2011/12: FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round – Hyde v Bradford Park Avenue
Another weekend in October, more blue sky and another round of the FA Cup. For the first time in this seasons Cup adventure I’m leaving the confines of Yorkshire and am heading over The Pennines to Hyde FC. There is still a Yorkshire connection as Bradford Park Avenue are the visitors to Ewen Fields for this 3rd Qualifying Round tie.
Hyde currently sit top of the Blue Square Bet North Division having made an unbeaten ten game start to their League campaign. However, coming into this fixture, The Tigers have had a mixed bag of results in their last four games. In the Cheshire Senior Cup (Preliminary Round), Hyde lost 2-0 to Chester and drawn League fixtures against Eastwood Town and Nuneaton Town. In fact The Tigers only victory came in the last round of the FA Cup against Northern Counties East League side Staveley Miners Welfare.
Avenue whilst not boasting the unbeaten League start of Hyde, have had a good start to their League campaign and before kick-off sat in 5th postion in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Bradford came into the FA Cup at the 1st Qualifying Round stage and demolished Harrogate Railway Athletic 8-0. Avenue were drawn at home again in the 2nd Qualifying Round, winning 3-1 against Warrington Town.
Given Hyde’s League form, a home draw and their higher position in the football pyramid than Bradford, The Tigers are favourites to progress today.
As a train traveller, Ewen Fields is an easy ground to get to. For me it was a train across from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly and then a local service out to Newton for Hyde. The ground is then a comfortable 10 minutes walk away. It is a stadium that has undergone change in recent years. In July 2010 Manchester City through their City in the Community (CITC) scheme became the club shirt sponsor and gave the ground a make-over. In simple terms, what was once red is now blue. This season Ewen Fields hosts the Manchester City Under 19’s team, who are taking part in the NextGen Series, a European wide competition which includes sides such as Ajax, Barcelona, Celtic, Inter Milan and Marseille.
The influence of Manchester City is certainly evident as you enter the ground, since the City crest is side by side with that of Hyde around various parts of the stadium. This ‘branding’ is extended to the advertising within the ground, as the roofs of the various stands are adorned with the logos of Manchester City’s sponsors and partners. Even the perimeter advertising is in the matching blue combination of the stands and again only carries details of the City’s sponsorship deals. For me whilst the ground is all very tidy, it is a bit clinical. Even the wonderful gables of the seated area and pyramid style floodlights seem swallowed in the corporate conversion that City put in place.
However, today isn’t about Manchester City, it is about Hyde and Bradford Park Avenue and their quest to continue their FA Cup journey. Avenue have brought a good following and the ‘Green Army’ is in full voice as the game kicks off. The opening ten minutes is played at a bit of a frantic pace with neither side settling and too often possession is easily given away. However, the game does settle down with the visitors more than holding their own. Much of the action is centred in midfield and clear cut chances are few and far between in the first half. Indeed Avenue have the best opportunity just before the break when Richard Marshall finds himself in on goal, but fires weakly at the keeper. Tiger’s manager Gary Lowe looks an agitated and frustrated figure during the opening half, and I’m sure he reads his team the riot act at half time.
Indeed, Hyde come out much more positive in the second half and leading scorer Scott Spencer threatens to add to his tally for the season on a couple of occasions. However, the tide turns fifteen minutes into the second half when Chris Worsley is sent off for a second bookable offence. Bradford grab the initiative and create a number of decent chances. The best of these falls to Avenue substitute Billy Law who finds himself one and one with home keeper David Carnell. The youngster rounds Carnell but his weak shot is cleared off the line by Adam Griffin. That looks to be it and a replay looms, when in the dying minutes, Carnell can only parry Law’s shot and Tom Greaves gleefully slams in the winner. There is no way back for the home team and at the final whistle, the visitors, players and fans, celebrate a genuine Cup upset.
For Bradford, the Cup draw awaits on Monday. As for Hyde, their recent stutter continues, but as the football cliché goes, they can now ‘concentrate on the League’.
Postscript: FC Halifax Town had a comfortable 3-0 win at the Giant Axe against Lancaster City with goals from Renshaw (3 mins), Garner (33 mins) and Gregory (85 mins). However, the victory was marred by crowd trouble which meant the game was held up for 25 minutes until order was restored. Frickley Athletic’s Cup run came to an end at Gainsborough Trinity, with two goals in a ten minute spell in the second half ensuring progress for Trinity.