeded to nutmeg goalkeeper Andrews, to his embarrassment, before firing into an empty net.