RELEGATED Hyde will be hoping to continue their excellent run of form when hosting local rivals Stockport County on Saturday in the Vanarama Conference North (KO 15:00 GMT).
The basement-bottom Tigers were condemned to back-to-back demotions last weekend despite a spirited draw at title-chasing AFC Fylde following wins for Stalybridge Celtic and Colwyn Bay.
Although Gary Lowe could not prevent the club from dropping to the Evo-Stik Premier Division, the Hyde boss has steadied the ship somewhat and has seen his side lose just one of their last seven league games.
Meanwhile, County’s ambitions of finishing in the top five were all but ended last time out by a 2-0 home defeat to fellow play-off chasers Chorley, which ended their three-game unbeaten streak.
Alan Lord’s team, who comfortably beat Hyde 2-0 at Edgeley Park on Valentine’s Day, have largely struggled on the road this term in comparison with their strong home form.
The Hatters boast the worst away record in the top half of the table with four victories in total this season and have won only one of their last seven games on their travels.
Like County, Hyde have been significantly better on home soil with all three of their league victories this season coming in SK14 and they are unbeaten in the previous four at Ewen Fields.
The Tigers, though, boast the worst defence in the division by some distance with 91 goals conceded in their 37 games thus far which is one of the main reasons why they are below the other 21 teams.
In comparison, the visitors have scored only six goals in their last eight outings and are the second-lowest scorers among the top 11 sides in the league.
County could leapfrog North Ferriby United, who are in FA Trophy Final action on Sunday, and Oxford City into eighth position by taking three points while Hyde will be desperate to close the gap on their other local rivals Stalybridge directly above them.
This particular derby is being played this term for the first time since 2012/13 when both away teams took the bragging rights with Hyde 2-0 winners on Boxing Day while County exacted revenge with a 1-0 triumph on their last Ewen Fields visit on New Year’s Day two years ago.
Although the two Greater Manchester sides are merely separated by nine miles geographically, they are 12 places and 23 points apart in league terms.
But despite being widely partitioned in the sixth tier of English football, both have reason to make progress in the final month of the campaign even if their season aims might not be accomplished.
Hyde are expected to field the same or a similar team to the one that competed nobly against AFC Fylde at Kellamergh Park last Saturday although Pete Boyle, Jake Hibbs and George Riley will be hopeful of earning recalls.
Former County defender Kyle Brownhill is expected to face his former employers again while top scorer Connor Hughes and Erike Sousa should start on the flanks in a 4-3-3 formation.
Stockport will again be without 12-goal leading scorer Kristian Dennis, who has not played for five games because of a groin problem.
Fellow forward Danny Glover, who like Dennis netted against Hyde last month, will also be absent through suspension following his red card against Lowestoft Town in their previous away game.
Scott Spencer could be back in contention after missing the Chorley defeat having failed a pre-match fitness test while some of the other 10 first-team players unavailable last weekend could feature in the matchday squad.
Hyde: Wilczynski (GK), Broadbent (GK), Brizell (c), Brownhill, Burke, Perry NG, Pritchard, Mukuna, Pearson, Thurston, Hughes, Gray, Gregory, Holmes, Riley, Sousa, Giverin, Barrett, Boyle, Masterson, West.
Stockport County: Hurst (GK), Ormson (GK), Fagbola, O’Halloran, Lees (c), Todd, Duxbury, Hancock, Moses, Woolfe, Murray, Wilkinson, Lofthouse, Russell, Hampson, Noblett, Churchman, Spencer, Sharp, Lazenbury, Ryan.
Referee: Jonathan Hunt (Liverpool)
By Adam Higgins
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