Osman strike reminds Town of gap in class

Macclesfield Town 0 Everton 1
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The Independent Online

Macclesfield came frustratingly close to being in the FA Cup's fourth-round draw for the first time as they threatened to embarrass Everton on Saturday.

Their substitute Simon Yeo hit a fierce shot for what would have been the equaliser with the last kick of the match had not the Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who had been largely unemployed in the second half, shown his powers of concentration with an alert and acrobatic save.

It was not the first time the Silkmen had made life anything but smooth for their distinguished visitors, who stand sixth in the Premier League. They had the better of the first half and could have had an early lead through Terry Dunfield's shot or Nat Brown's unmarked far-post header.

In between those early chances and that late flourish, Macclesfield conceded a goal that they could do little but stand and admire. For once, their defence was a little lazy in getting a ball clear and Leon Osman took it on his chest to half-volley into the top corner of Jon Brain's net.

It was the only moment that told Macc that they were fighting out of their class, because there was little else that Everton produced that looked to be from three-and-a-half divisions higher.

David Moyes followed the old-school policy of playing his best available team and the visitors enjoyed plenty of possession, especially in the second half, but created little. That allowed a Macclesfield defence, which has been porous in League Two, to look comfortable, particularly when the big centre-backs, Richard Walker and Paul Morgan, were dealing with high balls pumped into the area.

John Rooney, the 18-year-old brother of Wayne, came on at the death against a club where the family name still resonates. If you really wanted the magic of the FA Cup at its most potent, Howard would have fumbled Yeo's shot and Rooney would have been there to put away the rebound against the club he admits he longs to play for.

It was a day when these things did not quite fall into place for Keith Alexander's side, but they still emerged with plenty of credit.

Goal: Osman (43) 0-1.

Macclesfield (3-5-2): Brain; Walker, Hessey, Morgan; Reid, Brown, Bell (Yeo, 78), Dunfield, Jennings (Thomas, 70); Gritton, Evans (Rooney, 89). Substitutes not used: Towns (gk), Tolley, Brisley, Green.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbit, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Osman, Neville, Arteta, Pienaar (Gosling, 89); Cahill; Anichebe. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Fellaini, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz, Kissock, Wallace.

Referee: P Walton (Northants).

Man of the match: Arteta.

Attendance: 6,008