The reverse fixture earlier in the season produced a cracking 4-4 game that either team could have won and the Bees were expecting the same again from their hosts.
South Manchester started on the front foot and on another day, could have been 4 up after 10 minutes. The one goal lead would have to do, however, as a goal mouth scramble was eventually finished by Simeon Afonja
creeping in from his left back position.
Macclesfield eventually found their feet and got back into the game with some nice pass and move hockey. Similar to the previous game, the main threat from the home team came from their well worked and organised short corner routines. Only 2 goal line stops from Ashley Critten
and a couple of saves from Dean Colasurdo
maintained the one goal lead.
After Tom Hornsby
was taken out on a one on one chance, a penalty stroke was awarded. However, Mark Smith
didn't connect properly and the effort was straight down the middle, easily saved by the home keeper. Tom Ainsley
also had a great chance from a short corner which just drifted wide. Just as it looked as though Macclesfield would find a way back, including a goal chalked off after a free hit came straight into the D, Jamie Stephenson swept home at the back post to make it 2-0 at the half time break.
The second half was similar to the first with both teams have spells of possession and chances. Once the Bees switched to 4-5-1, they changed to a more counter attacking mentality. Antony Rigby
dominated the right wing, always causing problems whilst Matthew Bottomley
performed his usual anchor role in front of the defence. New signing Ben Gates seemed to fit into the team immediately and full backs Afonja and Alan Leonard
were as vital to the offence as the defence, helping the wingers down the flanks.
With captain Gareth Hampton dropping back in the 4-5-1, the pace of the wings began to tell as well worked passes between himself and Mark Smith
created a chance for Tom Hornsby
to make it 3-0. With minutes remaining, Macclesfield continued their assault but another counter attack and another Tom Hornsby
goal meant the Bees left 4-0 winners.
Some would argue that the score may flatter the match but the Bees were clinical today, a performance from front to back which justifies their league position. Further good news followed as it filtered through top of the league Sale had gone down 4-1 at home, an unexpected result. This mean the Bees are even on points but Sale have a slightly better goal difference. However, with the teams still to play, South Manchester know that 4 wins from 4 games will result in them being crowned champions in just their second year of existence.
Man of the Match Critten after a great defensive performance with Ainsley in a close second place. DoD was awarded to Smith after his penalty miss and struggling to listen to marking orders from the defensive line!