Saturday 3rd April 2004
Northern Premier League First Division
Hyde United: Tim Mullock, Steven Clegg, Ian Pendlebury (Mike Meszaros), Paul Jones, Wayne Dean, John Gaynor, Nicky Hill, Phil Salt, Dale Johnson, Carl Barrowclough (Tony Ellis), Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Neil Tolson.
Belper Town: Ingham, Hogg, Thornhill, Crookes, Kennedy, Ashley, Simpson, Gummer, Lambert, Stubley, Lyons. Subs: Roulston, Hurrell, Howarth
The starry skies of West Cumbria had been replaced by rain lashing down which probably put a dent in the crowd. It was a really disappointing 266. The stay-away fans are certainly staying away much longer than anticipated. It can't be blamed on form - top of the table - with just one league defeat in the last 12 games and just two home league games left.
The team basically picked itself. It was the eleven fit ones. Tony Ellis was on the bench but struggling, Tolse was there in name only (and to direct operations from the dug-out), and Mike Meszaros was a late call up. Could things get any worse? Well they certainly did. Within fifteen minutes both Ellis and Meszaros were on. Carl Barrowclough had a recurrence of his hamstring injury in his first game back and Ian Pendlebury was stretchered off with a bad ankle injury. It was debatable as to whether it was an accident. The ref thought so, the players did not. News late on Saturday from Tameside suggested there was no break. Some relief.
And so to the game. Dale Johnson and Matty Mc Neil ran the Belper defence ragged all afternoon. Both were superb with former favourite Dominic Crookes not able to keep tabs on the lightning pair. Johnson had a great effort scrambled away on 12 minutes by former Stalybridge 'keeper Gary Ingram pretty damn close to the line. The Tigers pressure increased (with a completely different formation from the one which started) and it was no surprise when Mc Neil headed home on 37 minutes.
In the second half, Belper had more possession, but the Tigers still looked likely to score everytime they attacked. Johnson scored a great opportunist goal on 65 minutes after Ingram hesitated, not for the first time. The persevering Meszaros completed the rout on 85 minutes with a well taken goal. It could have been more, but in the circumstances the whole team had done exceptionally well. Sean Gummer pulled one back at the end, but a win was assured. Can the injury ravaged Tigers get through the last four games is the question on everybody's lips? Most of the injuries appear to be long -term. Let's hope we can patch a couple up.