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Dramatic Finale Sees Silkmen Draw – Chester Are Relegated

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A dramatic encounter at lunchtime for the live BT Sport cameras saw Vanarama National League leaders Macclesfield Town lead 2-0 before being pegged back to 2-2 by play-off chasing hosts Ebbsfleet United.

To add to the drama, the Silkmen were reduced to ten-men in the 73rd minute when striker Nathan Blissett was somewhat controversially dismissed.

However, Macc boss John Askey would probably have settled for a point ahead of kick-off at the Kuflink Stadium but will still be disappointed his side didn`t stretch their advantage, especially after seeing second-placed Sutton United beaten at AFC Fylde later on.

The Silkmen took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Scott Burgess` surge into the box was half-stopped by keeper Nathan Ashmore, but the ball ran to Blissett and he duly put the ball into the net from close range.

It was fairly even up to half-time after that, but on the hour-mark, the visitors went two-up and were coasting – Danny Whitaker`s corner falling perfectly for former Fleet man Tyrone Marsh to stoop and head past Ashmore.

But with 20 minutes remaining, Fleet were handed a lifeline when Macclesfield `keeper Shwan Jalal was adjudged to have brought down Danny Kedwell, who dusted himself down before placing the resulting penalty past Jalal.

Three minutes later came the sending-off incident when Blissett ran into Fleet defender Dave Winfield who, it appeared, seemed to simply stand his ground.

The clash caused Winfield to suffer a cut to his head, but the dismissal seemed harsh on seeing it replayed.

It certainly gave the home side a boost and they equalised just 5 minutes later when Dean Rance got hold of the ball and fired a beauty past Jalal from the edge of the area.

Jalal saved well from Kedwell as Fleet looked for the winner but, despite 7 minutes of stoppage time, the Silkmen held on for a crucial point which became even more important when news came later that nearest rivals Sutton had lost 2-1 at Mill Farm against play-off contenders AFC Fylde.

The U`s started the game well and Coasters` keeper Jay Lynch made an excellent save to deny Tommy Wright in the 8th minute.

But he was powerless to stop the visitors` striker 12 minutes later when Wright beat the defence for pace before finishing well past Lynch into the bottom corner of the net.

Things settled down after that and Dave Challinor`s side began to get a foothold in the match without managing to find an equaliser.

That eventually came in the 77th minute when sub Serhat Tasdemir controlled the ball well and sent Jonny Smith clear and his shot deflected over Sutton `keeper Jamie Butler into the back of the net.

The momentum was now with the Coasters and 3 minutes later, an error in the Sutton defence gave top marksman Danny Rowe the chance one-on-one with Butler and he caresses the ball into the bottom right corner.

Sutton almost grabbed a late leveller though in the 88th minute when a terrific solo run from Terrell Thomas brought a terrific close save from Lynch.

Macclesfield now lead the table by ten points, while AFC Fylde are seventh, a point in front of Dover Athletic.

Aldershot Town are third, a point behind Sutton, after a last-gasp win over Maidenhead United.

Nicke Kabamba headed an 89th minute winner as the Shots took a vital three points at the EBB Stadium.

The home side had the lions` share of possession but were held at bay by some determined defending by the mid-table Magpies.

But the breakthrough finally arrived in the last minute of normal time when a cross from Callum Reynolds went over everybody until sub Kabamba arrived at the far post to direct a diving header past Carl Pentney.

Tranmere Rovers are fourth, but the big news was their 2-0 win at the Swansway Chester Stadium condemned neighbours Chester FC to relegation.

Despite Guiseley AFC being below them, Chester have played two more games and cannot now make up the ground on the teams holding the safety-mark, with Solihull Moors` win at Hartlepool United proving decisive.

It brought to an end another miserable week for Chester on and off the pitch with manager Marcus Bignot being informed his contract wasn`t to be renewed at the end of the season.

