Saturday 21st September 2002
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Harrogate Town: Connor, Thompson, Kerr, Mc Naughton, Sturdy, Sykes, Farthing, Bonsall, Jackson, Marcelle, Hunter. Subs: Merris, Donaldson, Turley.
Hyde United: Peter Crookes, Paul McGuire, Ged Smith, Dominic Crookes, Paul Ashwell, Dave Swanick, Julian Dowe (Steve Nolan), Lee Evans, Steve Foster, Anthony Hargreaves (Richard Eyre), David Nolan. Subs not used: Mike Lomax.
After the euphoria of last Saturday, this has been a dismal week for the Tigers. A poor performance at Gateshead, followed by a not much better one at Harrogate.
For much of the first half there was not much between the sides. Hyde took the lead on 33 minutes through a Steve Foster penalty after Dominic Crookes had been pushed. But as in so many games before, could not hold onto the lead and right on half time, Clint Marcelle slotted home after he was given too much space in the area.
Hyde started the second half strongly and Anthony Hargreaves, who was suffering from a damaged hand for much of the game, twice came close. Then probably came the turning point. Harrogate 'keeper Ashley Connor deliberately handled outside the area. The referee, who seemed to be operating to his own set of rules, gave a yellow card. My FA recommendations say a red card is the correct punishment irrespective of a goal scoring opportunity or not. True to form, Harrogate went down the other end and took the lead through Colin Hunter. Hyde fought back and when Lee Evans was clipped by the fortunate Connor when he burst through and nothing was given, it summed up the Tiger's day.
Dave Merris scored a scramer with 3 minutes left to put the icing on Harrogate's day and leave the Hyde players targets of abuse from the travelling fans. Some of this was levelled at debutant, Julian Dowe, which was unfair when he was playing his first match of the season. He was there because Lee Madin had walked out on the club 24 hours earlier. Not the welcome you would expect for a new player.
There were some good individual performances. The defence despite playing well, contrived to concede three goals and had another couple of close shaves. Steve Foster and David Nolan worked tirelessly in midfield whilst Evans, Dowe and the hampered Hargreaves stuck to their task up front.
Some consistency is urgently needed and to learn form the mistakes of the previous game. Five straight defeats away from home, 15 goals conceded says it all. Dave Nolan has a mammoth task to bring some confidence back to his young team before it is too late.