Table-toppers Rhyl and District saw their blistering run of seven consecutive wins come to a shuddering halt as their severely under-strength side crashed to an unfamiliar 5-2 defeat at the hands of mid-table hosts Macclesfield.
Just a week after claiming pole position in Division 2 of the North West League all on their own, depleted Rhyl were made to pay for a significantly sub-standard showing that wrecked their high octane surge.
Forced to face their Cheshire opponents without such key players as Danny Bell, Jeff Hodgkinson, Tom Basham and Dougie Lonsdale, Rhyl’s reshuffled pack never got out of first gear.
Restricting Macclesfield to a single goal at the break, spluttering Rhyl’s problems intensified as goal-minder Dennis Bates was left to pick the ball out of the net twice more as the customary quest for points this time looked increasingly improbable.
The award of a short corner brought a welcome respite as crackshot Dave Kelly reduced the gap to 3-1 with a fierce strike into the top corner.
Rhyl’s spirits rose still higher when versatile Adam Judge rounded off a three-man move involving Ian Bennett and Kelly which left him with a difficult chance from 12 yards.
This heartening uplift proved short-lived when the celebrating Judge was suddenly re-cast from hero to villain when he promptly gifted an own goal to restore Macclesfield’s margin.
Macclesfield still had time to complete their nap hand and so depose Rhyl from their perch, dropping them to second place in the table for the first time for more than a month.
Rhyl will be doubly keen to wrap up the first half of the season with a critical win over replacement front-runners Lancaster & Morecambe in this Saturday’s match-of-the-day clash of the top two.
Several of their missing players are expected to return for this vital away six-pointer, although a lingering injury problem still makes Danny Bell a doubtful starter.
Rhyl Seconds managed to pick up a point by holding Neston and South Wirral to a 2-2 draw in a tight tussle at St Asaph.
Prolific marksman Gavin Davies again got on the score-sheet with his brother Lee making it a family double with the other Rhyl goal.