Saturday 6th September 2003
Northern Premier League First Division
Matlock Town: Tye, Varley, Taylor,White, James, Lukic, Tilly, Brown, Barraclough, Holland, Williams. Subs: Clarke, Charles, Taylor
Hyde United: Mark Westhead, Steven Clegg, Ian Pendlebury, Paul Jones, Anthony Kielthy (Craig Buckley), John O'Kane, Anthony Callaghan (Glyn Barker), Phil Salt, Neil Tolson, Anthony Wright (Tony Ellis), Matty McNeil
The Tigers had a lot to prove in this game. A scintillating performance last Saturday followed by something pretty dire on Tuesday. The Manager made it clear before the game that nothing less than a victory would do, with reputations being on the line. There was everything to play for. Matlock were top of the league and hadn't conceded a goal at home.
For the first half hour Steve Waywell's words seem to have got lost in the translation. We conceded a sloppy goal on 3 minutes when John O'Kane and Paul Jones allowed Danny Holland to slip the ball home. And things went from bad to worse as first Mr. Lawrence awarded Matlock a penalty on 24 minutes for hand ball by O'Kane. He saw it, but nobody else in the ground did. Holland scored. And then the referee gave a goal kick when Matty McNeil was brought down. A clear penalty. If not a corner. A case of chickening out perhaps?
Anthony Kielthy then suffered a neck injury and things were looking pretty bleak for the Tigers...but not for long. A reshuffle to 4-4-2 with Craig Buckley on as substitute. Three minutes later a shot by him across goal and a rather heavy footed attempt by Kevin Tye allowed the ball to creep in at the far post. A lifeline and also an inkling the Matlock 'keeper was vulnerable. Seconds later Anthony Wright rattled the woodwork and Hyde started to believe in themselves. A series of corners, a couple of near misses and the Tigers were roaring again. Right on half-time Wright headed in a corner and the Tigers were back where they had started.
The second half was all Hyde. By now Matty McNeil was winning everything up front and Wright and Neil Tolson were looking dangerous every time they got the ball. Within three minutes of the restart Tolson slid the ball home after great work on the right by McNeil. Chances came and went until Wright bagged his second on 81 minutes after good play by Tolson. He then completed his hat-trick on 87 minutes with a superb lob. It could and should have been more.
There were some excellent individual performances but man of the match for me was McNeil. He may not have got on the scoresheet, but he figured in everything going forward. Wright looked sharp on his first full appearance and we will benefit from his finishing. All of a sudden, things are looking brighter but you can't give teams a two goal start every time. Consistency is now needed with a stern test on Wednesday with Prescot who have had a good start.