Hughes is at the double as Matlock Town overcome ten-man Hyde United
A brace from Liam Hughes and a third goal from Ryan Qualter earned Matlock a very important three points against Hyde United’s ten men on Tuesday night, the Gladiators running out 3-2 winners (writes Ian Richardson)
Matlock, in their first game for 15 days and playing their opening match of 2022, recovered well from the shock of going behind in the first minute when debutant goalkeeper Joe Young could only push out a dangerous low cross from the right by Jack Dyche as far as the unattended left wing-back Krisel Prifti who slammed his shot firmly home.
There were positives and negatives in the Gladiators’ performance. Starting with the negatives, Matlock looked rusty early on and they gave away two bad goals, sometimes also allowing Hyde a little too much comfort on the artificial surface.
The positives are the win, two goals for skipper Hughes, Ross Hannah looking more dangerous now he is reaching full fitness and Matlock remaining on top of the league with local rivals Buxton suffering a fourth successive defeat at Scarborough.
Hyde looked bright early on but there was a warning for the hosts on ten minutes when Al Byrne’s persistence on the right saw him win possession on the by-line and his chipped cross to the back post was met by Jesurun Uchegbulam whose header was superbly tipped over by goalkeeper Joe Green.
But within a further minute the table toppers were back on level terms as Hyde returned Byrne’s corner to the Matlock number seven who recycled a cross which Hughes did brilliantly to control before clipping a fine volley beyond the diving Green.
Matlock started to dominate with Hannah profiting from good build up play by Uchegbulam to see his shot deflected wide. Hannah then might have headed Town in front only for Green to be well positioned to grab possession. Then Liam King burst forward from midfield and set up Uchegbulam with a defender getting a vital touch to divert the African’s goalbound shot wide.
The best chance though in this hectic spell of pressure fell to Hughes who put Byrne’s cross wide from six yards on 21 minutes.
Hyde briefly relieved the pressure to win a free-kick out on the right which Prifti lofted into the danger area, the ball dipping at the last second to strike the top of the bar.
Then on 27 minutes Matlock broke at pace through Alex Wiles who was sent tumbling to the turf by Edward Elewa-Ikpakwu’s foul, the midfielder being lucky to only receive a yellow card with Matlock appealing he was last man, but his luck would run out in the 44th minute.
In between, Young held a free kick by Liam Tongue while at the other end, Reece Kendall had a shot charged down while there was then controversy seconds before Elewa-Ikpakwu’s match came to a premature end with a red card.
Prifti had again found space on the left to deliver a peach of a cross for Jack Dyche to fire into the corner but Hyde’s celebrations were ended by a late offside flag which angered the home crowd who were on referee Anthony Ball’s back for the rest of the evening.
Jonah Mitchell was booked for complaining and within seconds Elewa-Ikpakwu went in late and high on Byrne leaving the harassed official little option but to send the Tigers midfielder for first use of the shower. Hughes was then booked for colliding with Green with the half-time whistle sounding at a convenient moment to allow tempers to calm.
Hyde made a double change at the interval, Matlock doing likewise shortly after Hughes had headed an excellent King cross straight at Green when well placed.
King and Uchegbulam were replaced by Callum Chippendale and Jamie Sharman and within eight minutes the visitors had established a two-goal advantage.
Chippendale’s first contribution was a shot blocked by the home defence but on the hour Hughes powered in a close range header from a fantastic left wing cross by Kendall who had now moved from a central defensive role to left wing back.
Then on 63 minutes, Hyde failed to clear a corner and the ball fell to Qualter who slotted home from six yards to seemingly take the game completely away from Hyde.
Hughes, full of confidence tried a cheeky back heel in search of his hat-trick but Green was able to claim fairly comfortably.
Out of the blue Hyde cut into their deficit with a quarter of an hour left. Tongue’s free kick found its way through to goal with the ball hitting Young’s left hand post with credit for the goal being given to Bradley Roscoe who finished from point blank range.
That set up a nervous finale but Matlock defended well, efficiently protecting Young as Hyde failed to create anything of substance. Their frustration boiled over again when Dyche was booked for clattering into Byrne.
The final whistle then sounded to signal a third successive league victory for Matlock and a second league double of the campaign.