MACCLESFIELD Town’s mid-season slump continued on Tuesday night against relegation-threatened Torquay United at the Moss Rose.
Nathan Blissett’s brace either side of Kristian Dennis’ smart finish ensured the Gulls moved to within five points of Vanarama National League safety.
The Silkmen are now without a league win since the January 2 and haven’t gained three points on home soil since mid-November, which has curtailed their play-off bid.
The Gulls came to the Moss Rose looking to stretch their winning streak in the National League to three games following their morale-boosting victories over Welling United and Boreham Wood and they went in-front with the first chance of the game.
A long ball over the top was not dealt with by either Macclesfield centre-back Tony Diagne or goalkeeper Shwan Jalal and that indecision allowed Nathan Blissett to poke the ball goal wards. The Torquay forward then beat Jalal in a foot-race and bundled into the unguarded goal in the 19th minute.
Macc tried to grab a foothold in the game but were struggling to create clear-cut chances without the injured duo of Danny Rowe and Chris Holroyd.
The Silkmen had their first real chance of the game on 35 minutes, Danny Whitaker, playing in an unfamiliar right side of midfield position due to Holroyd’s absence, crossed in for top scorer Dennis to head goalwards but the effort was tipped over by Dan Lavercombe in the Gulls goal.
John Askey’s men did manage to draw themselves level just two minutes before the interval when Danny Whitehead managed to recycle a Paul Turnbull corner back to the Macc captain whose second effort was touched home by Dennis.
The half-time break probably came at the wrong time for the Silkmen as any momentum Dennis’ goal had given them was dashed and it was the visitors who came out of the traps fastest in the second 45.
Just two minutes after the restart Josh Rees slipped in Durrell Berry whose goalbound effort was remarkably kept out by Jalal, but it was only a temporary reprieve for the hosts as Blissett rose highest to nod home Danny Racchi’s resulting corner.
Five minutes later and Kevin Nicholson’s men had a glorious chance to double their advantage. Toby Ajala capitalised on slack control from Diagne and raced clear on goal, Ajala then chose to try and round Jalal but the Iranian goalkeeper was wise to the move and forced the attacker wide of goal.
Blissett cannoned a header against the crossbar as the Gulls strived for a third goal before John Askey sought to change the flow of the game by introducing attackers Reece Styche and Theo Bailey-Jones, the latter for his first appearance of the season after injury.
As rain of biblical proportions lashed down at the Moss Rose, Macc were pushing for an equaliser. Styche stole possession on the edge of the penalty area and shot straight at Lavercombe before Bailey-Jones fired a snapshot just past the post.
Gulls substitute Andre Wright bent an effort inches wide on 69 minutes and just 60 seconds later Dennis dragged an excellent chance wide after being rolled through by Whitehead.
The last 20 minutes saw Torquay happy to protect their lead and Macc struggle to break down their resolute opponents. A Turnbull corner was nodded back across goal by George Pilkington only for Dennis to head wide in one of very few chances the hosts created in the closing stages.
Macc could have snatched a point at the very last when deep into stoppage time Styche cut-back for Whitehead to blast towards goal but Lavercombe was equal to the effort and the Gulls made the very long journey back to Devon with three precious points in their bid for National League safety.
For Macclesfield it was another frustrating day (or night) at the office and a poor way to prepare for their Cheshire derby at Altrincham on Saturday, although that may well provide the perfect opportunity for the Silkmen to turn their fortunes around.
Macclesfield Town: Jalal, Halls, Diagne (McCombe ’80), Pilkington, Turnbull (C), Whitaker (Bailey-Jones ’57), Lewis (Styche ’57), Whitehead, Phillips, Dennis
Subs not used: Cowan, Branagan
Torquay United: Lavercombe, Berry, Butler, MacDonald, Smith, Racchi, Richards, Ajala (Wright ’64), Rees (Verma ’78), Harrad, Blissett
Subs not used: Fisher, Gerring, Chaney
Referee: Mr Adrian Holmes
Attendance: 1,022 (84 visitors)
By Jordan Davies at the Moss Rose