POSTED: April 06 2018 17:05:13. By Keith Long
- United Win 3-2 Despite Bizarre Refeering Decision
A 3-2 home win over Atherton Town kept Beechfield United's 1st Team title hopes well on track and Beechy currently have an eleven point lead at the top of the Division 1 table. But the main talking point related to the referee's decision to award Atherton Town a ghost goal when United led 3-0. A strong gusty wind was likely to cause problems for both teams once the match kicked-off and Atherton Town quickly found a good attacking rhythm forcing a couple of vital clearances from Carl Ravenscroft. When United finally saw more of the ball Matthew McNally and Chris Ferris were heavily involved in a congested midfield area. The games first real goal scoring opportunity fell to Atherton's No8 who had raced clear and after controlling an accurate long pass looked certain to finish the move but Beechy keeper Robert Harrison produced a fantastic save. A fine counter-attack involving Jamie Sinnott provided a decent chance for Louis Duff who created a good shooting angle but fired the ball just over the crossbar.
Following more positive attacking soccer by Atherton Town and slightly against the run of play United took the lead in the 10th minute when Kurtis Lee supplied a great finish following a brilliant move between Rob Lockley, Mike Rogerson and Jamie Sinnott. But Atherton Town made Beechy work harder to stay ahead and Mike Rogerson, Rob Lockley and Luke Johnston were forced to produce some resolute defending under pressure. Another corner to Atherton Town created a half chance for the visitors No4 who's header missed the target then Robert Harrison made a first-class reflex save after a neat one-two move featuring Atherton's No7. United went 2-0 up after twenty five minutes when despite being barged off the ball Jamie Sinnott managed to recover and set-up Kurtis Lee who easily drifted past the keeper before curling the ball into the empty net. Despite their two goal advantage Beechy had to soak up added pressure as Atherton Town continued to create more attractive attacking football and Robert Harrison was the busiest of the two keepers.
Conceding far too many free kicks United breathed a sigh of relief after Robert Harrison couldn't hold a swerving effort from Atherton's No8 and luckily Luke Johnston reacted the quickest and cleared the ball from close to the goal line. HT 2-0. Beechy looked better organised as the second half got underway but they knew Atherton Town were a hard team to beat and were fully prepared for another tough forty five minutes. A solid attacking surge from the visitors briefly kept United in a defensive mode and Robert Harrison rescued Beechy again with a superb one-handed save. Matthew McNally continued to have a great game in midfield but he was outshone by Man of the Match Louis Duff and the two players were involved in the move that ended with Jamie Sinnott scoring the third goal via a close range header on sixty seven minutes. Beechy were denied the chance of a fourth goal due to several dubious offside decisions in quick succession. Jordan Jones-Waite replaced Kurtis Lee as United's main striker and quickly showed his ability with a couple of powerful surging solo runs.
Atherton Town were always a threat going forward and after winning a corner they were thrown a lifeline when the referee awarded the visitors a "goal that never was" During a goalmouth scramble the ball was hammered at the target by an Atherton player and hit Louis Duff who was stood a couple of yards in front of the goal line and he instantly protected himself with his arms and after the ball had bounced off Louis was grabbed by Robert Harrison. Immediately the match official decided that Louis had deliberately handled the ball and denied a goal, but rather than point to the penalty spot and show the Beechy player a red card he awarded a goal despite the ball never crossing the line. This decision gave Atherton Town a real boost and suddenly stepping up a gear the visitors forced Beechy to do some serious defending. Making a second tactical change United Manager Steven Erskine took over from Craig Massey in midfield and Beechy were faced with a tense final six minutes when Atherton's No9 scored the visitors second goal. In the closing minutes Louis Duff forced an acrobatic save from the visitors keeper and United were still attacking when the referee blew for full time.