EVEN in defeat to Macclesfield Town, Tuesday marked a significant moment for Witton Albion.

Striker Rob Hopley returned to the field after more than a year out injured, just in time for the new season to start.

The frontman, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury in a pre-season friendly against Kidsgrove Athletic prior to last season, played the final 20 minutes of the 2-1 defeat at Wincham Park to pass the latest phase of his recovery.

Full report below, words by Paul Harper

In the final pre-season friendly before the Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign gets underway on Saturday, Witton Albion were narrowly beaten by National League outfit Macclesfield Town 2-1 at Wincham Park.

It was an experimental XI named by boss Carl Macauley with three trialists included alongside the returning Josh Wardle who got 70 minutes under his belt after a long injury absence during pre-season.

Soon after they had struck the woodwork with an effort from the edge of the box, the visitors took the lead on 14 minutes as the striker fired home from the corner of the penalty area.

The lead was short lived as Albion were back on level terms just three minutes later. Billy Smart did well on the left and sent over an excellent cross which was expertly nodded home by Steven Tames.

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Steven Tames celebrates his goal

Macc had a good chance to retake the lead on 34 minutes when an effort was cleared off the line, before another hit the post and a third was deflected past the post.

But they did manage to find the back of the net two minutes later as good work down the right saw the ball played across goal and finished from close range.

Will Jones had a half chance just before half time but he couldn't quite connect on to a dangerous ball into the box as the sides went in at the break with the Silkmen 2-1 to the good.

Scott Bakkor had an effort deflected wide while Chris Renshaw made a good save in the early offerings of the second period before a number of substitutions from the home side broke play up, although Witton had the better of the possession.

Late chances for an equaliser fell to Bakkor, Tom Owen and then a couple of efforts from the returning Rob Hopley who made his first appearance back after a 13-month lay-off from the bench.

But it wasn't quite to be as Macclesfield held on for a 2-1 victory.

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Action from the friendly against Macclesfield Town.

All pictures by Karl Brooks Photography