Non-league Macclesfield Town’s quest to reach the third round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in 6 years will have to go to another game, as the Silkmen earned a 0-0 draw with Oxford United to force a replay.
The hosts dominated proceedings for the majority of the match, but lacked the composure in front of goal that was needed to score past their League One opponents.
It was the hosts that started the match the brighter of the two sides, with Town winger Jack Mackreth creating the first big chance in the 6th minute, as he delivered a ball in for an unmarked Danny Rowe, who steered his header across the face of goal but no-one was there to convert.
Mackreth was causing the Oxford defence some real problems on the right hand side, and he fashioned another chance just two minutes later. Midfielder Paul Lewis was the recipient this time, but he could only volley Mackreth’s cross over the crossbar.
After a brief lull in proceedings, Macclesfield sprang into life again in the 24th minute, following an incident which left the home supporters shouting for a penalty.
Chris Holroyd appeared to be brought down in the area by Dunkley, who had been booked ten minutes earlier, when he was one-on-one with Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood.
However, replays suggested that Dunkley had won the ball fairly, and had indeed produced a brilliant goal-saving tackle.
The hosts continued to dominate, but struggled to find the target, with Lewis, Mackreth and Andy Halls all firing shots over the crossbar.
The Macclesfield dominance lasted right up until the half-time whistle, leaving much to ponder for Oxford manager Michael Appleton at the interval.
Macclesfield picked up where they left off at the start of the second-half, and they won a free-kick in a dangerous position on the right flank. Rowe stepped up to take the free-kick, but his low delivery was a poor one, and Roberts cleared for the visitors.
There was another call for a Macclesfield penalty as Mackreth surged into the area after getting the better of Johnson, before going down under the Oxford man’s challenge. Referee Seb Stockbridge waved away the home side’s protests, and replays again appeared to support the referee’s decision.
For all of Macclesfield’s pressure, it was Oxford who came closest to taking the lead. Chris Maguire’s 68th minute free-kick was met by Dunkley, whose header clipped the outside of the post.
Oxford were growing in confidence, and nearly took the lead when substitute Josh Ruffels’ cutback found Roberts in space, but the teenager’s shot was saved by Ross.
The Silkmen had created plenty of opportunities during the match, but their best chance of the game came in the 76th minute. Rowe made a superb run to the by-line, before pulling the ball back to Lewis to shoot, but Eastwood dived low to his right to make an excellent save.
Macclesfield came even closer four minutes later, when Mackreth smashed a shot against the upright, with Eastwood beaten all ends up.
It proved to be the closest that the hosts would come to finding a winner, meaning the two teams will have to do it all again in 10 days’ time.