THEY say that lightning does not strike twice, but the players of Macclesfield Town have every right to play victim to the phrase after Swindon Town netted in injury-time for a second time this season to steal valuable League Two points at the death from the Silkmen.

For 47 minutes of the second half at Moss Rose on Saturday, it appeared both teams were heading for a relatively unproductive point – given the increasingly desperate circumstances faced by the clubs with regards to their relegation avoiding and play-off chasing aspirations.

But a match-winning run down the right, a measured header down and a thunderous strike off the inside of the left post handed Swindon three points – and a second stoppage-time win against Macclesfield this season.

Jubilation broke out on the well-supported away terrace following Jak McCourt’s dramatic injury-time strike.

So desperate are the fans for success, it proved too much for one supporter, who was sent flying – maybe not literally – over the advertising boards and onto the pitch in shear relief of Swindon’s first win in almost a month.

But the talking points travelling back home down the usual M6-M5 route would have no doubt been dominated by questioning if the team – as it is – can pitch for a play-off spot.

After all, Swindon had just beaten relegation-threatened Macclesfield at the death for the second time this season.

It wasn’t a tidy performance – and it wasn’t a tidy pitch.

Possession was gifted away far too cheaply on several occasions, and Town’s sloppiness in defence in the early moments of the game were ultimately not punished by the hosts, who should’ve netted at least twice in the first half.

Debuts were handed to new recruits Canice Carroll and Ben House – the latter proving himself to be a bright prospect following his mature header down to set up the winning goal.

Now for the real test – leaders Lincoln City at home next weekend. A win and suddenly the play-off hunt seems perhaps more realistic than at any moment this season, a loss and hopes among even the most positive fans might start to dwindle away.

Richie Wellens made four changes to the side that lost to Exeter City on New Year’s Day at home.

Marc Richards made his first start since the trip to Notts County in October, while Scott Twine and Ellis Iandolo returned to the starting XI, with Carroll handed his debut.

Swindon were first to threaten when Jarden Hodgkiss gifted the ball to Kaiyne Woolery inside the home side’s half before the ball was crossed to find Keshi Anderson.

Anderson twisted before taking his shot, which was blocked, before Kyle Knoyle latched onto the rebound – which struck Kieran O’Hara’s crossbar.

Sol Campbell’s men first threatened with eight minutes on the board as Scott Wilson emerged with the ball and ran free into Swindon’s penalty area.

Defender Dion Conroy quickly forced Wilson off the ball, though, denying the hosts a chance to shoot.

Macclesfield quickly made up for their errors with 14 minutes played, though, as Tyrone Marsh scored the game’s first goal after a well-weighted free-kick from inside Swindon’s half was flicked over Lawrence Vigouroux into the far corner.

The Silkmen should have doubled their lead seconds after kick-off as Vigouroux’s failed clearance was picked up by Wilson.

With an open goal in front of him, Wilson guided his right-footed strike wide of Swindon’s right post.

Wellens’ side continued to wobble – underlined when new recruit Carroll trod on the ball in the centre circle before committing a foul which Macclesfield won a corner from after an advantage was played.

Carroll picked up a yellow card, but the corner almost came as a blessing for Swindon – who countered well before Woolery’s powerful strike from outside the area was well tipped behind by O’Hara.

Iandolo and Richards linked up well with 30 minutes played, with the latter just failing to get power behind Iandolo’s accurate cross from the left.

Travelling supporters only had seven minutes more to wait however for the equalising goal.

Michael Rose was judged to have handled the ball from a fast-paced cross from the right. McCourt neatly whipped in the resulting free-kick, and Richards comfortably headed past a stranded O’Hara to level the game.

Debutant Carroll had his first strike at goal with four minutes remaining in the second half.

Twine’s effort was blocked before the Brentford loan signing watched his 25-yard effort whistle wide of the top right corner.

Home defender Fiacre Kelleher was then lucky not to see red with one-minute remaining in the first half after his poorly-timed challenge hacked Knoyle to the floor close to the corner flag.

The late challenge prompted Knoyle to be Wellens’ first change with only minutes left to play in the first half as James Dunne replaced the trusty right-back.

Prior to the change, the Silkmen were unfortunate not to score a second goal as Wilson’s close-range effort was poked the wrong side of Vigouroux’s near post.

Excluding the hosts’ early chance, the second half’s first 15 minutes was dominated by midfield play.

McCourt and Carroll were particularly guilty of gifting the ball away cheaply, while Iandolo’s shot from a tight angle on the hour mark epitomised play at the time as both teams struggled to break beyond the opposition’s defence.

Conroy then pulled the trigger from 30 yards out with 25 minutes of play remaining, but unsurprisingly, his effort was guided well wide of O’Hara’s right post.

Wellens reacted to the lull by introducing House to the field, he replaced Twine, while Campbell was forced into making his first change as a late challenge on Ryan Lloyd by McCourt ended his game prematurely – Miles Welch-Hayes replaced him.

The lull in play was to last for a further 10 minutes before Woolery tried his luck from 20 yards when allowed time and space on the edge of the penalty area.

His shot was fumbled over the crossbar by O’Hara, who minutes later watched Richards head the follow-up corner fractionally over the crossbar.

Jermaine McGlashan was then introduced with only five minutes remaining, while Peter Vincenti replaced Koby Arthur for the hosts.

The change proved to be a winning one for Swindon, as McCourt struck in the game’s concluding minutes to secure a first win for Swindon since the 2-1 triumph over Newport County in early December.