Saturday 12th February
Blue Square Conference North
Hyde FC 1 Gloucester City 3
Tea hut purchase: Tea £1
Weather: Early drizzle, becoming dry and sunny
Parking: Club car park, easy getaway
Hyde is one of those M60/M67 satellite towns near Manchester, its in the bit past Ashton under Lyne as you head down towards Stockport. Its got a weather worn Morrisons Supermarket a Step 6 outside market and plenty of traditional North Western boozers. The Match Shed made easy progress through the town, hardly a soul to see, they were all on pints watching pub tv, it was a 12.45pm kick off for United v City. I reversed the Match Shed into a nice space in the club car park and switched the radio on for the last half hour of the local drama taking place on the other side of Manchester. The most overpaid, most out of form, most over-hyped forward in fancy-pants premiership football scored a wonder goal with the best overhead scissors kick ever, according to the cretin wetting himself on the radio that is. I'd judge it myself over a Chicken Kung Po watching Match of the Day. After the 2-1 win to United I made my way through the turnstiles, it had started to rain, it fitted the environment especially as Manchester City had just lost their last realistic opportunity to go for the title, all around me were the trademark City colours of light and dark blue, every wall, every stand, every roof, even the match programme... City were everywhere!They play their reserve games at Hydes ground and there has obviously been a done-deal on them putting money into the place to raise the standards of some of the facilities. Don't get me wrong the Ewen Fields stadium is a very good little ground and looks a picture but the relentless sprawl of City colours, City crests and Etihad advertising does rob the place of any discernible Hyde FC identity.Without going into a history lesson, Hyde FC used to be Hyde United before the City input and previous pictures of Ewen Fields verify it was a lot more red than blue. Enough of this, I understand clubs need to make ends meet in hard times and the City influence will have doubtless eased the financial pressures for the Hyde football club, so good luck to them, I'll stop being snobby about what paint is on the wall! However, it was quite ironic that they were playing some music from Oasis as I made my first reconnaissance of the Tea Hut set up, I half expected to see Liam Gallagher emptying another bag of frozen chips into the chip fryer.Hyde have not one but two decent looking tea huts and to be honest there were quite a few big looking blokes in the darkened corners of the stands greedily scoffing the stock. The first tea hut you come across is just inside the turnstiles at the rear of the main stand. This seemed to be doing a steady trade and burgers were high up the list of advertised delicacies.For those of you who may have read my visit report from Goole last week you will understand why burgers are currently off my menu, despite trauma therapy with Doctor Sing it will probably be another month before I can face a tea hut style cheeseburger again. The second Hyde tea hut is beside the pitch down near one of the corner flags, a friendly lady was knocking out all kinds of stuff for the visiting Gloucester City supporters, as I'd had steak pie, curry and chips for my dinner before setting off I decided to pace myself and just have a tea, a bit steep at a quid a plastic cup but it was reasonable in size and I left the bag in.Todays Conference North encounter was one of those six pointers which will become more prominent from this month onwards. Both Hyde and Gloucester are not that far from the trap door positions and this was a game neither side could afford to lose. Hyde have had a few decent results against Nuneaton and Redditch recently but Gloucester still have quite a few games in hand, a win today would doubtless build momentum. Things got going with a fast paced approach, both midfields eagerly sprayed the ball about and the first quarter produced some quality moves and nice one-two's going forward. We'd already had a couple of quick goals, the first one from Gloucesters impressive Darren Edwards after 6 minutes followed by an immediate Hyde reply from Kevin Holsgrove. I'd say Holsgrove was the stand out player in that first half.When you add on each side missing a penalty there was certainly enough drama to keep the supporters interested. Half time arrived with the scores level at 1-1. The second half witnessed a shift in impetus, Gloucester increased their momentum and started to dominate the midfield, Hyde resorted to hoofing it long rather than sticking with the more controlled approach play they had displayed earlier in the game, gone were the intricate passing pieces from Holsgrove and Lee Rick, it was foolishly replaced by the panic induced 'punt from the back'. Perhaps the turning point was a superbly struck long range net-buster from the home side, unfortunately for Hyde the referee had blown for a Gloucester foul a split second before the goal, it was a crushing blow and definitely had a bearing on the proceedings. Gloucester put their good luck to good means, Darren Edwards ended up with a hat trick, his last goal, in injury time was a superb piece of individual wizardry which saw him bamboozle two retreating defenders out on the touchline before he clinically cut inside and put the ball past the Hyde FC keeper. The small band of loyal Gloucester supporters went mad with delight.It finished up a 3-1 convincing win for the visitors and they were well worth the 3 points. If they can continue to play decent football from midfield and the likes of Darren Edwards and Mike Symons can keep dominating defences, those games in hand might just see them move into the more comfortable half of the table. As for Hyde, they now face two tough away games at Worcester and Eastwood Town, sides already battling hard for points themselves, one has to compliment Hyde for some of the fine football they played in the first half but the panic, kick and hope stuff we all saw in that last 45 wont win many games. Lets hope Neil Tolson can address the issue and get them playing the right way, they have the quality, they just need the game plan. Come full time it was a nice sharp exit for the Match Shed, the problem with Hyde is that if you dont know the place its such a bloody pain to find the M67 westbound again, anyway, eventually I stumbled across it. Needless to say all the pubs looked packed with half cut lads in replica-colours spilling on the pavements outside the doors, the United v City dinner-time session obviously had a few more hours to go yet? It should be rocking in the kebab houses come 11.30.