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Hyde United 3 Leigh RMI 3

Ex-RMI boss Waywell

By Matt Lawton
November 12 2005

A superb comeback from RMI saw them claim a precious point from fellow strugglers Hyde after being two goals down with barely a quarter of an enthralling contest remaining. With RMI coming up against their ex-boss Steve Waywell, not to mention his struggling side that contained several former Hilton Park stars, there was plenty to play for at a chilly Ewen Fields.

After both sides had their midweek Conference North games postponed due to the bad weather, there were fears that it could also affect today's encounter, but the recent rain certainly wasn't particularly evident, and must be said that the seemingly excellent drainage of Ewen Fields, a neat well-maintained ground, made sure that the weather wasn't particularly a factor in the eventual result.

Hyde went in to the game on the back of a huge confident boost following last weekend's crushing 3-0 victory at Gainsborough Trinity, the side who ended RMI's FA Cup dreams earlier in the season. That confidence must have played a part when the hosts took the lead after barely a matter of minutes, with Tigers striker Neil Tolson, one of Hyde's ex-RMI contingent, took advantage of some poor defending to somehow put the ball past John Lamb to give his side the lead.

However, despite that early setback, RMI stepped up their game and dominated the first half preceedings thereafter. It certainly didn't take long for them to get back in to the game, with RMI forcing a corner that led to much-maligned striker Chris Simm shooting through a crowd of bodies in to the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the box, though it was certainly aided by a slight deflection on the way past former RMI and Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper Mark Westhead, silencing the Ewen Fields "Shed" in the process.

That equaliser renewed RMI's self-belief and they could've taken the lead almost straight after, when Neil Smith did superbly to latch on to an excellent through-ball and shrug off the attentions of the Hyde defence, only to be denied when one-on-one with Westhead.

Andy Nelson's young side continued to press the Hyde defence, but they met a determined Westhead, with Mark Drew having a free-kick from distance superbly tipped over the bar before Chris Simm's header at the back post was blocked by another excellent stop.

After building up a large degree of confidence with their goalscoring opportunities, RMI's renewed optimism was crushed almost in an instant. Liam Coyne conceded a free kick on the edge of the box, and although he stayed on the pitch despite the protests of the home support, Coyne was punished for mistake when Matty McNeil's shot was somehow allowed to bounce in to the goal from the resultant free kick and restore Hyde's lead.

After last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to Worksop Town when RMI were denied by the woodwork four times and had the ball cleared off the line on three separate occasions, the travelling Leythers could be forgiven for thinking "here we go again" as RMI failed to take their numerous chances before falling behind.

With RMI well and truly on the ropes, they could've fallen further behind almost immediately after conceding the second goal, with Hyde creating another chance, only for the ball to be fired wildly over the open goal with Lamb stranded.

RMI did comeback momentarily and thought they had equalised shortly before the break, only for Simm's strike from an acute angle to be denied by the flag of the linesman for an offside, leaving RMI 2-1 down at half-time.

After the goalscoring of the first half, the second half started fairly slowly with neither side being able to create many chances in front of goal.

That was the case up until just after the hour mark when the hosts thought they'd grabbed the victory, with Tolson taking advantage of some shambolic defending to score his second goal of the game against his former club and take his current side in to a two goal lead.

That deficit was halved barely a minute later though when RMI midfielder Ryan McDowell latched on to another good through ball to put the ball past Westhead and restore faith in the side for both players and supporters alike, not to mention bring a bit of hope that RMI could claw back an unlikely point.

Those hopes were almost dashed immediately after the goal, with RMI goalkeeper John Lamb being called to make a terrific save to keep the score down after Hyde had forced a couple of corner kicks.

Leigh thought they'd equalised when Westhead came out on top of a one-on-one situation for the second time in the game, this time denying Simm after he was clean through.

Simm quickly made up for that disappointing finish though when he beat two Hyde defenders wide of the penalty area, before cutting in to the box and firing a superb shot past Westhead to grab a fantastic equaliser, much to the delight of RMI's vocal away following behind that goal.

RMI could've grabbed a late, late winner but they missed a decent chance, as did Hyde at the other end, leaving the sides level at the end of a pulsating encounter that was a great advertisement for our league and kept the 436 spectators thoroughly entertained throughout the match, with a good atmosphere to boot.

The Hyde supporters must be pretty hard to please, judging by the fact that many of them booed off their side at the end of the game, but in reality they must've been pretty relieved to have got a point from a game which they could've quite easily lost.

Let's hope RMI can keep hold of their shooting boots ahead of next weekend's game at home to Nuneaton, not to mention Tuesday night's Lancashire Challenge Cup game with Colne at Hilton Park. If today is anything to go by, then a good atmosphere and a few goals are virtually guaranteed for the Nuneaton match!

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