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Macclesfield Town 0, Wrexham 1

MACCLESFIELD TOWN manager David Moss praised Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble for a performance that provided the platform for the Dragons' first away victory of the season on Saturday.

MACCLESFIELD TOWN manager David Moss praised Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Dibble for a performance that provided the platform for the Dragons' first away victory of the season on Saturday.

The veteran 'keeper earned his wages with a couple of excellent saves in the opening period and then kept his side in the hunt for the points with another after second-half substitute Kyle Lightbourne threatened to turn the tide in favour of the Silkmen.

Just five minutes later, Trinidad international Hector Sam popped up to grab his second goal of the season to put Wrexham, with their unbeaten run preserved, on their way to the top of the third division table.

And, although we are only four games into the new season, that's where Racecourse boss Denis Smith wants to be.

He watched with pride as his players ground out a result in the face of a determined assault and also has the satisfaction of knowing that the team is not yet firing on all cylinders.

Any neutrals in the sparse crowd would have felt that Macclesfield, who have yet to win at Moss Rose this season, deserved at least a point for their efforts as they forced their opponents to defend in depth for long periods but Moss, who might have done better by playing replacements Lightbourne and tricky winger Lee Hardy from the start, admitted that his players failed to take their chances.

"I admit the home problems are a worry," he said afterwards.

"I try to play it down a bit because it serves no psychological purpose to sit and fret about it. I'm obviously disappointed to have picked up only one point from a possible six but I feel we performed well in both games.

"We need to be able to finish off the opposition when the chances come along and we had them today. Dibble played very well and made a few top-class saves but we were beaten by a soft goal."

Sam's 68th minute winner took a deflection as it beat goalkeeper Steve Wilson and Moss added: "He looked like he was going to collect it comfortably but it took a deflection and went past him.

"It's very annoying because that's three goals we've conceded from deflections like that this season. I said when it happened that Dibble's save from Lightbourne could be a match-winner and unfortunately I was proved right."

No-one could argue that the home side created the better chances but Wrexham, who were second-best in the first half, picked up the pace after the break and looked a more assured outfit once they had got their noses in front.

And while Dibble earned plaudits from the Macclesfield boss, it was their defensive unit as a whole which kept them on course for the win. Dennis Lawrence was a commanding figure at the back, bringing the best out of youngsters Shaun Pejic and Steve Roberts, and Shaun Holmes also made a significant contribution.

Not surprisingly, Darren Ferguson, in his first appearance of the season following suspension, looked slightly rusty, but he lasted the pace well and became a more influential figure once the visitors had taken the lead, while striker Lee Trundle worked tremendously hard to keep the Macclesfield defence on their guard throughout.

Dibble was called upon after just six minutes to deny Lee Glover as the home side made an enterprising start but both teams cancelled each other out for long spells and Wrexham's first effort on goal did not arrive until the 26th minute when Trundle's shot on the turn was easily saved by the home goalkeeper.

Macclesfield might have taken the lead six minutes later through former Chester City man Chris Priest but Dibble turned away his effort for the first of three successive corners, which put the visitors under sustained pressure for the first time. But they survived and it was anyone's game at the interval.

What Smith told his players in the dressing room obviously had an galvanising effect because they stepped up a gear and Trundle might have done better when he got on the end of a perceptive Ferguson through ball before Steve Thomas brought a fine save from Wilson after driving a low cross into the six-yard box.

Trundle then had a shot blocked after Ferguson's corner was headed down by Lawrence before the home side hit back through Lightbourne, a 58th-minute replacement for Glover.

The former Walsall striker collected Steve Hitchen's pass to hit a superb shot, which not only tested Dibble's reactions to the limit but also, as Moss said afterwards, proved to be the crucial moment of the game.

Five minutes later another Wrexham corner caused mayhem in the home defence and, although Carlos Edwards saw his initial effort blocked, fellow countryman, Sam, who had been on the field for just seven minutes after Andy Morrell was withdrawn, scored the allimportant goal, his shot taking a slight deflection on its way into the net.

The disappointing Priest made way for Hardy as Macclesfield went into a more offensive mode and the little winger carved out two chances, the best of which Karl Munroe headed wide from a promising situation.

But the visitors were by now in control and their margin of victory should have been made more comfortable when a flowing move three minutes from time presented Thomas with a gilt-edged opportunity which he drove inches wide of the goal.

Wrexham defender Steve Roberts afterwards summed up the gutsy performance by saying: "It was a very tough game and we knew it was going to be like that but we battled hard and we had to deal with a lot of free-kicks towards the end."

And he admitted that Lightbourne's efforts stretched he and his colleagues to the limit. "They put us under a lot of pressure but I thought we defended really well," he added.

"Lightbourne is good in the air but we knew about him before we came here and as long as you defend the second balls well, which I thought we did, then they are not going to cause you any problems.

"This was an important win for us, especially going into another game as soon as Monday. We needed a result today and we got it by playing really well."

MACCLESFIELD TOWN: Wilson; Hitchen, Adams, Tinson, Priest (Hardy, 71), Topton ( Askey, 83), Glover (Lightbourne, 58), Whitaker, Welch, O'Neill, Munroe. Subs: Martin, Ridler.

WREXHAM: Dibble; Whitley, Holmes, Roberts, Lawrence, C Edwards (Bennett, 76) Trundle, Morrell (Sam, 61), Ferguson, Pejic, Thomas. Subs: Rogers, P Edwards, Morgan.

BOOKED: Macclesfield's Hitchen and Welch; Wrexham's Holmes and Trundle.

REFEREE: Colin Webster (Co Durham).



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