Macclesfield 0 Shrewsbury Town 1 - match report

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The Shrewsbury Town high-fives and collective back-slapping which greeted the full-time whistle said it all.

The Shrewsbury Town high-fives and collective back-slapping which greeted the full-time whistle said it all.

At first glance, Saturday's slender victory at Macclesfield will not immediately stand out as a highlight result of the season.

Neither will it be remembered as a particularly eye-catching performance.

But if Shrewsbury are to be celebrating the ultimate goal of promotion next May, it is the type of display they will have to re-produce more than once over the coming nine months.

It was a day in which the entertainers became the grinders, the visitors digging deep to ensure their first away game of the season brought a maximum reward.

The stylish showings which accounted for Bradford and Charlton were replaced by an altogether more workmanlike effort.

In short, it was just what the doctor ordered after the dream start of a Matt Harrold goal inside three minutes.

For while the tall, powerful Silkmen saw plenty of the ball, it is difficult to remember Shrewsbury's two goalkeepers of the day — Ben Smith was replaced by Chris Neal after 21 minutes due to injury — ever truly being extended beyond comfortable saves.


Much of that was down to a resilient defence which produced a first clean sheet of the campaign.

So often were they required to produce aerial clearances, central defenders Ian Sharps and Daniel O'Donnell may well have ended the afternoon nursing sore heads.


But they formed a formidable barrier at the heart of a defence which didn't look like being breached until O'Donnell was forced to clear a Hamza Bencherif effort off the line in second half injury time, after a save from Neal rebounded off the Macclesfield substitute.


With full-backs Mat Sadler and David Raven looking composed and assured, this was the clear pick of the defensive displays from Shrewsbury's opening week of the season.

Sadler was also to find time to play a major part in the match-winning moment at the other end of the pitch.

He went on a jinking run before pulling the ball back to Harrold who rifled home a left foot shot from 10 yards to give the visitors the perfect start.

Shrewsbury looked comfortable during those early stages, but gradually Macclesfield began to enjoy their fair share of possession.

It could be argued the hosts finished the first half the stronger but, to Shrewsbury's credit, Macclesfield were always restriced to long-range efforts on goal as Town defended their 18-yard box assuradley.

Shrewsbury carried a more penetrating threat after the break, launching impressive counter-attacks as the gaps began to open up.

Mark Wright twice curled efforts just off target as he cut in from the left flank, while substitute Benjamin van den Broek looked a major threat when he was introduced as a replacement for opening-day hat trick hero Jake Robinson.

The Dutchman produced two well struck shots from distance, the second of which drew applause from supporters of both sides as it thudded back off the crossbar, inches from a goal of the season contender.

But one goal proved to be enough for Shrewsbury to complete the dream first week.

Three games, three victories and now the art of winning without being at their free-flowing best mastered.

Life remains very rosy in the garden of Graham Turner and his team.

Match analysis by JAMES GARRISON

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