Tuesday 17th February 2004
Manchester Premier Cup Semi-Final
Ashton United: Trueman, Thackery, White, Allison, Adams, Royle, Fleury, Mugadza, Denney, Johnson, Smith. Subs: Carty, Johnston, Dyson, Dormer, Garvey
Hyde United: Tim Mullock, Steven Clegg, John Gaynor (Craig Buckley), Paul Jones, Andy Waine, John O'Kane, Nicky Hill (Tony Ellis), Phil Salt, Neil Tolson, Kieran Delaney, Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Mike Meszaros.
This was Lincoln all over again. A brilliant first half performance followed by a mediocre second one and the Tigers paid dearly for missed chances and defensive howlers. Hyde dominated the first period and contrived to miss chance after chance. John O'Kane was the closest as his effort was scrambled off the line. With the Tigers well on top, a misplaced pass from Steve Clegg found the speedy Steve Smith. A couple of passes and Brighton Mugadza, on a rare appearance for Ashton, scored to put them in front on 23 minutes, completely against the run of play.
It was still all Hyde and eight minutes later Nicky Hill , who had a storming first half, scored from Phil Salt's excellent free kick. Still time for Hyde to miss more chances as the front three caused havoc for the slow central defenders. Foul after foul went unpunished with Neil Tolson coming in for some rough treatment with little protection from the referee.
Hyde began the second half in the same vein, but disaster struck on 60 minutes when the unfortunate Clegg adeptly slotted past Tim Mullock when under no pressure, following a corner. A Hyde corner in fact, as the ball was swiftly cleared downfield. The heads went down and in all honesty, Hyde didn't really look like getting back in the game. It was a killer goal.
As the game fizzled out, Ashton used every time wasting tactic they could muster, breaking up any continuity whenever they could. Plenty of injuries and then Darren Royle was booked for persistent fouling ( he must have erred more than a dozen times) and with a stronger referee would have dismissed long before. Even with more than five minutes injury time ( should have been at least ten), it was a disappointing end for the Tigers. Now they must recover quickly if the season is not going to ebb away.