POSTED: April 03 2018 22:36:52. By Keith Long - Saturday Morning Senior Team (March 2018)

On 17th March 2018 Beechfield United Saturday Morning Senior Team were officially knocked-out of the Steeles Shield after suffering a 3-2 defeat by Manchester Medics but Beechy's opponents were found guilty of using an illegible player in the semi-final tie so United will now meet Hazel Grove in the final on Wednesday 11th April. United who had home advantage in the semi-final match looked in good form in the early stages and quickly put pressure on their opponents. But Beechy had to wait until the 31st minute before they made the breakthrough when defender Daniel Eckersley produced a superb finish from 25 yards. Just a minute before half time Manchester Medics equalised after some slack defending allowed a Medics forward a free header, the ball deflecting off a Beechy player before bouncing into the net. Ten minutes into the second half United regained the lead courtesy of a fantastic individual goal by Max Leonard. The Beechy striker controlled a clearance on the right flank inside his own half and ran past several Medics defenders into the area and hammered the ball into top corner of the net.

United continued to dictate the pace of the game but despite lacking the finish to a glut of decent chances were only five minutes away from winning the match. The visitors forced a corner and after the ball was only half cleared it was played back into the area and a Medics defender turned and fired it past the keeper for 2-2. Into the extra time period and following more missed chances Beechy were dealt a cruel blow when Medics snatched what proved be a match winning goal. In the 115th minute the ball was driven across the six yard box and struck a Beechy player before rolling past the keeper. Sharing United's Man of the Match award were Roy Owen and Wes Pierce. Medics celebrations were short lived because a couple of days later it was discovered one of their substitutes hadn't played enough games in the competition to be eligible for the final.

Seven days later Manager Graham Rothwell was forced to make several team changes when Beechy travelled to play West Didsbury for a Division 1 fixture. Following a below-par display United found themselves trailing 2-0 at half time and though Beechy produced a better performance in the second half they eventually lost the match 3-0.

United's penultimate league game was at home against Baguley Athletic on 31st March and once again team selection became a pre-match problem when only eleven players were available. United keeper Dan Lee made a top-quality save in the fourth minute as Baguley Athletic who won the match 5-2 quickly dominated possession and their No10 put the visitors ahead three minutes later. The same player had the ball in the net again but on this occasion he was yards offside when he received the ball. Beechy relied heavily on their defensive quartet of John Bolton, Kyle Walton, Matthew Swift and Kyle Wray throughout the match but they couldn't prevent Baguley going 2-0 up on seventeen minutes. Working hard in midfield Man of the Match Wes Pierce, Joe Poyser and Matthew McCusker had limited time on the ball against their talented opponents. Another fast counter-attack led to Baguley adding a third goal via their No13 and when United came under more pressure Matthew Swift booted the ball off the goal line then Dan Lee made a great save to deny an effort by the visitors No10.

The referee failed to blow for offside against the Baguley No11 who created both time and space before firing the ball low into the corner of the net for 4-0. Beechy never lacked commitment despite being four goals down and were rewarded in the 39th minute with a well taken goal by Matthew Bond that reduced the arrears. But just before the half time break another poor decision gifted Baguley Athletic a 5-1 lead. In the second half United had a strong gusty wind in their favour but Beechy were soon having to defend again against more stylish attacking football from a well organised Baguley outfit. A long range effort by the Baguley No11 cannoned back into play off the post then a couple of minutes later Matthew McCusker attempted to beat the visitors keeper from twenty yards. Beechy did enjoy more of the ball in the second period and continuing to display 100% commitment forced their opponents to be slightly more defensive.

Roy Owen had a decent chance but he hammered the ball over the crossbar just before Kyle Wray netted a second goal for United after seventy five minutes. One of the main highlights of the contest arrived in the latter stages when Beechy keeper Dan Lee made a brilliant save following a curling effort from just outside the area by the Baguley No8. The last moment of real action was supplied by Kyle Wray who's thunderous drive from 30 yards flew inches over the crossbar. The teams meet again next Saturday and obviously if the missing players are available United will be looking for a revenge victory.

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