Macclesfield 1 City 1 (Macclesfield win 4-2 on penalties)

PETER Jackson once described a City midweek win at Macclesfield as one of his top five results as a manager.

Last night’s agonising penalty defeat is an early indicator for Michael Collins about how cruel this coaching game can be.

Collins had gone into the game by warning his players that defeat against League Two opposition would be “unacceptable”.

Chairman Edin Rahic had made it clear that a potentially lucrative Carabao Cup run was certainly on his agenda.

But instead City – and his rookie coach – were left reflecting on a first-round exit for the fourth year running.

It will be no consolation that Macclesfield were there for the taking at times and City were the stronger side over the 90 minutes. But they didn’t hurt the underdogs enough.

Saved penalties from Anthony O’Connor and Joe Riley in the shoot-out ultimately proved their downfall – and a loss that will crank up a bit of pressure even at this very early stage of the campaign.

Collins had made five changes and handed debuts to Ben Wilson in goal and midfielder Luca Colville on the day he signed a one-year deal with the club – and how he made the most of that with a cracker of a goal.

Once again there was no Matt Kilgallon, after being left out of the first two league games. But Ryan McGowan featured for the first time since February after his knee injury.

Bizarrely his four appearances for City have been under four different bosses – but all will share the same high opinion of him. The Aussie’s performance suggested he had never been away.

Veteran Danny Whitaker’s 25-yarder warmed Wilson’s hands early on but City were soon knocking it around well.

Sherwin Seedorf, another to be promoted from the bench, and Sean Scannell both showed a willingness to drive at the home defence.

There was a better balance about the Bantams in their 4-2-3-1 set-up but it took 21 minutes for their first real sniff, George Miller’s header comfortably claimed by Rhys Taylor. It was one more effort on target than they had mustered against Barnsley.

That brought a bit more purpose about the visitors and the busy Adam Chicksen cut in on his right for a low drive that Taylor did well to beat away.

City created the best chance on the half hour after O’Connor roared out from the back. Hope Akpan took the ball on and played in Miller, whose shot was smothered when he really should have lifted it over the keeper.

But the Bantams had a major scare just before the break as Macclesfield found a second wind. Harry Smith’s shot squirted through the goal-mouth towards Callum Maycock and Wilson threw himself to make a vital close-range save before the defence could scramble the ball behind.

That flurry of excitement finally generated some noise – up to that point the atmosphere had the flat feel of a pre-season friendly. The contest was hotting up and while City had carried the greater threat, they needed a cutting edge.

McGowan was surprisingly caught in possession as play resumed, a rare blemish from the rock-solid defender, but Wilson got everything behind Malachi Napa’s well-hit strike.

Colville responded with a similar effort of his own as the game continued to open up under the murky Moss Rose floodlights.

Jack Payne took a corner through the gloom – and Hope Akpan met it with a glancing near-post header that flashed across goal through a scrum of bodies. But the contest exploded into life on the hour with two goals inside a minute.

Macclesfield struck the opener as centre half Fiacre Kelleher buried a header from Michael Rose’s free-kick.

City refused to be rocked by the blow, though, and responded instantly with a belting drive by Colville that flew past Taylor from 20 yards.

Those who had seen his screamer at Avenue last month would have known the power in his boots and the midfielder did not disappoint with another rocket.

A touch of cramp ended his night in a double change 20 minutes from time, Collins also throwing on the physical presence of Kai Bruenker in Miller’s place.

City were pressing for a second – and should have had it when Scannell squared low into the path of Seedorf by the penalty spot. Taylor saved alertly once again but the Dutchman really ought to have buried it.

But with City going for it, they nearly paid for failing to clear their lines from a Napa cross as Maycock’s low drive clipped the outside of the left post.

Taylor’s fine night continued with another huge block to deny McGowan a comeback goal from Payne’s free-kick.

The Macc keeper wasn’t finished as the game went straight to penalties – and he did not disappoint.

MACCLESFIELD: Taylor 9, Welch-Hayes 7, Kelleher 7, Grimes 6, Fitzpatrick 7, Napa 6 (Marsh 90min), Whitaker 8, Maycock 7, Rose 6, S Wilson 6 (Arthur 71min), Smith 6. Subs (not used): Lowe, Blissett, Evans, Pearson, Simpson.

CITY: B Wilson 6, Riley 6, McGowan 8, O’Connor 6, Chicksen 7, Colville 7 (Wright 71min), Akpan 7, Seedorf 7, Payne 6, Scannell 7, Miller 7 (Bruenker 71min). Subs (not used): Robinson, Gibson, Wood, Knight-Percival, O’Donnell.