Aldershot Town fell to third place in the National League after a hard-fought battle between the top two teams saw Macclesfield Town take all three points.
A penalty at either end still left the north-west side clinching a 2-1 victory over The Shots to bring their eight-week unbeaten run to an end.
The fight for promotion brought a full-blooded clash as Macclesfield Town took the lead in the first four minutes to preserve their league leadership. A clash between Will Evans and Nathan Blissett on the edge of the box left Evans as the last man, and the tussle was adjudged to be worthy of a red card.
The penalty was taken by Danny Whitaker, who found the bottom left corner, beyond Lewis Ward’s dive, instantly, and soon Fitzpatrick escaped down the left to create two half-chances as Ward parried Durrell’s far-post effort.
However, the hosts refused to be intimidated by the disadvantage as they kept possession with stamina and determination to match John Askey’s side.
Edging further into the game, The Shots kept their fast-flowing pace and earned an opportunity in the 43rd minute when Manny Oyeleke, an early tactical replacement for Bobby-Joe Taylor, exchanged passes with James Rowe. His attempted cross was scrambled clear, and Kinsella’s return pass skidded through the goalmouth unchecked.
Soon after the break, Oyeleke’s shot was spilled by Jalal, with Rendell inches away from pouncing on the loose ball, and the visitors doubled their lead on 48 minutes. Elliott Durrell broke into the box and, even though Ward’s slide at his feet forced him wide, he was still able to cross into the six-yard box, where Blissett was able to stab the ball in amidst a couple of defenders.
The Shots were gifted a route back into the game in the 62nd minute, as Lewis Kinsella’s near post cross was glanced on by Oyeleke and hit the arm of the challenging George Pilkington. Rendell took the penalty and drove his shot past Jalal’s fingertips into the right corner of the net.
Marsh had two chances within five minutes of The Shots reducing the arrears, as his shot was well saved by Ward and then a close-range chip was cleared off the line by Oyeleke. Ward again denied Marsh with a strong save, and Rendell stood up to repel the full force of Durrell’s drive
Whitehead shot over the bar when well placed, leaving the final five minutes of added time as an intense display of integrity to attempt to minimise the gap between first and second place. A deep cross from Adam McDonnell nearly found Nicke Kabamba but, off balance, he was unable to direct the header on target.
Whitehead fashioned another shot on target, only for Ward to make a good save, and soon the goalkeeper was joining the attack as The Shots threw a series of crosses into the Macclesfield box.
Time finally ran out, but there was still ample pride in the quality and determination of the Shots’ performance which augurs well for the two more difficult games which lay ahead this week.