Unfortunate Silkmen unlocked by Albion’s Kee asset
Burton Albion hatched a perilous daylight robbery operation to swindle the luckless 10-men of Macclesfield Town out of all three points at the Pirelli Stadium.
In a season where Paul Peschisolido’s troops have become accustomed to winning ugly, those previous triumphs were made to look flatteringly handsome by comparison to their latest smash and grab.
On the balance of play, a draw may have been seen as a travesty of justice, but it was Albion who somehow escaped from the scene of the crime with the biggest steal.
And Silkmen boss Gary Simpson could have been forgiven for offering a hefty reward for any spectator who could fathom his side’s shortcomings.
Billy Kee’s hot scoring streak continued and again paid rich dividends as his typically potent instinct proved enough for the Brewers to edge grimly past the ill-fated Silkmen.
Even the incredible dismissal of the visitors’ newly-introduced half time substitute Vinny Mukendi just 12 seconds into the second period was not to deter his team’s dominance, who made it hard to tell which side were a man light.
Ultimately though, the game boiled down to Kee’s opportunism in the 11th minute and secretly, Silkmen manager Simpson must be wishing he had an equally ruthless hitman at his disposal whilst he watched his men squander a succession of gilt-edged chances.
Macclesfield, who have mounted a promotion charge of their own, pushed Albion to such a degree that the overriding emotion upon the full time whistle was one of sheer relief instead of victorious joy.
Centre-half Nathan Stanton was rushed back into starting lineup for his first appearance in over three months to fill the boots of the suspended Tony James and striker Greg Pearson was included on the Albion bench after a lengthy lay-off with a toe injury.
There was also a happy return to the fray for midfielder Jacques Maghoma on the left wing, who played a key role in the decisive goal.
The Silkmen were the busier and brighter side in the opening exchanges and Albion had goalkeeper Ross Atkins to thank for keeping them on level pegging.
Chesterfield loanee Scott Boden latched onto Shaun Brisley’s knock-down following a corner, but his eight yard shot on the turn was instinctively blocked by the legs of Atkins.
Boden and Macclesfield payed a heavy price for failing to punish Albion’s slugglish start when Kee smashed the Brewers ahead.
Adam Bolder’s hopeful punt was inconclusively dealt with by the away defence, Elliot Hewitt’s weak clearance only found Maghoma whose fierce drive was palmed away by Silkmen stopper Jose Veiga, but Kee was lurking to take a touch before burying the loose ball high into the net from 8 yards.
Albion had to escape another moment of anxiety just as they were looking to stamp some authority on the game. If Ross Draper had made more significant contact with Sam Wedgbury’s teasing cross, the hosts might have been in a spot of bother.
Striker Boden was gulity of spurning another golden opportunity when Lewis Chalmers’ delightful pass picked a way through a statuesque Brewers’ backline. Perhaps Boden had too much time to think, as the front man inexcusably failed to even hit the target.
The Silkmen remained the more urgent side and Brisley headed too high as Albion struggled towards the interval.
There was some brief respite, though, as Bolder’s low ball across the face of goal evaded everyone when all it needed was a touch.
Lanky defender Tony Diagne was replaced the yet taller Mukendi at the break, however, the 6-foot-7in attacker was remarkably shown the tunnel without touching the ball, after an aerial challenge left Ryan Austin in a heap.
Albion immediately attempted to seize the initiative with the extra man, but were unable to engineer anything clear cut – in stark contrast to the visitors.
Macclesfield’s mixed approach of neat passing football varied with direct play had caused the hosts problems all afternoon and a long throw paved an opening for Boden to finally get on the scoresheet. With luck evidently not on his side, he stretched to jab over a gaping goal from point-blank range.
There were strong Brewers penalty cries in the 63rd minute when Chalmers blatantly handled as Calvin Zola was about to pull the trigger on a brilliant Kee cross, only to see the shouts waved away by the referee, as a combination of defender and goalkeeper thwarted the Congolese former Crewe man.
Seconds later Albion really should have put the game to bed. John McGrath’s pass sent substitute Jimmy Phillips scampering through on goal, only for the winger to drag his shot past the post with only Veiga to beat.
Waide Fairhurst was the next to try his luck for the battling Silkmen, who found Ross Atkins on top of his game as the on-loan Derby keeper stuck out a hand to turn the ball to safety.
At times, the Brewers were forced to cling on for dear life against Macclesfield’s gallant 10 men, but did manage to muster a few efforts to wrap up the points, in spite of the bitterly disappointing showing.
First, Zola rose to nod Maghoma’s free kick over. Then, Greg Pearson delightfully exchanged passes with Kee, but his low shot from 15 yards parried by Veiga in stoppage time.