After a hectic Christmas period, there were wholesale changes amongst the Cardiff City line-up for their third round F.A Cup tie at Macclesfield Town. After an end-to-end first half and with the scores remaining level at 0-0, home hopes had strengthened going into the second half.
Hopes of an upset started to wither away after fifty-seven minutes though when Declan John set up Nat Jarvis to put City 1-0 up. Macclesfield did not give up though and on eighty-five minutes the tie seemed to be heading for a replay when Matthew Barnes-Homer equalised for the Blues. A replay was not going to be needed though as the Blue Square Premier side found an unlikely winner from the penalty spot after Jarvis was judged to have hand-balled in the area. Barnes-Homer stepped up and sent Macclesfield Town into the fourth round draw.
City kicked the game off with the large away following behind them and they almost got off to the perfect start when Etien Velikonja neatly played in Nat Jarvis. Jarvis calmly placed the ball into Lance Cronin’s net but the flag was already raised for offside. Nonetheless it was encouraging signs for the inexperienced City line-up.
Macclesfield were certainly not giving the side eighty-one places above them too much respect and were looking to create chances of their own. After net build up play they forced a corner. The home fans were disappointed as the delivery hit the first man and was cleared with ease.
Malky Mackay’s side started to get a strong foothold in the game as the quarter of an hour mark was approaching. After a decent spell of possession Filip Kiss was hacked down twenty-five yards from goal. Stephen McPhail stepped up to take the set piece but his strike deflected off the wall straight into the hands of the Macclesfield 'keeper.
Joe Lewis was called upon for the first time in the match after twenty minutes. Some sloppy passing midway in their own half by City allowed Charlie Henry to intercept the ball. He drove forward and fired a shot goalwards from just outside the penalty area. Lewis gathered the ball with relative ease as the shot was struck down the centre of the target.
Cardiff continued to push forward but at this moment in the game they could not find the clinical touch in the final third. The Silkmen were not looking t sit back themselves and it was turning into an end-to-end affair. With both sides having an attacking mentality gaps were starting to appear. It was the home side who almost benefitted. John Paul Kissock slotted the ball through the Cardiff defence looking for the onrushing Amari Morgan-Smith. Morgan-Smith looked to be one on one with the keeper but a timely intervention from Adedeji Oshilaja quelled any danger.
Still complying with the end-to-end pattern of the half City then went up the other end and look to create a chance of their own. Nugent still in a forward position from an earlier corner found himself winning a header and forcing Cronin to dive low to make a save.
The best chance of the half so far then fell to the Silkmen. A delivery from wide left had evaded all City defenders and found its way to Charlie Henry on the back post. Henry snatched at the ball, maybe not expecting it to reach and squandered a golden opportunity as a scuffed the ball wide.
Joe Ralls seemed to be the instigator of any attack City were producing and on forty-one minutes he was key to a near breakthrough. After driving from half way to around thirty yards from goal he found Declan John ahead of him. Despite an attempt to bring john down he stayed on his feet and carried on into the box. His cross however was parried away for a corner on the near post by goalkeeper Cronin.
With only one minute left in the half the home fans roared for a penalty. Oshilaja had muscled Morgan-Smith off the ball in a it was way that the officials deemed legal, much to the dismay of a vocal home support. The whistle blew to mark the end of the half soon after and once again; the home support let the officials know what they thought of their decision as they booed them off the field. After a good half of football the score line remained goalless.
HALF TIME: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0–0 CARDIFF CITY
It was the home side who were to start the second half the brightest. Ben Nugent was forced to make an important block early on. Two dangerous corners followed but the City defence proved up to the challenge.
City came to life on the hour mark. Velikonja made a darting run into the opposition half and some slick passing in midfield resulted in a ball being played for Declan John. John just managed to keep the ball in play on the by-line, squared it across to Nat Jarvis who dinked it home under Lance Cronin.
GOAL: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0–1 CARDIFF CITY (NAT JARVIS, 57 mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Luke Coulson on for Kevin McNaughton (58 mins)
City almost made it 2-0 only a couple of minutes later. After some failed deliveries into the area it fell to Stephen McPhail on the edge of the area. The ball was heading towards the roof of the net but a fine save from Lance Cronin kept the deficit at just the one goal.
Macclesfield Town Sunbstitution: Jack Mackreth on for Charlie Henry (61 mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Tommy O’Sullivan on for Kadeem Harris (64 mins)
Macclesfield Town Substitution: Peter Winn on for Carl Martin (66 mins)
The Silkmen were not feeling sorry for themselves and were looking for the equaliser. They forced a corner but all other chances were coming from some distance away from goal. The class of Cardiff was slowly starting to appear and the chances were too. A powerful shot from Filip Kiss cannoned off a defender and landed at the feet of Declan John who’s effort safely found its way into the arms of the Macc;lesfield keeper.
Macclesfield Town Substitution: Waide Fairhurst on for Amari Morgan-Smith (71 mins)
Cardiff City Substitution: Theo Wharton on for Filip Kiss (72 mins)
With little more than ten minutes remaining in the tie there was a moment of madness for Lance Cronin. As he came for the ball near the right touchline, the busy Velikonja dispossessed him. His snapshot half volley went agonisingly wide of the far post. This was the cue for the Silkmen to come back into the tie. First came an effort from top scorer Matthew Barnes-Homer, though his shot found the side netting. They then had a number of runs into the area but the partnership of Oshilaja and Ben Nugent still stood firm.
The Silkmen then had another penalty shout turned down when Craig Braham-Barrett dribbled in-between John and Oshilaja and went to ground. Not for the first time in the game the referee held his arms out and signalled play on. The home side continued to throw men forward with the minutes ticking away. The ball was worked down the right flank and Jack Mackreth played a tantalising cross towards the back post, though the ball landed at the feet of Matthew Barnes Homer who gladly placed the ball passed Joe Lewis.
GOAL: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 1 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (MATTHEW BARNES-HOMER, 85 mins)
Macclesfield did not seem happy with the prospects of a replay and once again continued to push forward. With six minutes left on the clock they were awarded a free kick in the Cardiff half. Pablo Mills played a lofted ball into the area, and the referee pointed to the spot. He had given a penalty for a handball offence against Nat Jarvis.
Barnes-Homer picked up the ball looking for his second of the evening. He confidently stepped up and unleashed a rocket of a shot into the bottom left corner.
GOAL: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 2 – 1 CARDIFF CITY (MATTHEW BARNES-HOMER, 88 mins)
There was still time for Cardiff to get a goal back as the fourth official indicated that there was to be five minutes of added time. A late free kick pumped into the box was all the visitors could muster but nothing was to come from it. The upset was complete and Cardiff City’s priorities now lie solely on the Championship campaign.
FULL TIME: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 2 – 1 CARDIFF CITY