- Monday, 05 March 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
Gambia-hopeful Mustapha Carayol and his English League Two side Bristol Rovers suffered an afternoon of frustration at the Memorial Stadium as they were unable to break down a stubborn Macclesfield side who got the point they came for.
The Pirates had the better of what few chances there were in a dour game, but were unable to make a breakthrough with the Silkmen’s on-loan goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell making a couple of good saves to keep the visitors in the match.
Rovers’ two best openings came in the second half but the young Sheffield Wednesday shot-stopper reacted well to keep out strikes from Mustapha Carayol and Lee Brown.
Mark McGhee made three changes to Rovers’ starting lineup. With on-loan defender Tom Parkes missing through illness, Michael Smith was recalled – and there were also places for big target man Matt Harrold and Brown. Joe Anyinsah and Chris Zebroski were the players to miss out, both starting on the bench – along with youngster Shaquille Hunter, who was also named among the substitutes.
Rovers were soon on the attack with Carayol cutting inside in the fifth minute before letting fly from 25 yards with a shot that went a couple of feet wide. Then Jim Paterson went on an overlapping run down the left and delivered a cross which was a couple of inches too high for the head of Andy Dorman inside the six-yard box.
Rovers were awarded an indirect free kick inside the Silkmen’s penalty box when Ben Futcher was penalized for smothering the ball under his legs, but Brown’s strike was blocked by the visitors' defensive wall. Shortly afterwards, Matthew Lund’s strike from a 25-yard free kick took a slight deflection off the wall but was saved by O’Donnell, who also safely gathered a 20-yarder by Brown just before the half-hour.
As an attacking force, the Silkmen – playing with one up front – had posed no threat from open play, although Rovers had needed to defend solidly against some long throws from Elliott Hewitt. Rovers almost made a breakthrough just before the interval when Brown knocked the ball across the face of goal, but Harrold failed to make contact a couple of yards out.
Early in the second half, Lund hit a volley just over the top following a half-cleared corner.
Then Macclesfield created their first half-chance of the game. Lone striker George Donnelly nudged Cian Bolger off the ball, but then saw his angled shot deflected wide for a corner.
Rovers made a double change just after the hour with Zebroski on for Dorman and Craig Stanley replacing Smith as Lund switched to right-back.
Macclesfield then a couple of escapes as Harrold had a goal bound header from a corner blocked and Bolger’s overhead kick was chested away from goal by Carl Tremarco. Then a Rovers breakaway almost led to an opener. Stanley fed Carayol, whose low shot was saved well by O’Donnell down to his right.
Macclesfield were happy to let the clock tick down and O’Donnell was booked for time wasting as the game moved into the final 15 minutes.
Brown hammered a left-foot shot towards goal with five minutes left, but O’Donnell made another good low stop to deny the home side.