Sunday, 2 January 2011

Luxury Hyde Away

A Hoppy New Year to all my readers.  2011 starts with a few cosmetic tweaks to the blog format which hopefully will give me more scope both for telling the story of each game, and for entertaining those readers not so obsessed with the lower-league game.  Thanks to the many people who have encouraged me to keep going with comments, retweets and follows.  Although I am starting a new job on Tuesday, I still plan to keep going through Step 3 and beyond with at least one hop per week. Hopefully I can cross paths with you during the year.

As you have seen up to now, I enjoy my travels with good humour and try to stay positive about people doing their best, sometimes in difficult conditions.  I enjoy my neutrality.  I don't think that refs and linos are evil personified, but I worry about why anyone would want to do the job.  I hate poor sportsmanship and low personal standards with a passion, and I hate seeing bad adult examples being set to young people. Pies, I like.  Especially with peas and gravy.

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Bower Fold, Saturday 1 January 2011
Stalybridge Celtic 1 Hyde 2
Conference North (Step 2)
Venue #361.  I am here because this was one of three remaining Step 2 grounds on my list, leaving Harrogate Town and Workington for later this season.
This match in one sentence
A smash-and-grab away win for Hyde, who took two second-half chances and then defended as if their lives depended on it.
This match summed up in the style of: Les Dawson
Bower Fold sits like the Koh-i-Noor diamond in a stripper’s cleavage, and the heavy aroma of Chanel Reject Number 55 Pies-in-Gravy pervades the air as 700 locals enquire repeatedly about the lino’s parentage.  Hyde’s defence was as tight as the mother-in-law’s biscuit tin and Stalybridge had the finishing prowess of a piece of blunt sandpaper.
So what?
These sides are 13th and 18th respectively in the table.  Stalybridge looked too good to get caught up in the relegation battle but this loss to local rivals will hurt.  Hyde really do need the points.
The drama unfolds
Stalybridge dominated possession for the first half and created half-chance after half-chance without really ever testing the visiting keeper.  Hyde showed a glimpse of what was to come with two good chances – one brought a good save from home keeper Jan Budtz and the other rattled the woodwork.  Nevertheless, the home fans would have been content with the overall display and looking forward to a win as the teams went in at 0-0 for half-time.

The turning point was a goal for Hyde early in the second half.  Tom Manship reacted first as the ball came back off the post and smacked the ball into the top right-hand corner.  0-1. As Stalybridge pressed forward, they were vulnerable to the classic away break and Shaun Whalley got a second goal with 15 minutes left.  0-2.

The video clips give a flavour of the second half.  Wave after wave of Stalybridge attacks, with only one goal to show as Phil Marsh scored after 81 minutes while I was putting new batteries in the camera, dammit.  1-2. They also had one good shout for a penalty turned down by a linesman much closer to the incident than me.

Hyde captain Steve Halford ensured that the back line remained disciplined during the final siege.  At times his shouts were heard clearly as the home fans gradually realised this was not their day and local bragging rights were headed to Hyde.
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Stalybridge
Stand naked on the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and sing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” to passing narrowboats.  The former goes through Stalybridge and the latter was written there.  Arrest normally takes place after about 30 minutes.
A snippet from the programme

What programme? Only a 50p teamsheet today, which is disappointing.
What I learned today
I am still not sure whether Stalybridge’s fans’ apparent resentment of Hyde’s relationship with Manchester City (see my post from their loss to Redditch United earlier this season) is due to democratic principles (as per Manchester United and FC United of Manchester) or just jealousy.  This performance by Hyde was immeasurably better than their capitulation to Redditch.
What Next?
A double-hop to Hampshire on Monday to Andover and Alresford Town.

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