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Hyde United 2 Leigh RMI 0

By Matt Lawton
February 16 2007

Although they produced a spirited performance, RMI's recent run of poor form continued with defeat in the partial darkness of Ewen Fields on Friday night. Despite torrential rain on Tameside, the fine reputation of the Ewen Fields pitch was maintained as it held out against the elements, but the Conference North, should the referee decide to include it in his report, may take action against Hyde as two of the groundís floodlight pylons failed to work, leaving a sizeable portion of the field in relative darkness for the majority of the encounter.

While there was a degree of familiarity in the Hyde line-up with ex-RMI stars Dave German, Craig Dootson and Gerry Harrison all lining up for the home side, their old club fielded debutant Kevin Rapley, who joined the club from Conference North rivals Droylsden earlier in the week.

Although the home side dominated possession in the early stages of the game, they failed to create any clear-cut opportunities against an RMI defence that seemed almost desperate to clear the ball at every chance virtually right from the outset.

Hydeís best chance came when a goalmouth scramble saw the ball almost bobble in to the net, only for Owen Roberts to hook the ball away from danger, before the former Clitheroe left-footer delivered a corner that was headed over the bar by defender Steve Brockley in RMIís first serious attempt on goal.

RMI looked set to break the deadlock shortly before the break when some neat link-up play between Rapley and Steve Settle put Lee Unsworth in the clear, only for the former Bury full back to tweak a hamstring on his route to goal, leaving the ball to roll through to former RMI goalkeeper Dootson, with Unsworth having to be replaced by Liam Coyne, such was the extent of his injury, with Coyne making his first appearance for RMI since rejoining the club from FC United of Manchester earlier this month.

With Hyde pushing for a play-off place, they were urged by manager Steve Waywell, who happens to be undoubtedly RMIís most successful previous boss, to push forward, and that attacking attitude was rewarded within ten minutes of the restart when Kevin Rapley lost possession in midfield and the ball found itís way to Nicky Clee, who made no mistake in lashing the ball in to the net in clinical fashion past Leigh goalkeeper John Lamb.

With his side falling behind despite their defensive effort, RMI manager Stuart Humphreys looked to increase his attacking options shortly afterwards with Chris Simm joining the fray in place of ex-Preston striker Mark Jackson, and it was Simm who had the chance to put RMI on level terms soon after coming on to the field. Steve Settle worked himself in to a good position on the right hand side, and his cross was headed back across goal by Rapley and in to the path of Simm, whoís goalbound strike was blocked by a desperate lunge from a Hyde defender and the chance was gone.

The game was seemingly ended as a contest when Hyde were able to cut through the RMI defence with ease and a cross from the right channel was bundled in to the net from close range by the prolific Gareth Seddon, giving his side a two goal advantage as the match headed towards the final quarter.

With all hope seemingly lost and the pressure taken from their shoulders somewhat, RMI started to play their way back in to the game, with a Neil Briscoe header plucked out of the air by Dootson, before the Hyde goalkeeper again denied his former team mates when he made a smart save to block a Simm shot that was heading straight for the bottom corner.

The defeat leaves RMI looking anxiously over their shoulder with a big week of crunch fixtures ahead of them, starting when Hinckley visit Hilton Park on Tuesday night before Worcester come to Leigh next Saturday afternoon as Leigh look to stay clear of the relegation zone.

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