HYDE UNITED 1, STAFFORD RANGERS 0
New manager Jim Gannon was impressed by the spirit displayed by his depleted Hyde United side as they defeated Stafford Rangers at home to climb into the top 10 in the Northern Premier League’s premier division.
It was almost a case of last man standing for Gannon, who had nine players ruled out, and was left with only 14 men available after Carter Waters joined the absentees after being injured in the warm-up.
But the Tigers overcame adversity to take three points thanks to Jonah Mitchell’s first goal for the club.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder, who had previously played for Ards in his native Northern Ireland and for Curzon Ashton, struck the all-important goal with 22 minutes left as he got on the end of a low cross from left-back Jason Akiotu.
After the Tigers lost 6-1 at Morpeth Town in the FA Cup in Gannon’s first match, the response has been positive with league wins against Nantwich Town and Stafford Rangers and a narrow 2-1 loss to full-time South Shields.
Gannon said: “It has been great how the likes of Mitch Candlin, Theo Bailey-Jones, Jason Akiotu and Jack Sherratt have all stepped in and stepped up to the plate.
“James Thewlis and Bradley Page have also joined us from the Under-21s, and it sends a message to them that if they work hard, they will get the chance to train and play with us.
“We have had two clean sheets in our last three league games and picked up six points which has been pleasing.
“The mentality our players have shown in the last three games has been great, whether it has been being better with the ball or in our game management.”
In a cagey opening by both sides, it took almost half an hour before either goalkeeper was called upon.
Then Hyde were unlucky not to take the lead when Bailey-Jones put Mitchell clean through only to goalkeeper Luke Pilling to make a vital save.
Hyde finished the half strongly as they whipped in a series of dangerous crosses which examined the visiting defence.
Little separated the teams in the second half until Mitchell made the breakthrough firing high past Pilling as Rangers’ defence failed to clear Akiotu’s cross.
Hyde’s game management was excellent as goalkeeper Joe Green had only one save to make.
That came with 12 minutes remaining when Rangers’ substitutes Tyrone Ofori and Luca Navarro combined.
Ofori cut in from the left before squaring a pass to Navarro who created an opening for himself but Green made a very good save low to his left.