HYDE UNITED 2, TRAFFORD 1
In terms of a honeymoon, it could not have gone any better for new Hyde United manager Nick Spooner.
In his first match in charge, Spooner guided the Tigers to their first cup final in eight years as they defeated Trafford.
Spooner, with assistant manager Martyn Coyne and new first-team coach Gavin McCann at his side, triumphed with goals from Chinedu Uche and substitute loanee Lewis Earl to reach the final of the Manchester Premier Cup.
“I am delighted. It has been a tough season and the lads deserved it,” said Spooner who prefers to be called Nick these days as opposed to Nicky during his playing days.
There was a different style of play as Spooner is encouraging his team to play out from the back.
Spooner explained: “We asked the boys to get more on the ball and try to keep possession.
“We hadn’t had a training session to work on this so there are going to be mistakes as it is a new way of playing, but I was pleased how we worked off the ball.”
Spooner added there will be an emphasis on tightening things at the back.
He said: “We will score goals and in the division’s top eight for that.
“We are in the bottom four for conceding goals so that is what we are going to have to work at.”
Spooner also resisted the temptation to make changes after the team was unbeaten in two games when Coyne was in temporary charge.
“It was important to keep the run going for confidence. We are undefeated in three and that sets us up for the last 10 league games,” he continued.
Hyde made the breakthrough in the 15th minute when Uche weaved in from the left and cut back a shot low to the right of goalkeeper Jonny McIlwaine for his first goal of the season.
They ought to have built a larger lead by the break as late in the half Jonah Mitchell had a goal ruled out for offside and then burst clear and rounded McIlwaine only for Sean Higgins to make a miraculous goalline clearance.
And when Trafford equalised early in the second half, they looked like being costly misses.
Midfielder Matty Barlow, a former Oldham Athletic academy player, hit a fabulous drive from 30 plus yards. Goalkeeper Joe Green looked to have made a brilliant save to turn it over the bar only for the ball to drop just below the bar.
Hyde set about having to win the game for a second time as Jordan Fagbola headed narrowly wide and McIlwaine pulled off a fine double save to deny Tom Pratt and Harry Benns.
Earl, who had replaced the injured Ed Ikpakwu nine minutes earlier, put Hyde ahead midway through the second period when he ghosted from deep to head home Liam Tongue’s corner.
Green pulled off a smart save to turn a drive from Matty Morgan around the post for a corner as Trafford looked for an equaliser.
But late on Hyde came close to a third goal when McIlwaine pulled off a decent stop to keep out Tongue’s goalbound free kick.
It was an encouraging start, but Spooner will be aware Trafford are one division lower in the football pyramid and far more difficult opponents lie ahead in the remaining games.