Tuesday 1st January 2008
Stalybridge Celtic: Gamble, Woolliscroft, Smart, Payne, Garner, Sykes, Ellington, Barwick, Hall, Barlow, Meechan. Subs: Fairclough, Roca, Keeling, Oakes, Pearson.
Hyde United: Craig Dootson, Chris Brass, Chris Lynch, David Morley, Peter Band, Mark Innes, Dale Johnson (Chris Simm), Steve Pickford, Matthew Tipton, Gareth Seddon, Nathan Wharton (Nicky Clee). Subs not used: Craig Robinson, Gerry Harrison, Lee Cartwright.
They say goals change games and this was certainly true at Bower Fold today. For the first hour or so, the Tigers were comfortably a goal up thanks to Gareth Seddonís strike on twenty five minutes after a mistake by Paul Sykes Then it all changed as Celtic grabbed two goals in four minutes and they never looked back.
Hyde can point to some indifferent and inconsistent refereeing decisions from Mr Nolan, including a disputed penalty, but the bottom line is that once they went behind, they never looked like getting back into the game. Effort cannot be faulted, but defending, organisation and application can.
Celtic equalised when Peter Band was adjudged to have brought down Chris Hall in the box. It was a close call but then Bandy was caught on the wrong side of his man and was forced into a last ditch tackle. Matty Barlow made no mistake from the spot. Four minutes later more mayhem in the defence and a free kick conceded on the edge of the box. Andy Smart strode up and hammered it straight through the wall and directly into the net. It was reminiscent of Seddonís goal at Barrow last year.
Chris Simm and Nicky Clee were introduced but it was to no avail as Stalybridge never loosened their grip although Seddon did go close with a cross shot which Paddy Gamble scrambled away. Stalybridge should have had a more clean-cut penalty on eighty minutes, but the referee, not for the first time, was too far away, but it didnít matter as substitute Barry Keeling came off the bench and strode through the Hyde defence for number three in the dying minutes.
A brief flare up in the closing stages saw Steve Pickford and Terry Barwick booked but once again there was no malice in the game, although the referee collected five bookings. Perhaps most unlucky was man of the match Lee Ellington who was booked for his one and only foul in the game in the last five minutes.
It was a bit hard on the Tigers, but the facts are that they have now suffered seven defeats in the League with just about half the season gone and that isnít good enough for the talent on show and it is now clear changes will have to be made, especially in the defence which seems to be permanently under pressure surviving on last ditch clearances rather than defending well in the first place.