HYDE United were effectively relegated from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League with a 4-0 loss against Nantwich Town on Monday night.
The Tigers, who trailed Whitby Town by three points with a vastly inferior goal difference, needed to avoid defeat to stand a realistic chance of avoiding a third successive relegation but came up against a ruthless Nantwich side who took their chances when presented to them.
Josh Gordon swivelled the Dabbers into the lead seven minutes before the break before the young Tigers resolve was broken by Liam Shotton tapping in his 23rd goal of the season 18 minutes from time.
Phil Parkinson’s side added late gloss to the scoreline when ex-Tiger Tom Fisher and Sean Cooke fired beyond Kieran Harrison as Hyde threw caution to the wind in a gallant but ultimately unsuccessful bid to beat the drop.
Darren Kelly sent his side out fighting and they started the better side. James Burke sent a 30-yard flier just over Daniel Gyollai’s goal and former Latvian international left-back Pavels Surnins went in with two hard – but fair – sliding challenges showing that the Tigers weren’t going to lie down and have their tummy tickled in this must-not-lose fixture.
With Hyde’s centre back Adam M Jones temporarily off the pitch, Nantwich nearly capitalised when a long ball over the top found Shotton who delayed his shot enabling a last-ditch challenge from Burke to fly in and keep the Tigers level.
As the half continued Hyde started to build into the game, frequently finding themselves in useful positions but without talismanic striker Scott Spencer they lacked the quality required to penetrate the Dabbers back line.
Big Khamsuk tamely stroking wide from the edge of the box and Andrew Pearson heading over as close as they came.
With the Tigers having lost their last seven matches the first goal at Ewen Fields was always going to be crucial. Hyde, therefore, had a mountain to climb when it was the visitors who found it in the 38th minute. Josh Hancock’s cutting through ball found Shotton who initially miscontrolled and the chance seemed to be lost but the big striker teed up Josh Gordon who fired beyond Harrison to net his side’s 89th league goal of the season.
Thanks for all the best wishes in the words of Arnie "we'll be back " ?
— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) April 18, 2016
After the break Hyde again huffed and puffed but never actually looked likely to score a goal. Zeekell Parkes beat Troy Bourne and carried the ball the length of the field but couldn’t find a final pass before Ayrton Bevins appeared to be through on goal but the striker, clearly bereft of confidence, showed no composure and rushed the shot which Gyollai took as a backpass by controlling with his feet.
The Tigers continued to scrap, Bevins was replaced by Peter Boyle and the number 10 was visibly distraught in the Hyde dugout.
He’d done all he could but it wasn’t enough.
Nantwich issued the sucker punch with 18 minutes to play when they doubled their lead. Gordon drilled a cross into the box and Shotton touched home his 23rd goal in all competitions after Fisher saw his initial shot well saved by Harrison.
This signalled the end of any hopes the Tigers had and their youthful side were visibly tiring as they came towards the conclusion of their second game in three days.
The Dabbers were able to capitalise on Hyde’s need to go for broke and added two further goals to their tally. Another low cross by Gordon bounced in off one part of Fisher’s anatomy (still unclear as to what) before the former FC United of Manchester man Sean Cooke lashed into the roof of the net after Harrison had repelled his first shot.
In the last minute of the 90, Hyde’s Sam Fitton attempted to take a free-kick quickly to James Burke but saw the ball collide with referee Michael Crusham and bounce to a Nantwich player.
That summed up Hyde’s night and indeed their season. In-fact that moment was met with laughter from the home supporters. Ewen Fields has become the non-league home of gallows humour in the last three seasons.
Even a melee in the Dabbers penalty area deep into stoppage time could not yield a goal for the hosts and relegation was essentially confirmed seconds afterwards. Technically Hyde aren’t quite relegated yet but they would need to beat Halesowen Town and see Whitby Town lose all their remaining games, plus a swing of 22 goals.
Simply put it’s not going to happen. Two seasons ago Hyde were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Grimsby and Luton Town, they even won at Kenilworth Road in 2013, next season they’ll face the likes of Radcliffe Borough and Prescot Cables. As the players received a warm hand whilst they left the field a message was read over the tannoy that a meeting to discuss the club’s future would be happening on Thursday night in the social club. On the pitch the future for Hyde is simple, eighth tier football.
Hyde: Harrison, Ellison, Surnins, Pearson (C), Adam M Jones (Khamsuk ’11), Burke, Fitton, Bianga, Holmes, Bevins (Boyle ’69), Parkes (Adam N Jones ’59).
Unused substitutes: Broadbent, Head
Nantwich: Gyollai, Jones, Short (C) (Hall ’61), Moran (Bourne ’37), Harrison, Osbourne, Baillie, Gordon, Shotton, Cooke, Hancock (Fisher ’46).
Unused substitutes: Smith, Bennion
Goals: Gordon (37), Shotton (72), Fisher (84), Cooke (86)
Referee: Mr Michael Crusham
By Jordan Davies at Ewen Fields