Hyde FC 0 County 1 ( Conference North ) 28 March 2015

I am not a great lover of Pantomime, although I do see that others have a greater regard for the genre. Surely ...these camp classics are only relevant around Xmas time, being thoroughly out of place any other time of year!
Well Ewen Fields today, was the scene of a ridiculous out of season panto, with referee Jonathon Hunt in the lead role that seemed to be a jarringly irksome mix of Baron Hardup and Widow Twanky! There was nothing at all exceptional about the game. County had pretty much wrapped things up though. Hyde had played the ball about a bit at times, but without ever really putting Hurst under real scrutiny game long, thus a single goal from Kristian Dennis, on his return from injury, was enough to see the blues home. Or so we thought, with only 3 minutes left to play, and County dealing confidently with everything that Hyde attempted to throw at them. But we had not factored Mr Hunt into our considerations, and he promptly stopped play......spent 4 minutes talking to everyone barring myself( during which time the players stood around getting wetter ,instead of finishing the game whilst we still could) before taking the teams off the park to a fulsome chorus of booing from the terraces! To be sure the weather was bad, but this is Britain after all, and it does tend to rain here a bit don’t you know? And... in the era of Climate Change it will get no better I think, and if referee`s behave in this way here on out, we will be lucky to complete a whole season of Conference North fixtures. We could of course move the whole competition to Qatar, where I believe that the weather is wonderful, but I wouldn`t fancy forking out for the Flyer fares for that season.I jest of course, whilst inwardly still seathing at the utter awfulness of the refereeing on show today!
`Match Abandoned` then......and at this point, neither County or Hyde know where we go from here or what the ultimate result will be- ludicrous.
Back at 3 o`clock, none of this nonsense was on the radar at all, in fact the sun actually shone down on us for a while, as the majority of a decent County following gathered behind the goal to urge their team on. There was good news, for County fans, in the shape of Dennis and Spencer who were both starting after missing games through injury. Jacobs and Churchman were back too in a side that had an altogether sturdier appearance about it! A further injury to Connor Hancock, meant a switch to centre back for Matthew Todd, but he has played really well wherever he`s been slotted in, so I foresaw no real problems with these latest personnel changes at the back.
It was however disconcerting to hear `Arthur Brownlow’ getting an airing well before kick- off, but the start of the game soon scattered these thoughts to the four corners of what at this point was a sun drenched Ewen Fields.
Duxbury in action.

The opening minutes saw both teams trying a bit....Hyde via Erike Sousa, who twice had a go at getting something from nothing for his team. His luck was out however.....firstly because Duxbury, aided by O`Halloran, undid him with some neat work near the corner flag, and then...when he did get past Duxbury, his intended cross proved no problem to County`s defence.

Erike Sousa.
Jacobs rather wasted a tasty ball fed him by Dennis, before Sousa again got a site of goal, this time through the middle, but Duxbury was up to the challenge and saw him off before he could trouble Hurst.
Once...twice....three times....Wilkinson tried and failed to pick out blue shirts with passes at the sharp end, but with referee Hunt free with the free kicks for County`s opponents, the blues seemed to be constantly on the back foot fending these kicks off. They did this pretty well, Duxbury doing another job on Sousa, then combining nicely with Churchman to deny the same forward. The best work though came from O`Halloran whose last ditcher to stop Ryan Masterson almost brought the house down,   but it was irritating none the less to see the referee give a stream of cheep free kicks to the home side!

Masterson stopped by excellent O`Halloran tackle.
I told myself that County would have to get on with it and ignore the referee, and Wilkinson seemed to be OK with that notional philosophy, it was just that the accuracy of his passing was somewhat lacking ,as twice he tried to thread balls into the box for Dennis- finding a red shirt on both occasions. Still.....at the other end of the park, County were doing OK....the defence was in good order, and when it wasn`t they could seemingly rely on erratic finishing from the home forwards, epitomised by a hurriedly snatched effort from Ben Holmes on 15 minutes, that sent the ball over the bar after Duxbury had gifted possession to the Hyde man.

