However, it was no great surprise when Macclesfield took the lead two minutes later. A close-range effort by Whitaker was superbly saved by Tardif, Narada had ample opportunity to hack the ball clear but instead tripped over it to leave the visitor’s striker a simple tap-in.
We tried to hit back straight away and Steve Fletcher missed what looked like a simple header. Then O’Connor found Hayter with a beautiful through-ball, but the Cherries’ striker took one touch too many and Wilson was able to make a vital save.
However, the visitors were still looking the better side and deservedly went further ahead after 43 minutes. They were given too much room on the left and once again Tardif did well to stop a shot from Dunning. However, the ball rebounded to Priest who drilled it into the net from the edge of the area.
Elliott soon had a chance but blasted over just before the break, bringing to an end what was surely one of our worst first-half performances of the season.
It had to get better in the second half…. and it did. We started playing with a lot more commitment and looking as if we might get something out of the game. However, it took a double substitution in the 54th minute to really make a difference. O’Connor and Thomas were replaced by Stock and Feeney respectively, and we began putting the hitherto well-organised Macclesfield defence under some intense pressure. The reward came after 68 minutes when Browning found Elliott just inside the box on the right with a delightful chip. Wader struck the ball early with his left foot, totally wrong-footing Wilson and finding the far corner of the net.
However, the best goal of the game was yet to come. Just five minutes later, Supafletch played the ball through for Hayter to run onto. Evading the attentions of two defenders, the Cherries’ striker kept his balance and crashed the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the box.
A great comeback and still time to get the winner. A few half-chances came and went, but the visitors had enough nous to take the heat out of the game and hold on for a well-deserved point.
So the wheels nearly came off the wagon today. We got what we deserved in the first half, proving that we’re not good enough to get away with playing as poorly as we did. However, we showed a lot of determination in the second half and we’re still in the race.
AFCB: Tardif, Purches, Narada (Buxton 78), Tindall, C.Fletcher, Browning, O’Connor (Stock 54), Elliott, Thomas (Feeney 54), S.Fletcher Hayter
Subs not used: Blayney, Holmes
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey