Monday 26th December 2005
Hyde United: Jean-Paul Ndjebayi, Lincoln Adams, Paul Armstrong, Paul Jones, Mike Flynn, Nathan Wharton, Wayne Dean (Neil Tolson), Gerry Harrison, Nicky Clee, Dale Johnson, Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Chris Lynch, Danny Caldecott, Danny Hooper, Tony Ellis.
Stalybridge Celtic: Pettinger, Keeling, Bernard, Kilbane, Haran, Price, Smith, Sykes, Ellington, Eastwood, Prince. Subs: Black, Garvey, Oakes, Hockenhull, Buxton.
Hyde gave Stalybridge two neatly wrapped presents just before and just after half-time and never really recovered in a cracker of a local derby at Ewen Fields.
There was no festive spirit in some of the early challenges and referee Mr Collin had to keep a tight control as the game simmered nicely. He finished with a pad full of bookings, but it was never a dirty game, and just what you would expect from a Tameside derby.
It was Stalybridge who made much of the early running, but Hyde could have had a penalty when the superb Matty McNeil was held in the area. All went wrong for Hyde four minutes before the break, when Mike Flynn lost possession and Jean Paul Ndjebayi spilled the subsequent shot to allow Lee Ellington to nip in and score. It was hard on Hyde after a pretty even half.
Things got worse ten minutes after the interval when Chris Price's shot from a tight angle took a deflection and the unlucky Ndjebayi again spilled the ball and once again Ellington was on hand to put the ball in the back of the net. Hyde came back strongly and Dale Johnson reduced the arrears after being put through by the irrepressible McNeil. Seconds later Ndjebayi atoned for his earlier lapses with a superb save, whilst at the other end Paul Pettinger made a stunning save after a mazy run from McNeil. McNeil was again in the picture two minutes later when he crossed and Johnson's header cannoned back off the post across the six-yard line. How much Hyde would have loved an Ellington to poke the ball home.
With time running out and the result in doubt, Mr Collin awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Hyde box for handball. It looked harsh at the time and a subsequent video replay suggested it was actually a Stalybridge hand. Nevertheless the ball was squared to Mark Bernard, who hammered the ball home. Game, set and match and an excellent advertisement for non-league football.