VANARAMA National League side Macclesfield Town, held League One Oxford United to a feisty 0-0 draw in the Emirates FA Cup second round at Moss Rose on Friday evening. 

Two divisions separate the sides with United sat 14th in League One and the Silkmen consolidated at 11th in the fifth tier of English football.

But it was the hosts who created the best opportunities on the night with striker Chris Holroyd going close in the first half, before winger Jack Mackreth crashed an effort against the post deep in the second half.

The two sides will both feature in Monday’s savoured third round draw with details of the replay yet to be announced.

The National League side went into the game having pulled off the shock of the first round, beating League One Walsall away from home, to earn themselves the BBC-televised Friday night FA Cup fixture privilege.

Oxford, who made the three-hour journey North the morning of the game, started slowly and were second to every ball.

Danny Rowe started wide left and his inverted style caused havoc for Oxford as his direct nature, along with Mackreth, saw a busy night’s work for the visitors’ full-backs.

John McCombe, the hero for the Silkmen in the first round, almost tore up the second round script midway through the first half when his overhead effort went marginally wide following a sustained spell of home pressure.

Attacking midfielder Paul Lewis then carved out an opportunity that, upon reflection, was wasted given Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood was rooted to his spot as the strike was blazed over.

Michael Appleton’s side reached the fourth round last season but were fortunate to still be in this tie, such was the dominance of John Askey’s side.

They did, however, have their own clear-cut chances as former Kidderminster Harriers defender Chey Dunkley rattled the post.

The non-league side will have no fear in the replay but may well think their best opportunity is behind them after such a dominant display at the fortress that is the Moss Rose.

Macclesfield Town winger Jack Mackreth: “I thought we deserved to win the game to be honest with you. I think we can go there and test them now.

“The gaffer has been on at me to get on the back post and I’m just gutted it didn’t go in! I thought hit the target and it goes in but on another day it does.

“We worked on a few set-pieces in training but I thought the movement was good today and our experience showed. [Playing 4-2-3-1] gives me and [Danny] Rowe a bit more freedom and space.

“The gaffer just said at half-time, believe in yourselves and go out and win the game and we gave everything to do that.”

Macclesfield Town manager John Askey: “Yeah I think on another occasion we could have got the win. I thought overall we did really well. Created a lot of chances but it was just the final finish.

“I couldn’t have asked anymore of the players. I don’t think the gap [between Vanarama and Football League] is as big anymore. We showed against Walsall and Oxford tonight that we’ve got good players.

“It will be very difficult because on home soil they will be a different proposition but we go there with nothing to lose.”

Macclesfield Town: Ross; Halls, Pilkington, McCombe, Fitzpatrick; Whitaker, Hancox; Rowe, Lewis, Mackreth; Holroyd.

Unused substitutes: Byrne, Sampson, Cowan, James, Sutherland, Madeley, Cook.

Booked: Hancox.

Oxford United: Eastwood; Edwards, Martin, Dunkley, Skarz (51′ Ruffells); MacDonald, Ledson, Rothwell (64′ Taylor), Johnson; Roberts (79′ Hemmings), Maguire.

Unused substitutes: Buchel, Hall, Carroll, Welch-Hayes.

Booked: Dunkley, Johnson.

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