And things didn’t get any better on the pitch as Micky Mellon’s side ran out comfortable 2-0 victors with goals from Andy Cook in first half injury-time and then James Norwood in the 64th minute.

Boreham Wood`s top seven hopes took a blow as FC Halifax Town earned a crucial 2-1 win at The Shay to lift them to 50 points and probable safety.

Matty Brown headed the Shaymen in front after 20 minutes.

Morgan Ferrier eventually pulled Wood back on level terms 8 minutes into the second half.

But Mike Fondop-Talom restored Halifax`s lead after 64 minutes.

And as no team in the National League had lost fewer away games or conceded fewer away goals than Boreham Wood, the win was all the more impressive for the Shaymen.

Wrexham are level on points with Wood after being denied victory at the Silverlake Stadium by ten-man Eastleigh deep into stoppage time.

The visitors took a 20th minute lead from the spot when Scott Quigley had been fouled.

He got up to convert the resulting penalty.

In got worse for the Spitfires in the 68th minute when they had defender Andy Boyce dismissed for a second bookable offence.

But in the 4th minute of time added on at the end of the game, Ryan Cresswell popped up with Eastleigh`s equaliser.

Dover Athletic maintained their play-off challenge after seeing off nine-man Torquay United at Crabble.

All the major action came in the final half-hour or so.

Dover broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when Connor Evans was adjudged to have handled in the box and Ryan Bird converted his 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot.

The Gulls task was made even harder when Rhys Healey was shown a second yellow card following a rash challenge on Connor Essam after 63 minutes.

However, the ten-men forced Dover keeper Mitch Walker into two fine saves from Luke Young and then Josh Gowling before they were reduced to nine-men in stoppage time time as Elliott Romain was shown a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Giancarlo Gallifuoco.

The battle to avoid joining Chester in the National League North or South next season is really hotting up.

Bottom-markers Guiseley are still alive – just – as they shared a 0-0 draw with fellow strugglers Maidstone United at Nethermoor Park.

The Stones, who haven`t won away from the Gallagher Stadium in the league since October, are now six points in front of Barrow and both have six games remaining.

And Maidstone almost won it near the end when Joe Anderson’s strike hit the crossbar.

Barrow, meanwhile, suffered a 4-1 defeat at the Matchroom Stadium against a Leyton Orient side for whom this was a third successive win.

An early 7th minute Luke James goal from the Bluebirds was cancelled out by Dan Jones` own goal after 28 minutes.

A goal from Josh Koroma on 72 minutes restored the O`s lead and Jones` day went from bad to worse when he was red-carded 6 minutes later, moments after being booked for what appeared to be dissent.

A late Macauley Bonne brace in the 90th and 93rd minutes sealed the O`s win.

On a day where Hartlepool United were finally celebrating Raj Singh’s takeover, Matthew Bates` side were dealt a late sucker punch by a Solihull Moors side who finally climbed out of the bottom four.

Adi Yussuf scored an 88th minute winner for Moors when he netted a Darren Carter corner from close range.

Pools remain seven points clear of the drop, while Solihull are now three points in front of Barrow but have played a game more.

Woking, with legendary former boss Geoff Chapple back in temporary charge following the departure of Anthony Limbrick, are still in trouble, but picked up a useful point from a 1-1 draw at Victoria Road against mid-table Dagenham & Redbridge.

The Cards fell behind as early as the 9th minute when Dan Sparkes curled a lovely free-kick past Nathan Baxter.

But the visitors managed to find a leveller 2 minutes after half-time when Josh Staunton headed home a corner.

And they held firm to record a point which leaves them four points above Barrow but have played two more matches.

The day`s other game between Bromley and Gateshead at the H2T Group Stadium finished goalless.

The hosts, Buildbase FA Trophy finalists of course, really needed a win to keep alive their outside hopes of mounting a top seven challenge.

They are now eight points behind AFC Fylde with two games in hand.


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