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17 August 2013

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Guttridge late show earned Hatters a point

Luke Guttridge’s equaliser seven minutes into injury time rescued the Town a point against Macclesfield at Kenilworth Road.

The visitors looked as though they would hold on for victory after an accomplished performance against an out-of-sorts Town following Chris Holroyd’s goal mid-way through the second half.

But when it looked as the Hatters would lose for the second time in their opening three games, Guttridge popped up to bring the score level.

Macclesfield players sunk to their feet at after the leveller and the Town rejoiced at their last-gasp escape, but in truth the visitors would have been well worth victory had they held on.

John Askey’s side spurned a whole host of chance and the Hatters were indebted to a number of fine saves from Mark Tyler to prevent the Silkmen from forging further ahead – and that proved to be crucial when Guttridge coolly rolled home the equaliser at the death.

Following Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Salisbury John Still was able to call upon Ronnie Henry, Andre Gray and Alex Lacey with Mark Cullen, the injured Anthony Charles and Jonathan Smith dropping to the bench.

The Hatters started brightly, with some eye-catching passing going forward but they failed to test Rhys Taylor in the Silkmen goal in the opening 15 minutes.

Tyler, meanwhile, applied the faintest of fingertips to a low shot from Holroyd to divert the ball away from goal.

By now the visitors were well on top and a cross-cum-shot from Andy Halls rattled the Town woodwork on 22 minutes as the Silkmen upped the pressure.

Tyler again had to be alert on the half-hour keeping out Scott Boden’s low effort from a narrow angle after Peter Winn’s left-wing cross was floated to the back-post.

Former Hatter John Paul Kissock was his typical flamboyant self with a series of flicks, dummies and Cruyff turns as he went about unlocking his former employer’s defence.

However, the Town ended the first half on top and Guttridge came close to breaking the deadlock five minutes before the interval when his header was turned away by Evans following Shaun Whalley’s corner.

Gray, starting his first match of the season, came even closer moments later. Beating Steve Williams for pace down the left, he raced into the area and unleashed a powerful shot that came back off the inside of the post and away to safety to the relief of the visitors.

It was all the Town and they probably had wished the half-time whistle hadn’t blown such was their dominance and Jon Shaw tested Evans again with a near-post effort on the stroke of half-time following Henry’s right-wing cross.

However, after the break it was Macclesfield that took the game to the Town and the visitors should have taken the lead on 48 minutes when Kissock’s effort was parried by Tyler and Boden fluffed the rebound with the goal gaping.

A minute later the Hatters had penalty claims when Whalley was sent tumbling in the box but the referee remained unconvinced.

But it was Macclesfield were enjoying the better of the play and Holroyd was denied by a sprawling save from Tyler after the striker had sped clear of the Town defence.

John Still sent on Jake Howells for Dave Martin on the hour but, after Boden crashed a shot into the side-netting, the visitors deservedly took the lead on 63 minutes. Kissock was involved, sending a low cross into the penalty area, and Holroyd swept in a low shot that crept into the bottom corner past the outstretched Tyler.

The Town huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser but Macclesfield should have doubled their lead on 69 minutes when Holroyd burst through again only to shoot over the advancing Tyler.

With 20 minutes left Gray saw a shot cleared off the line by Macc defender Danny Andrew with substitute Mark Cullen sniffing for the rebound, and three minutes later Guttridge sent a header straight into the hands of Evans after Shaw had knocked down Howells’ cross.

Holroyd missed what would be Macclesfield’s final chance with 13 minutes left and should have done better then shooting straight at Tyler after another pass from Kissock.

Half chances, but nothing more, fell the Town’s way as time ticked down, and it looked for all the world as though the visitors would celebrate their first victory of the season but, seven minutes into stoppage time Guttridge struck. Shaw flicked on a high pass forward, Gray shielded the ball and Guttridge took over and took a touch before sliding the ball past the exposed Evans and a point was the Town’s.

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