Wednesday 26th December 2007
Hyde United: Craig Dootson, Chris Brass, Chris Lynch (Chris Simm), David Morley, Peter Band, Mark Innes, Dale Stephens (Dale Johnson), Steve Pickford, Matthew Tipton, Gareth Seddon, Nicky Clee. Subs not used: Lee Cartwright, Nathan Wharton, Gerry Harrison.
Stalybridge Celtic: Gamble, Woolliscroft, Smart, Payne, Keeling, Sykes, Dean, Barwick, Hall, Barlow, Meechan. Subs: Garner, Roca, Ellington, Oakes, Pearson.
This was very much ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ for the Tigers after they had stormed to the top of the league in the previous home game but after Stalybridge had scored two early goals, Hyde never looked likely to get back into the game. The visitors were impressive throughout keeping close tabs on the Hyde forwards, whilst breaking with electrifying pace which frequently exposed the Tiger’s rearguard.
‘Bridge came out of the blocks much quicker and Craig Dootson had to be at his best after just ten minutes to thwart Andy Smart. Gareth Seddon went close at the other end before Alex Meechan scored with a deft flick on sixteen minutes after the ball had travelled a long way across the Hyde penalty area.
The game was as good as over eight minutes later when Chris Hall outstripped the Tigers defence to put Celtic two up. There was a hint of offside but nobody could argue about his pace as he ran clear and finished superbly.
Meechan who had caused all sorts of problems in the first half hour limped off but the Tigers could not take advantage although Seddon was just inches over with a free kick right on half-time.
After the break Hyde needed an early goal, but despite forcing a succession of corners, Paddy Gamble’s goal was never seriously threatened. Dale Johnson and Chris Simm were introduced to add some fire power, but it never materialised as the Stalybridge defence stood firm.
In this fixture last season there were eleven bookings and three sending offs, but this year it was a much more muted affair with only Chris Lynch booked for a heavy tackle on Matty Barlow. To be fair, referee Mr Conway had a decent game, but it was the visitor’s two goals which had taken the real sting out of the game. It is interesting to note that Hyde had just four players left from last year in their starting line up, whilst Stalybridge only had Paul Sykes and Barrie Keeling.
Hyde went three at the back as they tried to claw their way back into the game, but it was Celtic who grabbed the all important third goal when Smart rifled home on 78 minutes past an unsighted Dootson. Hall should have scored again a couple of minutes later but he contrived to hit the bar from three yards out. Barlow did find the net a minute later but was just offside.
More corners for Hyde in the closing stages, and there was some consolation as Steve Payne, who had been outstanding, slid the ball into his own goal in the closing stages. It was too little too late for the Tigers and not for the first time this season they had been found wanting in a crucial game