Tuesday 4th December 2012
Macclesfield Town: Cronin, Jackson, Brown, Charnock, Braham-Barrett, Murtagh, Wedgbury, Kissock (Morgan-Smith), Barnes-Homer, Winn (Mackreth), Holroyd. Unused subs: Mills, Fairhurst
Hyde FC: Christopher Dilo, Kelvin Lomax, Adam Griffin, Ben Dennis, Luke Ashworth, Alex Brown (Tunji Moses), Liam Tomsett, Chris Sedgwick, Scott Spencer, Phil Jevons (Matthew Blinkhorn), Ryan Crowther (Stefan Cox). Subs not used: Josh Brizell, Matthew Harris.
It was an all too familiar story as the Tigers threw away a 2-goal lead to lose a game in which earlier they had been in complete control.
The Moss Rose ground staff had worked hard to remove gallons of excess water from the pitch to ensure that the game could go ahead, but the surface was still waterlogged come kick-off and a muddy puddle claimed an assist as Alex Brown put Hyde a goal up after just 4 minutes. Macclesfield captain Nat Brown chested down a cross for Town ‘keeper Lance Cronin to clear, only for the ball to stick in the water – leaving the in-form Tigers midfielder to take a touch to set himself up in front of an open goal before giving Hyde an early 1-0 lead.
Nat Brown’s nightmare start continued when another mix-up from the captain, returning to the team after 2 months out, led to a long ball bouncing off his back and dropping perfectly for Phil Jevons. Not short of confidence following his 4-goal haul against Woking at the weekend, Jevons took the ball on but saw his rising drive saved by Cronin, who also saved well at the near post from Tigers captain Adam Griffin’s vicious shot later in the half.
Hyde were full of energy and repelled the Silkmen’s first-half attacks with ease with some expert defending and the help of the unpredictable surface. Even losing Ryan Crowther, replaced by Stefan Cox, to a knock didn’t disrupt the Tigers’ play, and headers from Nathan Barnes-Homer and Brown were the only half-chances created by the home side, who were showing exactly how and why they’d lost their previous 4 games.
Spencer’s pace and relentless hard work caused Macclesfield problems all night, and his biggest contribution came when he chased down Jackson’s poor defensive header and raced towards goal, only to be recklessly tripped just inside the area by the hapless Brown. The referee pointed to the spot and Jevons confidently converted, sending his penalty into the bottom right-hand corner of Cronin’s goal.
The 4 games in which Hyde have thrown away 2-goal leads so far this season were at the back of every Tigers fan’s mind, but their recent form and excellent first-half display, which saw the Silkmen booed off by their supporters, gave everybody cause for optimism.
But Hyde tired visibly as the second half went on, and Town took full advantage of their professional status, aided by a Saturday off following the postponement of the weekend’s FA Cup game at Barrow, and some controversial decisions from the officials.
The home side were much-improved in the second half and did what they’d failed to do in the first 45 minutes by keeping the ball and getting behind the Tigers defence. Macclesfield had already had a couple of chances to pull a goal back by the time they did so in the 56th minute when Craig Braham-Barrett crossed for Matthew Barnes-Homer to head in at the far post.
The Hyde supporters’ fear of throwing away another 2-goal lead was almost realised within seconds of the restart, with some having their heads in the hands before noticing that Kissock’s brilliantly executed 15-yard strike had hit the inside of the post and spun well clear, rather than into the back of the net.
But until the later stages of the game, it was the Tigers who carved out some of the half’s best chances. Adam Griffin’s curling inswinging free-kick should’ve been met by the head of any one of 3 Hyde players in the 6-yard box while, later on, Matty Blinkhorn – a replacement for Jevons – was twice set up by clever Spencer backheels, only to be thwarted by goalkeeper and crossbar.
Despite Hyde’s chances, Macc saw more and more of the ball as the game went on before they levelled with a controversial freak goal. After comfortably saving Brown’s header from Barnes-Homer’s cross, Tigers ‘keeper Dilo lost his footing and took a step behind the goalline to balance himself. Despite appearing to hold the ball well in front of his body, the linesman decided that the ball had been carried over the line and signalled a goal which the home supporters behind the net had only only appealed for in hope.
Hyde were furious, and only the crossbar and a heroic block from Luke Ashworth kept the scoreline level until the 90th minute when Chris Holroyd took advantage of the Tigers’ tiring defence to cut inside and drive a low shot past Dilo.
It was to be the game’s final chance of note, but as galling as the Macc players’ and supporters’ exuberant celebrations were to watch, they proved that beating the Tigers is now something that can be considered a genuine achievement, rather than just a relief.