MACCLESFIELD Town continued their impressive end of season form with a 3-1 success over sixth placed Braintree Town at the Moss Rose on Saturday afternoon.
The Silkmen went in front when Danny Whitaker stroked home from the penalty spot after Reece Styche was hauled down by Sam Habergham.
Danny Rowe finished off a swift Macc counter-attack early in the second half and John McCombe’s header ensured the points stayed in Cheshire in spite of Simeon Akinola’s curled finish with just over 10 minutes to play.
The result means John Askey’s side have three wins in a row now, all against sides above them in the table.
Braintree will be disappointed they had an off day at the Moss Rose as even a point would have taken them to equal fifth in the standings after Tranmere’s surprise defeat to Welling United.
The visitors actually had their best spell of the game in the opening stages. Kenny Davis, operating between the lines of Macclesfield’s midfield and defence, was causing the hosts problems. He capitalised on a slack Rowe pass and fed Dan Sparkes but the winger’s bent effort was tipped behind by Shwan Jalal on seven minutes.
After 19 minutes a long bouncing ball was hit into the Macc penalty area and beyond all the home defenders but Michael Cheek miscued at the back post with his body in an awkward position.
The hosts had actually struggled to get much in the way of an attacking threat together when they took the lead on 25 minutes. Whitaker’s corner was flicked on by McCombe in the direction of Styche who would have got a shot away had he not been dragged to the ground by Habergham. Whitaker confidently dispatched from 12 yards, sending Tom King the wrong way.
The rest of the first half saw the Silkmen attempting to double their lead. Jack Sampson did wonderfully to chest into the path of Chris Holroyd, who inexplicably chose to attempt a pass when he appeared to be through on the Iron goal.
George Pilkington headed another Whitaker corner towards goal where Styche appeared to prevent his own side from extending their advantage before Sampson headed straight at King after Rowe impressively carried and clipped into the penalty area and the teams went into the break with the scoreline at 1-0.
If Braintree’s game plan was to keep it tight in the second half then it spectacularly backfired when Macc went 2-0 up just three minutes into the second 45 with a pacy counter-attack. Pilkington intercepted an Iron corner and found Styche who ran deep into the Braintree half and found the run of Rowe who was able to finish the breakaway move by calmly caressing beyond King.
Some inside the Moss Rose thought the visitors had been awarded a penalty of their own when Akinola hit the turf just inside the box but referee Ian Hussin chose to book the attacker for simulation rather than even up the penalty stakes.
Cheek saw a header tipped over by Jalal from point-blank range before the Silkmen secured the points when McCombe headed Whitaker’s corner into an unguarded goal after King had left his line, but failed to meet the flight of the ball.
Danny Cowley, not to be defeatist, attempted to spark life into his Braintree side on the touchline in the hope of achieving a magnificent comeback and they nearly pulled one back when substitute Anthony Edgar carried a long way before shifting to Akinola whose shot was heroically blocked by a flying David Fitzpatrick.
The Iron did get themselves onto the scoresheet with 13 minutes to play when Akinola curled beyond Jalal but it failed to spark a monumental revival for the Essex side.
Macc made three changes at regular intervals in the last 10 minutes which prevented the visitors building any momentum and the game ended with a final score of 3-1.
Macc now have three wins in a row and look a very accomplished side but they will be kicking themselves for a poor start to 2016 which ultimately cost them a play-off berth or the chance of appearing in the FA Trophy final.
Braintree have undeniably worked wonders to be sat sixth in the National League but on this showing the play-offs look a bridge too far for the part-timers as they struggled to contain Danny Rowe this afternoon, whose pace and trickery proved crucial in the Silkmen taking all three points.
Macclesfield Town: Jalal, Halls, Pilkington, McCombe, Fitpatrick, Holroyd, Whitehead, Whitaker (c), Rowe (Templeton 79′), Sampson (Dennis 88′), Styche (Turnbull 81′).
Subs not used: Diagne, Sutherland
Booked: Fitzpatrick, McCombe
Braintree Town: King, Long, Phillips, Fry, Habergham, Fry (Brundle 57′), Davis, Woodyard, Sparkes (Edgar 52′), Akinola, Cheek (Miles 69′).
Subs not used: Marks, Powell
Referee: Ian Hussin (Merseyside)
By Jordan Davies at the Moss Rose