Barnet 1 Macclesfield Town 0

Last updated : 13 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Still high on FA Cup fever, Barnet staged a lively display of attacking football as Adam Birchall handed Paul Ince's visitors their first League Two defeat since mid-November.

Skipper Ian Hendon wrote in his programme notes of the need to put the Cup to bed after the excitement of the midweek win over Colchester that saw Barnet advance to the fourth round for the first time in their history, sentiments echoed by manager Paul Fairclough.

Their cautionary notes did not fall on deaf ears. Fairclough kept faith with the side he described on Tuesday night as "history boys, and was rewarded with a performance full of commitment and verve that was capped by Adam Birchall's 40th-minute winner.

Having previously identified this fixture as more important than last weeks FA Cup clash with Chelsea, Macclesfield manager Paul Ince will have been less than amused to see his side tumble to a second successive defeat. Being hit for six by the Premiership champions is one thing, suffering a first League Two defeat in two months quite another.

Ince, now eligible to play for Macclesfield following the opening of the January transfer window, must have wished that he had named himself on the bench as he watched his team confined to their own half for prolonged periods.

Barnet started with intent, dominating possession while making little impression on a well organised defence marshalled expertly by skipper David Morley. Under sustained pressure, the Silkmen held their shape well, occasionally threatening on the counter while absorbing the pressure exerted by Barnet's lively front pairing of Birchall and Puncheon.

Five minutes before the interval however, Barnet's assault finally told, Birchall latching on to Nick Bailey's incisive through ball to slot home his fourth goal of the season.

Seconds later, Cogan should have extended Barnet's lead but narrowly failed to get his head on Richard Graham's sweeping left-wing cross with the goal at his mercy.

Ince, who had made five changes to the side that started against Chelsea, made a double substitution just before the hour, throwing on Jordan Hadfield and John Miles, but the second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Puncheon in particular unlucky not to extend Barnet's lead.