Monday 2nd January 2006
Stalybridge Celtic: Pettinger, Black, Maxfield, Kilbane, Barnard, Garvey, Smith, Sykes, Ellington, Eastwood, Prince. Subs: Oakes, Hockenhull, Atkins, Parr, Buxton.
Hyde United: Jean-Paul Ndjebayi, Lincoln Adams, Danny Caldecott (Neil Tolson), Paul Jones, Mike Flynn, Nathan Wharton, Wayne Dean (Steve Brackenridge), Gerry Harrison, Nicky Clee, Dale Johnson (Chris Lynch), Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Tony Ellis, Danny Hooper.
Hyde gained sweet revenge for their home defeat on Boxing Day with a last gasp win at Stalybridge, as their year kicked off in fine style. It was nothing less than the battling Tigers deserved after going a goal down after only eight minutes and trailing for most of the game. Man of the moment was former Celtic favourite, Matty McNeil, who having missed a number of gilt-edge chances changed from villain to hero as he grabbed two goals in six minutes, the last one coming two minutes into the four minutes added time.
It was Stalybridge who made much of the early running after Nathan Wharton had come close to giving Hyde the lead after only four minutes, and Hyde found themselves up against it as FA Trophy hero, Neil Prince, scored after just eight minutes following slack marking. It could have been worse for Hyde as Phil Eastwood was clear, but Jean Paul Ndjebayi made the first of a number of great saves following his howlers on Boxing Day.
Hyde had the ball in the net on 24 minutes through Dale Johnson, but the referee called play back. Two minutes later Ndjebayi made a stunning save from Eastwood and then Paul Jones headed against the ‘Bridge bar, when it seemed easier to score. The game continued to ebb and flow up to half time, with the ‘Bridge defence struggling against the aerial power and strength of Johnson and McNeil, whilst Paul Pettinger never looked assured in goal.
The Tigers stepped up the pace in the second half, but it was again Ndjebayi to the rescue with another stunning save to tip over a Paul Sykes header. McNeil and Johnson were still causing problems for the defence and Matty should have scored on 65 minutes after great work from Nicky Clee. He made up for it seconds after Neil Tolson had been introduced for Danny Caldecott as Steve Waywell threw caution to the wind, when a long throw evaded everybody before Matty added the final touch.
A point seemingly in the bag, Waywell withdrew the superb Johnson and introduced Chris Lynch as the extra defender for the final four minutes. With Stalybridge now on the back foot and the Tigers scenting victory, another long throw two minutes into injury time, found Matty who glanced it into the net. A great performance and nothing less than they deserved on a day they outfought and stunned their Tameside neighbours.