HYDE UNITED 2, MATLOCK TOWN 3
HYDE United, reduced to 10 men for half the match, proved they can compete with the best as they gave a creditable account of themselves at home to Northern Premier League leaders Matlock Town.
It was a decent display by the Tigers who had midfielder Ed Elewa-Ikpakwu dismissed in first-half stoppage time for receiving a second booking.
Hyde were a match when it was 11 versus 11 and, even when reduced numerically, still asked questions of their opponents.
In what was sometimes a feisty encounter, Tigers’ manager Jim Gannon admitted his side’s indiscipline is not helping the cause.
He explained: “We had a sending off at Warrington where we were in a position to pick up a point and the sending off today was unnecessary.
“At this point it is worth saying when I was at Stockport County, we won the fair play award a couple of times.”
Gannon admitted it was “emotional” in the dressing room at half time, and that influenced his decision to take off captain Tom Pratt who had also been booked as he did not want to be reduced in numbers further.
He said: “Pratty, who is an important player for us, was on a yellow card and needed to be careful.
“He was still emotional at the end of the match when he went on to the pitch to have a go at the referee so perhaps it was a good decision.”
Gannon added his side came close to competing against a good side.
He continued: “I am disappointed we put ourselves in a position in which we made hard work of it.
“There is anger in some parts, but I am also proud of others. We learned harsh and valuable lessons.”
Hyde got off to the perfect start taking the lead after only 56 seconds.
Matlock goalkeeper Joe Young could only parry a fiercely driven low cross from the right and Krisel Prifti had an easy tap in for his second goal for the club.
That stirred The Gladiators into battle as Tigers’ goalkeeper Joe Green had to be alert to turn over a header from former Mossley winger Jes Uchegbulam before the visitors equalised in the 11th minute.
Hyde failed to clear a corner and striker Liam Hughes, who made 161 first-team appearances for Cambridge United, found the net with a spectacular scissor kick which Green just failed to keep out.
Hughes, a 6ft 3in man mountain who was hard to handle, went close again with a header before Prifti rattled the crossbar with a free kick for Hyde.
Elewa-Ikpakwu picked up his first booking after scything down Ross Hannah on the edge of the box as he burst forward with Matlock players demanding a red card.
The match turned at the end of the opening period of two moments.
Hyde thought they had made it 2-1 when Dyche found the net with an angled drive, a fabulous strike, from Prifti’s low cross, but the assistant referee raised a flag for offside long after the celebrations had begun.
Then in stoppage time, Elewa-Ikpakwu collected a second booking, again he can have no complaint as it was as clear as daylight.
Gannon made two changes at the break as Pratt and Jonah Mitchell, who had picked up a knock, were replaced by Harry Benns and Fenton Green.
Hyde’s 10 men were untroubled until Matlock scored twice in three minutes after an hour to effectively kill off the game.
Hughes scored his second of the game with a far-post header and then, when Hyde failed to clear a corner, Ryan Qualter scrambled home their third.
If Matlock thought it was all over, they were mistaken as Hyde reduced the deficit to 3-2 with 16 minutes left when Brad Roscoe got a touch onto Liam Tongue’s free kick which went in off the upright.
It was the defender’s sixth goal of the season and his fourth in the last seven games as he is also a potent attacking threat.
Hyde pressed for an equaliser as Matlock spent much of the latter stages on the back foot, though they were never seriously threatened as their experience showed through their game management.