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Silkmen Take Two-Point Lead Into Christmas

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Vanarama National League leaders Macclesfield Town maintained their two-point lead at the top of the table over Christmas, despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Hayes Lane by eighth-placed Bromley on Saturday.

That was because the teams occupying second and third place respectively, Wrexham and Dover Athletic, drew a blank at the Racecourse Ground.

Both sides started on the front foot at Hayes Lane, with Scott Wilson for the Silkmen and Brett Williams for the hosts both going close.

Then, on the half-hour mark, Keith Lowe went close to scoring in his own net, but his header cracked against the crossbar.

But on 38 minutes it was the league leaders who broke the deadlock when Ryan Lloyd headed home from a corner.

On the hour-mark, Bromley came close to levelling when Jack Holland`s header hit the bar and the unfortunate hosts struck the crossbar for a third time on 67 minutes via a George Porter effort.

However, they did manage to pull back on level terms on 70 minutes when a cross found Louis Dennis at the far post ad his shot was deflected past Shwan Jalal.

Bromley had the edge for the final few minutes and will perhaps feel rather unfortunate not to have claimed all three points in the end.

Wrexham were held to a goalless draw by a determined Dover side.

The home side had the better of the game, but chances were few and far between, and defences ultimately prevailed.

Sutton United dropped to fourth after suffering a 3-1 defeat at Gander Green Lane to a Tranmere Rovers side who have now won three league games on the trot and are ninth.

Rovers took an 11th minute lead with a free-kick from Adam Buxton.

But on 25 minutes, the U`s were back on level terms when a Jamie Collins cross was met with a diving header by Kenny Davis.

However, right on the stroke of half-time, Tranmere were back in front when the home defence fail to clear the ball and Connor Jennings hit a firm volley past Jamie Butler.

Sutton tried hard to get back into the game in the second half, with Tommy Wright going close on a couple of occasions.

But the visitors finally killed the game off in the 88th minute when they caught Sutton on the break and Andy Cook squeezed the ball past Butler.

Aldershot Town are fifth, but were held to a 1-1 draw at Nethermoor Park by second-bottom Guiseley AFC.

However, in the end, The Shots will be glad to return to Hampshire with a share of the spoils as it wasn`t until 4 minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game that Shamir Fenelon snatched a point with virtually the last kick of the game following a deep Bernard Mensah cross.

The Lions had led from the 10th minute when James Roberts` free-kick was tipped onto the bar by visiting `keeper Lewis Ward only for Alex Purver to react first to slide the ball over the line.

Dagenham & Redbridge slipped to sixth after going down to a first defeat in five games at home to Eastleigh.

The Spitfires, playing for the first time under the new regime of Andy Hessenthaler as manager and Richard Hill as director of football, were under pressure early on, with Michael Cheek and Morgan Ferrier prominent.

And it came as little surprise when John Still`s side went ahead after 17 minutes when Sam Ling`s run and cross was headed home by Cheek.

Ferrier then had a shot blocked as the Daggers looked to get a second, but against the run of play, the Spitfires equalised in the 32nd minute when Chris Zebroski forced his way into the box and slotted the ball past Mark Cousins.

It was all-square at the break, but shortly after the restart, Eastleigh `keeper Graham Stack saved well from Dan Sparkes, while Paul McCallum went close at the other end.

On the hour-mark, the visitors went in front when good work from Zebroski was finished off by McCallum.

And, despite half-chances for Sparkes and Ling, Eastleigh held on for the spoils.

Boreham Wood, who have been busy in the transfer market this week, are seventh but were held to a goalless draw by bottom side Solihull Moors at the Automated Technology Group Stadium.

Ebbsfleet United and AFC Fylde shared a 1-1 draw at Mill Farm.

It was a hard-fought game in which Fleet looked as though they were heading for all three points.

They finally broke the deadlock 8 minutes into the second half – seconds after a Danny Rowe effort had beaten Fleet `keeper Nathan Ashmore only for Jack Connors to hook the ball off the line – when Danny Kedwell scored his 10th goal of the season to date, heading in Luke Coulson`s cross.

But as stoppage time approached, the Coasters grabbed an equaliser when top scorer Rowe beat Ashmore from 25 yards.

And there was still time for Fylde skipper Sam Finley to see red for two bookings in the 4th added minute.

Maidenhead United came from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Victoria Ground and consign Hartlepool United to a fifth successive defeat.

The home side had taken a 28th minute lead through Jake Cassidy, who headed a Nicky Deverdics cross past Carl Pentney.

But the visitors grabbed an equaliser 7 minutes into the second half, breaking forward for Sean Marks to beat Scott Loach.

And then on 77 minutes, the Magpies took the lead after Loach had saved from Harry Pritchard, Marks nipped to send the rebound back past the Pools keeper.

Leyton Orient claimed a third successive victory as they ran out 2-0 winners at the Gallagher Stadium against Maidstone United.

Defender Bondz N’Gala opened the scoring on the 36th minute to give the O’s the advantage at the break.

And Macauley Bonne grabbed his 13th goal of the season 7 minutes after half-time to seal the win.

The O`s are now six points above the drop zone.

Meanwhile, Barrow AFC`s fine away form continued on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at Kingfield against Woking, and they are a place above the O`s and a point better off.

Barrow got off to the perfect start when Moussa Diarra opened the scoring after just 2 minutes with a header from a corner.

The home side equalised on 21 minutes through Charlie Carter.

But Barrow were back in front just 7 minutes later and it was another defender in Jimmy Dunne who found the back of the net with a header.

The visitors defended well after that and managed the game excellently and have now won five successive matches on the road since Ady Pennock took over as manager.

FC Halifax Town moved up to fourteenth in the table after inflicting a 4-0 drubbing on fourth-bottom Chester FC at The Shay.

Tom Denton gave the Shaymen an early 6th minute lead that Scott McManus doubled after 28 minutes.

Five minutes later, it was virtually game over already as Danny Clarke made it 3-0.

And Josh Macdonald put Halifax into a commanding half-time lead with a fourth goal on 38 minutes.

The second half was a low key affair as they often are when a team has a lead as commanding as that.

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About Author

Former Swansea City and Kettering Town defender who has been managing the likes of Kettering Town u18s, Rothwell Town, Desborough Town and Wellingborough Town for 33 years as well as being technical director at AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Began in non-League journalism as editor of Team Talk magazine back in the early 1990s and then as editor of Non-League Daily, joining Pitchero to set up Pitchero Non-League in January 2011. Also works for the National League.

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