Saturday 13th December 2003
Northern Premier League First Division
Gateshead: Burke, Harrison, Morgan, Cattaanach, Curtis, Bell, Rasmussen, Blandford, Thompson, Chilton, Colvin. Subs: Buzzeo, MacDonald and Watson.
Hyde United: Tim Mullock, Steven Clegg, Ian Pendlebury, Paul Jones, Kieran Delaney, John O'Kane, Nicky Hill, Phil Salt, John Gaynor (Jamie Milligan), Anthony Wright, Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Tony Ellis, Andy Waine. Sent off: Paul Jones, John O'Kane.
For the most part of this game, Hyde looked likely to get at least a draw they fully deserved, but with just eleven minutes left, it started to go horribly wrong. Paul Jones who had been booked in the first half, did an unnecessary lunge on James Curtis in the area, injured himself in the process, and after treatment was shown a second yellow. Paul Thompson stepped up to score from the spot, although Tim Mullock was unlucky not to save.
Minutes later John O'Kane, who had already been booked, showed his frustration as Gateshead kept the ball in the corner for the umpteenth time and received a second yellow to reduce the Tigers to nine men for the last five minutes. The fans may not have liked it, but referee George Simpson had no choice. It could have been worse as Gateshead's tactics increasingly aggravated the Tigers and Jamie Milligan was lucky to escape with a yellow as tempers boiled over, and Mr Simpson showed common sense.
This was a disappointing end to a game where the Tigers had fought back from going a goal down on 52 minutes when the irrepressible Thompson headed home. Anthony Wright equalised on 71 minutes to seemingly set up a grandstand finish until the moment of madness from Jones brought the world crashing down. It was hard on the Tigers. This was always going to be a tough game, but they matched a physical Gateshead side all the way in difficult conditions and had a sniff of victory until those fateful six minutes. Nevertheless even then, Hyde, with nine men, could have snatched an equaliser as they pushed forward. Gateshead for their part were happy to keep the ball in the corners and dramatically go to ground if any tackles came in. They had done a job and taken six points off the Tigers. Not pretty, but pretty effective.
The only good news for the Tigers was that none of the Top Six had won, apart from Gateshead, and therefore their championship challenge was still alive and well after an afternoon they would want to forget.