O`Halloran & Moses boss affairs.
The 18th minute ushered in some hope as good work by Moses and Churchman fashioned a break for Duxbury. He looked well set as he started to head for goal, but then he hesitated......didn`t shoot....drifted inside instead...and lost possession! Why didn`t he shoot?
Well.....for Hyde.....Andy Pearson was not going to leave any such questions dangling, and he would have been disappointed to see his snap shot, on 20 minutes, skim the bar on its way out of play. This seemed to buoy the Tameside outfit a tad, and within a minute a shot from Pearson thudded into Hurst`s chest before going out for a corner, which James Burke made contact with but headed wide.
It was slightly worrying ,no more than that, to see now relegated Hyde showing some of the worry free form that frequently characterises relegated team`s performances in `dead games` when relegation is already decided. County were defending well against all this, so there was no real issue, but the odd fluke.....the odd quirky refereeing decision.......
I was briefly distracted by a flare hurled by someone within the County following. My views are well known on the throwing of flares- it does no one any good....does positive harm to some amongst us, and can bring down sanctions on the Club....but still they are tossed in our midst!

I forced myself to forget this nonsense and concentrate on the game, just in time to see Moses pull out a terrific tackle to stop Connor Hughes, only for Mr Hunt to award Hyde a free kick. Despite the use of elbows by Luke Giverin ( unchecked by the referee), the free kick was cleared without undue problems, but I was in rant mode none the less, only slightly assuaged by the sight of Spencer executing a delicious nutmeg on Burke on the break for County, as.... when the ball reached Jacobs his final ball flew straight out of play.
The slight nagging worry lingered as Duxbury did well to block a run by Hughes, only for the ball to run clear to Sousa, who looked to have his second decent chance of the game. He lifted it over the bar, and the chance was gone, only for another to surface almost immediately when Duxbury handled the ball just outside the box. The free kick hit the target, but did not elude Hurst who grabbed it with alacrity.

That free kick......

....but Hurst has it !
Thus far things had not entirely gone County`s way, but after playing within themselves ,gradually with half an hour gone, the blues started seeing chances appear where previously they had not....

On 29 minutes Dennis slipped a neat ball on to Spencer who was in on goal. The County forward only had keeper Wilczynski to beat, but sent his shot against the outside of the post.......
The 30th minute saw a Wilkinson shot drift wide, after more good work from Dennis.
This period of County pressure was punctuated by a break by Masterson , and Hurst`s save with his leg to nullify this, was arguably his best save of the game, but Spencer again went close , on 37 minutes, his shot being pushed around the post at the last gasp by the keeper.
Initially, after that last save, the pressure on Hyde looked to be easing due to a really poor County corner, but good work from Todd kept County`s forward momentum going , allowing Wilkinson to latch onto the ball and thread a nicely weighted pass into the box where Dennis met it and despatched it past Wilczynski into the net.
County were on fire briefly after the goal and Wilczynski did really well to keep a further effort from Dennis out!
Hughes continued to be Hyde`s `go to’ man as far as getting forward was concerned , but so far County were handling him well , restricting him to efforts from beyond the box, and there was a happy buzz about the away end as the teams left the field at the break.       

Some of the County following.
The re-start saw Hughes continue to work at getting an opening, but his best efforts were constantly met with implacable resistance, this time in the shape of Lees who nullified the threat in the box. 

Mark Lees

With the referee lining up free kick after free kick for Hyde the pressure started to build on the blues, but thankfully the home side`s finish continued not to match their approach play and it stayed 1-0.

Fletcher blocked.
A foul on Wilkinson ushered in a rare blue free kick, only for Duxbury to lift his shot over the bar when well set, and it took a mighty tackle from Perry Ng to stop Spencer who had scuttled clear onto a neat through ball.

Foul on Wilkinson....

