Saturday 20th March 2004
Northern Premier League First Division
Bishop Auckland: Riches, Rowe, Mason, Foster, Cogger, Hope, Moore, Robson, Maddison, Bayles, Alexander Subs: Scaife, Irvine, Taylor
Hyde United: Tim Mullock, John Gaynor, Carl Barrowclough (Dale Johnson), Paul Jones, Wayne Dean, John O'Kane, Nicky Hill, Phil Salt, Neil Tolson, Andy Waine, Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Ian Pendlebury, Tony Ellis.
In atrocious conditions Hyde battled to the end and came with with three points from a very muddy and windswept Spennymoor. This was always going to be a difficult game and not helped by the fact the Tigers arrived late after a journey slowly passing numerous vehicles blown over on the A1. Some supporters didn't even make it at all.
To make matters worse, Kieran Delaney was ruled out with a back problem and Bugsy was not available with his father still being seriously ill. We all hope Craig and his family are back soon. Wayne Dean and Andy Waine both started with Dale Johnson recalled to the bench.
Spennymoor was not the most hospitable place on the day with the pitch very heavy, driving rain across the ground and the tragically burnt out social club behind the goal with the contents in a nearby skip. But they had kindly agreed to host the game, when Shildon was ruled unsafe, and our thanks go to them. The reception was warm on and off the pitch nevertheless.
Just when things couldn't get any worse, Waine lunged in on Alexander after 11 minutes, a penalty was adjudged (harshly?) which Moore converted. It was Bishop's first attack. The Tigers continued to have all the play and Carl Barrowclough equalised on 26 minutes after good work by Nicky Hill and the irrespressible Neil Tolson. It was continuing to be all Hyde, but on a rare attack Moore caught the Tigers flat-footed and Bayles converted sweetly three minutes before half-time. Right on half-time, Hill was fouled on the left but battled on and his cross drifted into the net for an unlikely equaliser with Tolson still appealing for a foul!
Hyde were expected to take the initiative in the second half playing uphill, but for the first 15 minutes it didn't materialise. Barrowclough had pulled a hamstring after only three minutes to be replaced by Johnson and the Tigers struggled to get into their rythym on an increasingly heavy pitch. Bishops were playing their fourth game on a week and eventually it took its toll and the Tigers finshed strongly. Matty Mc Neil was wreaking havoc on the left, whilst Johnson was causing problems down the middle, as Hyde slowly took control.
With just nine minutes to go on the clock, Hill and Tolson linked up well and Johnson scored with a crisp finish. The travelling Tigers' fans went wild, Bishops had one last fling, four minutes of injury time to survive, but the tigers hung on for a great victory and one which may count significantly come the day of reckoning.
A slightly better journey home, but the wind still blew us all over the road, and a touch of sadness as our faithful ' JOE 647' was making its last journey before being put out to pasture in Hull. A million miles on the clock and it has taken us to Blyth and Dagenham and everywhere in -between. Farewell to a good friend!
And so back to football 63 points accumulated. That's the total of the last two seasons put together, which puts this one into prespective somewhat. Two tough away games to come in the next ten days with every point vital. We will also need the chasing pack to keep beating each other to have some breathing space.
Played at Brewery Field, Spennymoor.