Saturday 4th February 2006
Hyde United: Jean-Paul Ndjebayi, David German, Chris Lynch (Danny Caldecott), Paul Jones, Mike Flynn, Paul Armstrong, Steve Brackenridge, Gerry Harrison, Nicky Clee, Dale Johnson (Neil Tolson), Matty McNeil. Subs not used: Nicky Hill, Danny Hooper, Tony Ellis.
Nuneaton Borough: Acton, Oddy, Love, Fitzpatrick, Moore, Brown, Collins, Noon, Quailey, Murphy, Taylor. Subs: Frew, Wilkin, Foster, Reeves, Holmes.
For the second week running, Hyde turned on the style and put a massive dent in Nuneaton's title challenge. The weather may have been gloomy, but the football certainly wasn't as the Tigers started like they meant business. Within three minutes Dale Johnson's shot rebounded off a post and although Matty McNeil was on hand to hit the ball home, an eagle eyed assistant ruled offside. A close call indeed. Undeterred Hyde pushed forward and after another couple of near misses, Johnson back heeled into the path of Gerry Harrison, who calmly side-footed home. McNeil was inches wide with a screamer as the sluggish Nuneaton back four found McNeil and Johnson too hot to handle.
Hyde had been forced into three changes due to suspensions, but it hadn't showed as the replacements had all done their bit in a scintillating first half performance. The squad had been stretched to its limit, with Tony Ellis filling one of the subs positions.
The second half, however, was a different story as Nuneaton stepped up the pace and made their intentions clear after just seven minutes when Matty Collins headed against the top of the bar. They then had the ball in the net, but Collins was ruled to have fouled.
Instead of Hyde's forwards taking centre stage, it was now the turn of the defence to show what they were made of. And how well they did, superbly marshalled by Mike Flynn. Paul Jones and Chris Lynch both suffered facial injuries defending stubbornly and despite the visitors throwing everything at them in the closing stages, the defence stood firm. Lynch was forced off with a nasty gash resulting in 6 minutes of injury time.
Still time for Darren Acton, to raise his hands against Neil Tolson, who had replaced Johnson, for the final few minutes. Dale had left to a standing ovation. Neil was left on the floor. Just a yellow and the 'keeper can consider himself very lucky. Although to be fair there had hardly been a foul of note in the game and had been excellently refereed.
By the final whistle, Hyde had showed how far they have come in the last couple of months and Nuneaton, too, had shown that they are accomplished and serious title contenders, but on the day not good enough to beat the rejuvenated Tigers.