....but Duxbury shoots o/t from the kick.
From Ng ,the pendulum swung as he sent the ball up field ,and Hurst had work to do keeping a strike by Josh Brizell out, and a header from Ng not long after. Hyde were certainly trying, and Wilkinson did just enough to ensure that Giverin did not overly test Hurst as he barged into the box.
We were past the hour mark now, and it was marked with some urgently good work by Hurst, who was in position to tip an effort from Masterson over the bar. Corners came and went after this for Hyde with the same end product- nothing!
By the same token, County were quietly working at adding a second, and O`Halloran saw his header drift narrowly wide at one point, after Moses and Wilkinson had set the chance up.

O`Halloran goes for corner.....
With 20 minutes left, County rang the changes ,bringing Lofthouse and Russell on for Duxbury and Wilkinson, and County quickly won a corner via Russell`s efforts, and then another which again saw O’Halloran unlucky, this time denied by the alertness of Wilcyzynski.

Ooo its a corner !
If that last action was a possible game changer, another followed, almost straight away, as Hughes surged towards the box, where he was upended by Todd. Todd had been booked earlier for something or other, but the referee did not hesitate to produce a second yellow thus Toddy walked, and his team were down to 10, and seemingly up against it!
Well....Hyde did have a free kick , but it took them eons to actually take it ,and when they did they found Hurst in terrific form , his diving save keeping it at 1-0 to the accompaniment of an almighty roar from 600 or so County supporters.

The free kick following Toddy`s dismissal.
County defended deep after this ,but still took time out to sneak forward and again O`Halloran was in the van and only narrowly kept out , as a corner headed his way after Russell had laid the foundations with an energetic run.

Russell wins the corner

....and O`Halloran goes close again !
County kept the forward pushes going, but with the weather now deteriorating fast, and Ryan now on for Spencer, it was disappointing to see the keeper take two goes at it, but eventually grab the ball after Jacobs had terrorised the Hyde back line with a tricky run.


More rain.

Then it happened.......the weather had deteriorated some way and the rain had lashed down almost ceaselessly for minutes on end, and the odd flash of lightning had added a Wagnerian touch to proceedings, but with just 3 minutes left, no one thought that the game would be curtailed at that point( we would have played on on Cringle Fields in the Rusholme and District Sunday League 4th Division), but it was. Mr Hunt stopped play and then wasted 4 or 5 minutes gabbing endlessly to players of both sides...stopping this to wave the odd card here ...another there...

Referee bottles it.......
All this time, the game could have continued ...the 3 minutes been played out, and maybe some added time and bobs your uncle, instead however after more argument, the referee had his way taking the teams off the field to a thunderous cacophony of booing!

He`s out again......
Twenty minutes delay saw the referee return briefly to the field of play for a pitch inspection straight out of Marty Feldman or Monty Python, as Mr Hunt ( restricting his inspection to a small area nearest the tunnel ) seemed at first to be somewhat dismayed when his attempt at rolling the ball actually succeeded. His follow up was brilliantly executed- his expression had Feldman/Cleese off to a tee as he located the most obvious puddle and dropped the ball into it with unsurprising results. 

....and back in after locating himself a puddle.

He was immediately off for the warmth of the dressing rooms and hang the game or the public who had paid to watch it. As I said earlier.....Match Abandoned, and we await the ministrations of the suits on whether or not a matinee performance of this panto needs to be arranged one evening later in what remains of this season.
Let`s hope the result stands, but do not be tempted to hold your breath at any stage!
Hmm ....being a County fan is never dull is it! 
It would be remiss of me not to remark on our magnificent captain Mark Lees, who took time out to come back out into the rain, in his kit still, to talk to the County contingent after the referees little part piece. Top....top man!
Its Barrow next, and there`s still some seats left on the Flyer so why not give Lou a ring 07896 536757 to book.

County line up:

Hurst, Jacobs, Duxbury(Lofthouse 69) , Todd, Lees, O`Halloran, Moses, Churchman, Dennis, Spencer( Ryan 84), Wilkinson( Russell 69).

Subs not used:

Ormson, Hampson.

Hyde FC line up;

Wilczynski, Riley( Pritchard 61), Burke, Brizell, Ng, Giverin, Sousa( Hibbs 45), Pearson, Masterson, Holmes, Hughes. 

Subs not used:

Boyle, Thurston, Gregory

Attendance 1581

Ian Brown


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