MICHAEL Wilde made a scoring return as Chester booked their place in the second round of the Cheshire Senior Cup by inflicting a first defeat of the season on higher-league Hyde.
The talismanic striker, making his first appearance of the campaign after recovering from a fractured collarbone, stepped off the bench to seal a victory that was more comprehensive than the final scoreline suggests.
Indeed the Blue Square North leaders, who played most of the game with 10 men after Nathan Martin’s early dismissal, could have had no complaints had they been on the end of a beating.
Boosted by the pre-match news that Matty McGinn had completed his move from Southport, Neil Young’s side dominated throughout and they fully deserved to extend their winning run in all competitions – and sequence of clean sheets – to five games.
Hyde – showing six changes to the team which beat Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday to make it 10 league wins from 10 – were on the back foot from the moment Martin was sent-off in the 15th minute.
The left-back, having earlier been cautioned for a late lunge on Wes Baynes, was given his marching orders after he tripped Chris Simm on the edge of the box.
From then on the Blues dominated, keeping the ball brilliantly and creating chances at will. That they only took a one-goal advantage into the break – given to them by Michael Powell – had everything to do with poor finishing from Simm and a goalkeeping masterclass from David Carnell.
On two separate occasion the stopper denied Simm after Alex Brown and Matty McNeil cut the Tigers defence open. And when Carnell, who also saved from Iain Howard, failed to hold on to Liam Brownhill’s cross, Danny Hall produced a brilliant block to prevent Simm from tapping in.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 43rd minute. Howard’s rasping 20-yard drive proved too hot for Carnell to handle and Powell – once again captaining the side in the absence of the rested George Horan – headed in the rebound to net his third goal of the season.
The one-way traffic continued after the restart as Chester revelled on an immaculate Ewen Fields playing surface that is used by Manchester City’s elite player development squad and was recently graced by Barcelona’s under 19s.
Howard and McNeil shot just wide, Jamie Rainford and Brownhill hit the woodwork while substitute Jerome Wright saw a chipped effort tipped over the bar by Carnell, who later went off injured and was replaced in goal by midfielder Andy Pearson as the hosts did not have a replacement keeper on the bench.
In contrast John Danby had little to do on the night of his 28th birthday. But when he was required, Danby showed smart reactions to turn two long-range Danny Broadbent attempts past the post.
It was left up to the fit-again Wilde to provide the finishing touch in injury-time. And what a touch it was too, his clever backheel from Rainford’s cross going in off the post.
Hyde: Carnell (Griffin 75), Richardson (Aspin 60), Hall, Renshaw, Martin, Mack (Byrne 55), Moses, Pearson, Birchall, Broadbent, Berkeley. Subs: Crowther, Spencer.
Booked: Martin, Birchall.
Sent-off: Martin 15.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, Smith, Taylor, Brownhill, Brown, Powell (Ormrod 80), Howard, Rainford, McNeil (Wilde 73), Simm (Wright 58). Subs: Booth, Judge. Goals: Powell 43, Wilde 90. Referee: Joe Hull (Cheshire). Attendance: 262.