FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay - Wrexham 5 Macc Town 2
A rip-snorting cup tie it may have been but that will be little consolation for John Askey as his Macclesfield side made an early exit from the FA Cup.
Askey's men not only missed out on much-needed prize money and a stint in the spotlight that a cup run can bring, they also lost the services of Paul Lewis through injury and Alex Grant, dismissed in first-half injury-time.
Lewis' shift lasted just 15 seconds. Challenging for a high ball, he landed awkwardly after clashing with Wrexham defender Manny Smith. X-rays revealed he'd suffered a broken clavicle, meaning a couple of months on the sidelines for him – a huge blow, given his exploits this term.
The midfielder's departure aside, Macc made a great start to the replay and took a seventh-minute lead through Grant, who made sure he leapt highest to bury a header from Waide Fairhurst's corner past Dragons keeper Andy Coughlin.
Grant had rightly been man-of-the-match in the first tie, the Stoke loanee's first start for the Silkmen, but his and Macc's evening would turn sour at the end of an action-packed half.
With Macc conceding far too many free kicks in dangerous spots Rhys Taylor's goal came under plenty of unfriendly fire from the Dragons, who almost hit back immediately, Smith's header from Jay Harris' set-piece cross and a low drive from Elliott Durrell both rattling the post.
At the other end, a fine first-time volley from Macc captain Paul Turnbull also thudded against the upright after Arthur Gnahoua's blocked shot had looped high into the night sky.
If that seven-minute flurry wasn't enough for the crowd, the 10 minutes that closed the half certainly were – although it was the home supporters that enjoyed it far more than the near-200 who'd crossed the border.
A lapse in defending a corner saw Wrexham draw level, Andy Bishop forcing in at point-blank after a low delivery across the face of goal wasn't dealt with adequately.
In first-half injury-time the wheels all but came off for Macc.
When makeshift centre-back Andy Halls misjudged Mark Carrington's long ball, veteran Bishop was on hand to nod in beyond the stranded Rhys Taylor.
And when Grant got in a tangle with Wes York as he bore down on goal, referee Jason Whiteley infuriated the visitors. Everyone in blue was adamant that the winger had been yards offside but the official pointed to the spot, giving himself no option but to dismiss the Macc youngster.
Taylor did keep his side's hopes alive by denying Bishop a third goal from the spot-kick, hurling himself left to palm it away at full stretch.
That hope all but dissipated within a minute of the restart though, as Johnny Hunt's low ball across goal crept over the line, courtesy of a deflection off Taylor's underside.
Turnbull – whose header rescued a point for Macc on their last trip to the Racecourse - restored some optimism for the 10-strong battlers with a stunning 25-yard strike.
Chris Holroyd charged down the right flank but his pass for Fairhurst was cut out by Smith. When that fell kindly for Turnbull there was only one plan in his mind, and he executed it perfectly, curling his shot in off the post from 25 yards.
And minutes later Fairhurst almost drew the Silkmen level but fired just over Coughlin's bar.
Joe Clarke scored a scrappy fourth on the hour mark to seal a home tie against Woking in the first round. Former Macc let-back Neil Ashton was denied by a fantastic save from Taylor but Clarke was first to the ball to make it 4-2.
The Silkmen refused to throw in the towel though, and Malachi Lavelle-Moore – who'd replaced an exhausted Fairhurst – had the ball in Coughlin's net but looked up to see an offside flag raised. It would have been a storming final 13 minutes had that stood but with Macc's players wilting on one of the division's bigger pitches Taylor was the busier keeper. His late antics included narrowing the angle perfectly against Clarke, who snatched at his chance and fired over, and an unbelievable full-length stop to once again deny Bishop his hat-trick.
However, substitute Nick Rushton slid in Wrexham's fifth goal seconds from time, to compound Taylor's misery and complete a scoreline that was undoubtedly harsh on a Macc side who'd given their all.