Muffins and mules: Hyde (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Pat Bell

6 November 2012

Hyde 3 Grimsby Town 2

The away end at Hyde takes you back a bit. To Roots Hall in the late 1980s, maybe - a shallow terrace set well back from the pitch. Judgements of action at the far end - three of the goals and most of the near misses - were impressionistic. And not just for the Town fans. When a Hyde shot bounced off the hoardings and rolled behind the goal in the first half, the Hyde goalkeeper raised his arms in celebration, before pulling them sheepishly down as the ref awarded a goal kick.

Had he been on his line, he might have got away with it. The terrace seemed to be below pitch level and the hoardings were high, so that action close to the near byline was often hidden from view. This is not sour grapes - it just explains why a detailed match report is impossible.

Hyde's opener, for instance, appeared to occur when a lobbed cross slithered off McKeown's chest and trickled into the goal. I dare say a Hyde player, possibly Brown, touched it at some point, but you couldn't swear to it. Their second was scored on the break, a low diagonal ball from our left across the penalty area with neither McKeown nor any Town defender cutting it out before a Hyde player (Crowther, apparently) slid the ball back across goal into the bottom corner of our net.

Town were playing like this was a chess game, but with none of the cool, continental deliberation this implies. When Hyde had the ball, when no-one had the ball, even when Town had the ball, everyone stood quietly and waited for Hyde to make their move. Hyde tickled a few passes to the edge of the Town area. Not only did no Town player intervene - they allowed the striker with the ball at his feet to stop it and take a step or two back by way of a run-up before he hooked the ball wide.

By contrast, when Town put a couple of passes together towards the end of the first half, and Marshall found himself in a position to shoot from the edge of the area, a Hyde defender threw himself at the ball, the shot ricocheting to safety. There, in microcosm, was the reason Town lost. For two brief intervals in the first half, the Mariners had a bit of momentum. The Hyde defence creaked and panicked, but they did not actually stop defending.

Their cause was also helped by a distinct lack of pace and presence down the centre of the pitch. Down both sides, full-backs and wingers intermittently linked effectively and crosses - some good, some less so - abounded. No Town shirt was ever on hand for the rebound. Parries and half clearances ended not with the renewal of Town pressure but a Hyde breakaway. Even our first goal, which ended the first half, had to be redeemed after lack of pace appeared to have wasted a one on one. Hannah scarcely reached the ball before the goalkeeper. Forced wide, he had the presence of mind to turn and the skill to lash the ball from into the roof of the net almost from off the pitch.

It put us in better heart for the second half, and for 15 minutes we looked unstoppable. Niven had kicked the hoardings in disgust after being replaced by Thanoj midway through the first half. But now, for the first time, the Town midfield were consistently winning the ball, maintaining pressure and picking out Colbeck in particular. Early in the second half, a cross bobbled off two or three heads before a player later identified as Hannah stooped to head it in. Straight after, a break ended with Cook shooting across both goalkeeper and far post, and two more goalmouth scrambles. There could only be one winner.

Then it stopped. Town went back to watching Hyde attack. Brown had yards of space to shovel a ball against Pond. Appeals for handball rose then fell in the time it took the ball to defect into the net. Town, players and support, deflated. The ref might have sent off a couple of Hyde players for scythes at Marshall and seemed to give them the benefit of whatever doubt was going. But for the last 20 minutes there was no doubt. There really could only be one winner and it was the team with less skill but greater consistency.